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The Great Classroom Bake Off

Gareth is a Secondary Teacher from Australia who is working in West London schools through Protocol Education. He gives us a run down on a twist of the Great British Bake Off in his classroom. 

Plain flour is spilled down my trousers (i.e. down the outside not the inside), poppy seeds are scattered across the students’ desks and my wooden spoon is pointed at the interactive whiteboard, as the head-teacher enters the room.

“Well this all looks very exciting,” she comments. “I remember when I used to be younger and had the energy to run this type of lesson.”
She returns the ADHD child, she’s been disciplining, back to my classroom and then departs. Not before glancing suspiciously at my aforementioned trousers which make me look more like I’ve been having a cocaine fuelled session with Nigella. I wave my wooden spoon in the air for further effect.

It’s at this point the teaching assistant notices Harun has brought in sweets instead of sesame seeds and chocolate instead of poppy seeds. She lets him have it. Perhaps I should have been more specific when I suggested students bring in their own toppings.

But all is not as dire as it seems. Below the surface of now crusting bread-dough-residual is the same slick durable laminate desk top surfaces that began this well ordered day of baking.

Kneading the dough
First children were reminded of their Science lessons regarding the importance of yeast in chemical reactions, whereupon they were educated by the finest dough puncher Mr Hollywood via video (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/paul_hollywoods_crusty_83536). The children were soon foaming at the mouth; a reaction I was hoping would soon repeat itself when the yeast reacted in the dough. With this sort of enthusiasm the Little Red Hen would have been done baking in half an afternoon.

Recipes were then divided amongst students who were in groups of five. Not to upset the feminist bandwagon I also distribute a copy of goddess Delia Smith’s bread recipe (http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/type-of-dish/bread/plain-and-simple-white-bread.html) for the students to make their own choice about which to cook. The majority choose the allegedly adulterous choice of Hollywood’s recipe. Perhaps I should have opted for a Marcela Valladolid option to represent the sisterhood.

Rising the dough
Then to tick off some curriculum boxes to justify the kitchen class time:

  • Students were made to rewrite the instructional text. Literacy outcome; check!
  • Students were required to divide up and weigh ingredients. After the bread rose, students were then required to divide the larger mass between the five students in their group. Maths outcomes; check!
  • Students were made to work in a team. PSHE outcome; check!
  • Students moulded their bread into various shapes. Design and Technology outcome; check!
  • Students forced to watch the Magic School Bus (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQMazHBnwtk). Alchemy outcome; check!

Baking the dough

The final curriculum subject to cover is Art, which is daintily done via sesame and poppy seed decorating of the bread; plus the Haribo and Galaxy collection brought in by Harun. It is at this point the teaching assistant discovers a further clue to Harun’s plan – an A4 sheet with a blue print of his bun design.

“This was not a part of the work we’ve done today,” I tell Harun.

“I know. I went around to Jibril’s house last night and we planned it then,” responds Harun.

“You knew about this too!” exclaims the teaching assistant to Jibril. “And you let Harun take the entire wrap earlier, when I was going off at him.”

“Unbelievable,” I state. “We’ll make a compromise, boys. You can have the Haribos, but I’ll have to take the chocolate and put that in my drawer.”

I mean, who am I to dictate what ingredients sensibly combine with bread dough. One boy in the corner is currently smothering his bun with strawberry jam glaze. He will later discover this is a flammable substitute for the Mary Berry honey glaze I had suggested using.

I will also discover that using a recipe designed for a whole loaf of bread needs half the cooking time when you divide it into smaller bread.

Breaking bread

Five hours after we started this bread saga, the bread returns from the oven slightly blackened and it’s time to spread the healthy eating message with copious amounts of honey and Nutella all round. I dust off my trousers for another day and reflect on how much younger I was this morning when I “had the energy to run this type of lesson”.

I’ll be cleaning flour off the furniture for weeks.

Enjoyed this blog? Would you like to let Gareth or us know your thoughts? Email Megan at mparsons@protocol-education.com

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Tags: Gareth, LondonSecondary, supply, creative, bread, baking, curriculum, learning, experiences

Category: Australian Teachers


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