Brittany Heilman is a volunteer in the WorldTeach Ecuador Year Program. She wrote this blog post about one of her lesson plans and wanted to share it with you.

Food has always been one of my favorite things. Of course, I love to eat it. But there’s so much more to it than that. When I think about food, I think about sharing something delicious with the people I love. I think about when I was growing up, helping my dad with the finishing touches on the crème brulee at his restaurant. I think about working at the lemonade stands with my best friends so that we could go buy candy from the store down the street. I think about the smell of banana bread baking and waiting in the kitchen so that I could have the very first slice and NOT my brothers. Food brings people together. When you think about it, most everything you do when it comes to spending time with people, revolves around food. That’s why I was SO excited when I realized that I had an ENTIRE FOOD UNIT to teach my students.


Of course, there were grammar points that we were going to need to cover. But, I wanted to take this opportunity to really bring reality into the classroom. So, I decided I was going to have two special lessons. Back home in Minnesota, one of my favorite channels to watch is Food Network. I am so fascinated by the different types of cooking and of course, by all of the competition. My favorite show is Chopped. My students had just learned about sequence adverbs and preparing meals and so I thought, what better way to have them practice than to bring Chopped to our classroom! Now, I realize that we don’t have ingredients, cooking tools, and appliances at our fingertips – so this was going to require some imagination. During class, I showed a short video clip of Chopped so that my students would have a better understanding of what I was going to task them with. Following the clip, I gave each student three pieces of paper. One paper had a protein, one had a fruit, and one had a vegetable. They were given 15 minutes to create a recipe from scratch using their three ingredients as well as any other additional ingredients they wanted to add. They needed to give their dish a creative title and then be prepared to present on the chopping block. After the 15 minutes were up, I called two students up to the chopping block AKA the front of the classroom. These two students were to present their recipe, the ingredients, and the steps to preparing it (using sequence adverbs, of course). Following their presentations, they turned around and I had the class vote on which dish they would rather eat. The dish that won was awarded an extra credit point on our next exam. Though they were grateful for the extra credit, I did have a couple students say it would be better if I could actually give them $10,000 like on the real Chopped! 😛 I was so proud to see what they came up with, especially given that for the first 10 minutes, most of them complained about how hard the task was!

On our last day of the unit, we had a food day. The students could receive extra credit on the exam if they brought in enough of their favorite meal or dish to share with the class and presented the recipe and why it is their favorite. I expected a few students to bring things in – I know that it’s hard with school and work but still wanted to present the opportunity. I was BLOWN AWAY (as was my stomach) by the amount of food that we had that day. It was so exciting to see what everyone brought in and to hear about why it is their favorite. Each meal brought us closer and allowed us to get a glimpse into the lives of each student. We were able to learn about new foods some of us had never tried before and had so much fun learning and sharing in this together. We had breakfast foods, desserts, dinners, and even gelatin! And as always, my high school students thought they were HILARIOUS capturing a picture of teacher mid stuff-my-face! It definitely isn’t a model photo, but it reminds me why I love what I do.

Lastly, my late night class was smaller so we moved a little bit quicker through the lesson plans. As an extra activity, we created a little recipe book. I brought in my favorite recipe and shared it with them and then I had them each create their own recipe cards. I then made it into a recipe book and shared it with the class.

I’m always looking for new and exciting ways to bring learning into the classroom. As I teach from 4-8PM, many of my students are coming to class after an already long and tiring day. I know that there are going to be days when there is going to be more teacher talk time than not, but I am constantly pushing myself to find new ways to teach and new ways for my students to learn. I want them to walk away at the end of the night feeling like they’ve learned something new, but also that they’ve learned it in an exciting and creative way. This food unit was a fun and interactive way to not only have my students learn, but they also taught me and gave me the opportunity to learn more about their culture. I look forward to continue my teaching journey for the next seven months and hope that I can continue to impact the lives of these students like they are impacting my life.