Teacher are such creative people. Especially when it comes to homework assignments. They have so many great ideas. Like making homemade pizza to learn about fractions. (Does ordering Papa John's and cutting it yourself count?) Or making a model of Jamestown. (Thanks for that one, Mrs. P.) Last week, though, I fell victim to my own creative lesson planning.
Nathan is in a couple of my classes, and he was especially excited about my weekend journaling assignment. I had listed forty, that's forty, journaling prompts and instructed the students to choose one. "Okay," he announced after looking at the list, "I am going to make dinner for the family tonight and write about it."
"Which one did you choose? The one about your ideal vacation?" I ask. Surely I heard wrong. Nathan doesn't even like to make his own sandwiches.
"Nope. The one with the dinner."
I experienced a moment of terror. A vision of a demolished kitchen, complete with blackened pans, flashed before my eyes. Oh, wait, I had included in the prompt that the student had to clean it up himself. Well, at least my teacher creativity insanity was balanced with a little common sense. I also realized at this point that I had borrowed the idea for this particular prompt from a colleague I met at a conference. And he doesn't have kids. Figures.
Nathan grabbed my cookbooks and started to make out his menu. As he put his grocery list together, I subtly made little hints to try to minimize the damage. Olive lentil burgers, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pound cake sounded delicious! And messy, really messy. How about Boca Chik'n, baked potatoes, and, well, okay, pound cake? Coconut Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Glaze, to be precise. He went along with that.
I took a deep breath once the groceries were unpacked and tried to plan out my strategy. When I was growing up, my mom would let me loose in the kitchen and just tell me to make sure it was cleaned up before she came back in. I wasn't confident enough to pull that off, and personality-wise, I'm probably more like my grandmother, who, looking over my shoulder, once told me I was stirring the batter in the wrong direction. I decided to go for a balance between the two. Available, but not intrusive.
And then I got to observe Nathan at work. He attacked the task very mathematically. What time are we eating? How long does each item take? When should he start? And how long does it take to preheat the oven? Once he had made all of his necessary calculations, he got to work.
"Always read the recipe all the way through first," I told him as he started the pound cake.
"Well, of course, Mom, can you imagine if I started to flash a new ROM to my phone and forgot to back up my old ROM? There goes your data!" he laughed.
I laughed too, but not because I understood what he was saying.
As he poured in the oil, he said, "Check this out! Who says vegan has to be healthy? This cake is like a dirty little vegan secret."
I must say I was impressed. He measured carefully, followed each step exactly, and was actually very proficient. Dinner was a hit with everyone, and he DID clean up the kitchen.
Let's hear it for creative teachers!