Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The last 60 seconds - a note to my 8th Graders

Hello my charming 8th Graders,

        Hope you are enjoying the 3 day weekend!

        On Sunday, my family and I hung out with two other families and we did something for the first time - we cooked together. We occasionally watch the Pats together and we decided to watch yesterday's game and try something new! 

        Now, mind you, we are 6 adults from various backgrounds - a chef who owns his own catering company, 3 teachers (I am in this group in case you didn't know), and 2 lawyers. We each took on different roles - two of us designed the menu, two went food shopping and provided the use of their kitchen, one brought his new cooking tools (a mandolin and a frialator), one took the role of dishwasher, etc. We all took turns cooking. And guess what? We created a rockin good meal - fried chicken, vegetable tempura, roasted potatoes, chocolate chip cookies and apple crisp - ALL FROM SCRATCH AND WITH NO RECIPES. How did we do this? Well, those of us who cook regularly used the skills and information we learned from school and experiences and we TAUGHT one another. For example, I learned from my friend the chef how to make a roux - a French cooking skill to help thicken sauces and soups. But, I didn't learn just the steps; I learned how and why it works - and it wasn't all from him telling me; in addition to my previous knowledge, I also looked up information: a roux - consisting of just two ingredients - butter and flour - requires that the butter be hot enough to cook the flour to break down the proteins glutenin and gliadin yet not too hot that the water evaporates and causes the fatty acids to break apart. 

Why do I share this story with you? For two reasons: 

one is that just like my friends, each of you comes with different strengths - your academic achievements, your out of school experiences, the gifts that you obtained from your parents, and your learning styles. And each of you has something to contribute - whether it's to your own individual assignment in class or a group project. You can learn from one another and compliment one another.

My second reason for bringing it up is that at any point in time and space, you have the ability to learn something new... to become more proficient, more passionate about any subject as it pertains to you. You are exposed to the information and then choose how to apply it and learn more to become more advanced. Just as my friend showed me how to make and the purpose of the roux, I applied my passions of chemistry to it and using my research skills and learning style, I found out how and why it worked. Did it take time? Yes. But with patience and persistence, I succeeded.  Could I have just asked my friend to explain it all to me. Absolutely. But, using my strengths and passions, I learned to become proficient in understanding the concept of a roux and passionate about it through my love of science. 

This is the philosophy I embrace and wish to effervesce into the class. It's ok if it takes you longer to understand a concept. It's fine if you spend time learning a new software. Find it easier to work with someone? Do it! Prefer to learn alone? Fine. Want to apply a concept to something not listed on your IPOA? Fantastic! As long as you are patient, persistent, and passionate - you can do anything! 

See you all tomorrow

Oh... yay Sox and Pats!