Saturday, March 19, 2016

Recipe swap - 3.19 #sol16 Story Challenge

Standardized tests are looming for (and often simultaneously being ignored by) my students. Doing some orientation with released testing items this week, I had the epiphany that writing plans resemble recipes. So, I asked my eighth graders to write and share a recipe for something they know how to make. I didn't specify cooking, but that's the direction most took. Many students didn't get much past lists of ingredients or comically imprecise directions. We turned those into pictures to highlight our confusion. (Sample image: jar of peanut butter squashing loaf of break to capture 'put PB on bread.') Then, I asked students to revise a recipe to clear up the confusion. The commitment to and thoroughness of their revisions nearly knocked me over, particularly coming from a group often reluctant to write. For one student, a humble list like this:

  • 4 potatoes
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Cilantro

Became these cookbook-worthy directions:

  • First, heat up a teflon skillet to full blast and add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Then, cut up 5 russet potatoes into very small square chunks, put them on the skillet when it is to its maximum heat.
  • After, stir until the potatoes are warm. Then add 1 tablespoon of basil and 1 tablespoon of italian seasoning and a literal pinch of salt.
  • After all of that, put the potatoes on a plate then add 1 cup of shredded american cheese.
  • Then after that, serve to the people...

 Might just try that for breakfast one of these weekend mornings.


  1. Love this idea! Maybe I'll try this with my class. Amazing how those revisions came out. I like how they drew pictures of the steps.

  2. Ah, testing season.

    I remember doing a similar exercise in fifth grade, and how much fun we all had deliberately misunderstanding the vague directions in the rough drafts.

  3. Great way to liven up revision! Short, sweet and meaningful!

  4. I do something similar with my class when we're learning how to write how to books. My students tell me the directions to make a PB&J and I write them down. Then I pull out the ingredients and follow their exact directions. Lots of laughs and lessons about specificity learned! Your sample recipe definitely sounds worth trying--Yum!

  5. Love the idea of having students create pictures to lead into revision. Also love the idea of adding cilantro, basil and Italian seasoning to friend potatoes. YUM!!

  6. Sounds like this was a great lesson in many ways. Great idea!

  7. I always enjoyed the first round of making a recipe - loved your picture version - jar of pb on bread. Great learning for your students.