The Advanced Baking course which I teach has been written as a very onesided course for many years. It is geared mostly towards cake decorating with little to no student choice built into the curriculum. In the three years that I have been teaching the course, I have mostly taught it “off curriculum” with the full knowledge of my supervisor. There is an opportunity to rewrite the curriculum documents this summer to make it into a more well-rounded course.
The users of this prototype are the Baking and Advanced Baking students at the high school in which I teach. These students enter Baking with a basic skill set and understanding of cooking and baking. They have an interest in the subject matter and a wide range of baked goods that they want to learn to make.
In this prototype, the units of study for both the Baking and Advanced Baking courses were sorted into the most relevant course. Then additional columns break each unit into more specific “big ideas” or concepts and finally there is a set of suggested activities and labs for each unit as well. I am testing to see if each unit has been assigned to the appropriate course as well as the equal distribution of time and resources to each unit. I am also testing to see if the activities and labs give adequate choices to the students.
Due to the current COVID 19 Pandemic the protocol had to be somewhat adjusted. Instead of having face-to-face meetings and focus groups everything had to be done at a proper social distance. I asked a mix of students and colleagues to look at the Scope and Sequence. My colleagues gave feedback to me via email. The current Advanced Baking students, who have taken Baking but have only experienced a small fraction of the current Advanced Baking curriculum, provided feedback by making comments on a Goole Doc version of the prototype. Finally, my independent study students who have taken both the Baking and Advanced Baking courses in full joined me for a Google Meet session and had a focus group discussion about the prototype. I planned questions in advance but asked everyone to give feedback in any area in which they felt it was necessary.
When the feedback started to arrive I was initially a bit surprised by it. The current Advanced Baking students were the first ones to provide feedback and while some of them were able to step back and look at it objectively others were very focused on the topics that were added to Baking that they hadn’t had a chance to cover. These students felt that the custards unit, for example, should be moved to Advanced Baking because they hadn’t covered it yet. Once I explained that this was for future classes and they would not be affected by it they adjusted their thinking and were able to provide more relevant feedback.
My colleagues liked the Scope and Sequence and did not feel that anything needed to be changed. They especially liked the addition of the science experiments and taste testing to give students a real look (and taste) at how ingredients change a product. This was also the case with the independent study students who were the most experienced of all the students that provided feedback. One student commented, “I wish I could take the class again Mrs. K, you added some cool stuff”. Overall I think this prototype was very very successful. Some minor tweaking will need to be done before the new curriculum documents are written but it is mostly complete.
Something to think about for the future…
One student said, “I don’t want to do the sourdough unit because I don’t want to take care of a starter but I guess I can see why its a good unit”. This comment reminded me that even with a more well-rounded curriculum not everyone will be happy all of the time. If they are more interested in one certain area of baking they are going to want to focus there. They still need to go through all of the units so they can have a full baking repertoire but it would be great if there was something more independent to follow it up. With this in mind, I am planning to speak with my supervisor and ask for either an Independent Baking class or smaller class sizes that will allow room for more independent study students in each period. The students would be eligible for the independent experiences after finishing Baking and Advanced Baking.