What’s cookin’

Over the past few days a new way of thinking about my classroom has emerged for me.  I have been thinking about how to be a co-student in my classroom, mentoring and learning along side the rest of the people in the room. After my week at Constructing Modern Knowledge (CMK10) I want so much to capture that feeling of collaboration, creation, and exploration.  I have a student teacher this year, and I am excited to work with and learn from him because he has much knowledge; I will have 74 new students who I am excited to work with and who also have much knowledge. There is much I can learn from them.

Classroom as Kitchen

I told my husband that I wanted to think of my classroom as a kitchen from now on. I love cooking with people. It is because I invite wonderful friends and family into my kitchen that I try new things. Would I have ever made rugelach if Melissa hadn’t brought the dough and filling to the Christmas Cookie-a-thon? Would I have ever made tamales and mole and that amazing pumpkin seed/jalapeño pesto if Katy hadn’t brought her tamale steamer? Would I have had the courage to make pickles if I hadn’t watched my grandmother or Mrs. Weber (in Hoven, SD) make pickles? Would I ever have thought about preparing and eating raw foods and how we could logically incorporate them into our traditional Thanksgiving feast without Lew, Duon, and Tim? The answer to all of these questions is  – “Heck, no.”

So what gives me the courage to experiment in the kitchen? To innovate? It’s cooking with the people that I love – Tom, Katy, Liz, Melissa, Susan, Sam, my daughters, Ellen – we collaborate, we teach each other, we are not afraid. And I also have “the ladies” – authors of cookbooks that I have read like novels, not for the recipes as for the processes and the courage to cook – Erma Rombauer (The Joy of Cooking), Julia Child & Louise Bertolde (Mastering the Art of French Cooking), Anna Thomas (The Vegetarian Epicure), Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins (The Silver Palette – and recipes with TOO many ingredients), and the lone gentleman – Edward Espe Brown (The Tassajara Bread Book**).

How will that translate into the classroom?

It’s a mindset and the expectation that each person will bring something to the class. Books to share, ideas, insights – and I have a project to start the year with that I hope will be a way to set that tone and develop that mindset.  My daughters have been listening to a song by Mike Posner Cooler Than Me. It’s infectious. It’s a total seventh grade song. I’m going to have my students listen to this song together, think about what makes it work, and using it as a model write a song that looks at how it is when you are a seventh grader and you think that everyone around you is cooler than you are. We will craft original sequences and collaborate on the music, write lyrics, make a video – and work together on a project.

I Don’t Know…

how this will all end up. I don’t know what the finished projects will look like. I don’t know what the songs will sound like. I don’t know how to sequence music. I do know how to scan and write poetry. I’ve never made a music video. But together we will figure it out. I also have mentors outside of class to help us solve problems when we hit an immovable wall.  We will talk about why “Cooler Than Me” uses the wrong pronoun but why that’s okay, we will figure out meter and rhyme, we will be learners together.

We are going to step off the edge together. We are going to create something new together. I’m nervous. I’m excited.

Now we are cookin’ ~

Cast Iron Pots image (cookin’ it old style) by cybrgrl

**Here is the dedication from the Tassajara Bread Book:

with respect and appreciation
to all my teachers
past, present and future:
gods, men, and demons;
beings, animate and inanimate,
living and dead, alive and dying.
Rock and water
wind and tree
bread dough rising
Vastly all
are patient with me.”

That seems like a perfect dedication to my classroom as well.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Liz says:

    Abby’s theme this year for her Language Arts Classes is “Recipe for reading, food for thought.”

    You two are teaching witches!

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      Oooh – I had no idea! That’s so cool. And I totally agree with her theme! We are related, aren’t we?

  2. Abby says:

    Hey Aunt Katie,
    So you want to know something. A: I am totally stealing your project. That is why I love you so much! B: Yes we are related because I also am using a song in my classroom “Airplanes”. The students each have to make a wish on an airplane for the quarter if the wish comes true in turns into a star and stays up all year. You also will get a reward for that. If you don’t reach your wish then you can keep it or change it to something more realistic or just different. I am hoping that it will be something other than my “Brick wall” to encourage the kids.
    Hope you are having fun on VK.
    Love you lots,

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      Steal that project! Let’s see how this all works out! I love the idea of the “Airplanes.” I’m looking at using the book “Ish” by Peter Reynolds and “Instructions” by Neil Gaiman as early books – check them out.
      Having a ball on VK. See you so soon.

  3. ava says:

    The kitchen is a wonderful way to collaborate and work with others so that everyone learns. This is a excellent way to think of your classroom!

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      First, thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog and post a reply. And then, the more I think about this as a mind set for collaboration, the stronger it becomes for me. My time in the kitchen in fundamental part of my life, and to see how collaboration works there and to replicate that in the classroom now seems like a big – duh. I am excited to return this fall and see how this changes the classroom for us all.

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