There’s nothing quite like having perfect timing in teaching: when a fantastic opportunity arises for you to give your students a real-life experience about exactly what you’re teaching at that very moment.
That’s what happened to me this week.
My favorite holiday, like many Americans, is Thanksgiving. Living in abroad in Sudan, November 24th was gearing up to be like any other Thursday. I had a conversation with my students a few weeks before the big day about my own family traditions, only to learn that most of them had never tasted pie before. What?
And then it struck me; we were going to finish our unit on measurement right before Thanksgiving. Baking pies would be the perfect end to a great unit!
After making and eating the pies one of my students told another teacher, “it was so fun, but Ms. Stephanie is tricky. She snuck math into it!”
Students worked in teams of two or three to measure out all of the ingredients. They weighed sugar, flour and cubes of butter in grams. They measured the apple pie spice, salt, and water in teaspoons/cups. And they measured their apple slices in centimeters.
Seeing Another Side of My Students
One of the greatest parts of doing activities like this is seeing another side to your students. It was surprising to see which kids could chop apples as well as any adult and which began by smacking their knife (we didn’t use sharp knives, don’t worry) on the side of the apple and wondering why it didn’t work.
It actually ended up very beneficial, though, because it helped us to refer back to our last science unit of inquiry, where we talked about the blade of a knife being a simple machine: a wedge. The flat side of a knife just wasn’t designed to pull things apart.
Our school recently had a theater crew, the HandleBards, come and perform as well as offer a PD. The major takeaway was how important memorable lessons are to student learning. Measuring the weight of the ingredients with a purpose as delicious as pie will stick in my students’ memories far longer than doing it just to fill out a chart.
Did they Like the Pie?
Two of my picky eaters decided it wasn’t for them, but most said it was great. One even said it wasn’t great, but waaaay better than great. And all of them, whether they liked it or not said they would love to bake again in the future.