This morning, I started class with the question I usually ask this Monday morning group: “Did you have a good weekend? What did you do this weekend?” Sometimes the answers are less than enthusiastic but this morning one student seemed enthusiastic to tell me that he had made a cake.
Aha! Here was the beginning of a true Dogme moment! And we went with it.
“Who else cooked something good this weekend?”
We got vocabulary for broccoli and apple quiche, fish with sauce (and not fish sauce, as was pointed out), lasagna, and Ramen noodles (after all, they are students!). Another student admitted he had eaten chicken nuggets, but that it didn’t really count as cooking to him.
Of course, the discussion generated a board full of food vocabulary and some interesting bits about American vs. French cooking. We even worked on trying to find a satisfactory American equivalent of French lardons and settled on chunky bits of uncooked bacon.
I shared a life tip that I saw on a cooking show once: always have three dishes that you master, that are quick, easy, and cheap to make. That way, when friends just pop over, you can impress them with your improvisational kitchen skills.
Students worked in groups to prepare a recipe exchange. Each group brainstormed a recipe or two and wrote it out. As they worked, I put my own recipe, bananas poached in coconut milk with lime juice, on the board. Again, lots of food vocabulary emerged.
Students compared their recipes to mine for genre conventions, cooking vocabulary, etc. and made any necessary changes as I walked around to help them spot any differences.
To round off, students explained (and I insisted that they not read) their recipes to the other students. We got some basics like chocolate chip cookies and crepes, but also tiramisu, tomato and comté quiche, tuna peaches (a curious one indeed!)
This activity went well in my opinion for a few reasons: It emerged naturally from a real conversation, gave students something they could actually use in life, and let them share their own knowledge. On the daily class feedback forms, they all cited this as something they liked and found useful.
After, though, I think I artificially steered the class in another direction L
Last week’s homework was to choose a book from a bag I had brought in and write a story loosely based on the book’s subject. Since I had assigned it for homework, I wanted to make sure that we did something with it. After all, what’s the point of giving homework if it just sits in students’ binders afterwards?
Not all students had done the homework, and a few were absent last week so they didn’t have a book, but each group had 1 or 2 students with a story to tell. They shared their stories in their groups, I circulated to help with language.
I asked what they would like to do with their stories next and someone volunteered “listen to each others’ stories and guess the book that inspired it.” OK.
The books were all displayed in the front of the class and students shared their stories while others guessed. They all did the activity, but we had lost the energy of the first part of the lesson. I encouraged the listeners to ask questions to know more about the stories or to get clarification and some did, but it felt less authentic than before. Meef…
I think we could have saved this activity for another lesson and I’m sure the students would have understood. In my desire to show that they hadn’t done homework just for the sake of doing it, I think I prematurely aborted a lesson that was going well. Lesson learned—in Dogme, you really do have to roll with what comes up, maybe explaining to students the reason for delaying the homework-based activities. We could have just as easily started up next lesson with the story –telling and then branched out from there, in a more natural way.
What do you think? What should I have done?