Inspector Graham Rowlands tells Diana Hinds about an inspiring food technology lesson
The thing I liked particularly about this design and technology lesson was that it could have gone terribly wrong. It relied on the children knowing exactly what was expected of them: they did - and they enjoyed doing it.
This lesson was fun. It took place during a morning in late spring term, and part of work the children were doing was on food. The class - a mixed age group across years one and two, and mixed ability - were divided into two groups, of about 15 each. One group was drawing teddy bears, with help from a parent, leaving the teacher and a trainee nursery nurse free to focus on the other half of the class.
Before this lesson, the children had been to the shops with the teacher and parents to buy fruit. The lesson was well prepared, and the objectives clear: to allow each child to make a fruit kebab. Everything was set up for them before the lesson started, and each had a plate of fruit, of different sizes and colours. Each child also had a round-edged household knife that wasn't particularly sharp.
The teacher began by talking about what they were going to do, and showing an example of a kebab she had made herself - being careful to emphasise that this was hers, and the children were to use their own imagination. She talked about hygiene (the children had washed their hands), and about the importance of food tasting and looking good. She encouraged them to take colour and pattern into consideration, to make their kebab look attractive.
The children were totally involved in the lesson. The knives were not a problem and the children showed good cutting skills. They experimented with pieces of apple, banana, tangerine and pear, arranged on plastic skewers.
For the more dexterous, there were also kiwi fruit and grapes to try. The teacher effectively questioned the children about what they were doing. She had high expectations and if a piece of fruit they had cut didn't work first time and fell off, she told them to have another go.
Each child made one or two kebabs to take home (the inspector ate one, too), and they were scrupulous about not eating the fruit as they worked. When some children picked up fruitwhich had fallen on the floor and were about to use it in their kebabs, the teacher spotted what was happening and took the chance to talk more about germs.
In a plenary session towards the end of the hour-long lesson, the children evaluated each other's work, and there was some good discussion about healthy eating and fruits from different countries. They also talked more about hygiene, and about how the kebabs were to be taken home - in cling film.
Overall, it was a jolly lesson. The children were well-behaved, and focused. There was no need to worry about keeping them on task, because they were so interested: the motivational factor was in the lesson plan. The learning was done in an enjoyable way, with ideas for discussion coming out quite naturally, and the teacher's questions leading the children on to the next thing.
With only half the class, and the nursery nurse trainee's support, it was a chance for the teacher to be relaxed with them, to get round everyone and keep them all going forward. She had plenty of room and plenty of time for them, and she achieved the target of the lesson with each child.
For each child to make their own fruit kebab, with practice in cutting and assembling, and work with colour and pattern. Each should be able to carry out the activities, and produce something individual at the end of it.
Expedition, with teacher and parents, to local shop to buy a range of fruit: some mathematical work involved here. Children should wash their hands before the start of the lesson, and the fruit should be ready prepared for them on their desks, with plates and knives (round-edged).
Introductory talk about objectives (with fruit kebab example made by teacher), colour and pattern, hygiene aspects. Main part of lesson devoted to children's exploration of fruit cutting, arranging and assembling, with teacher supervision and questioning.
Follow-up activity planned for children who finish early, such as pattern-work on paper or computer.
Plenary session, in which children evaluate what they have made and discuss issues arising from the work, such as healthy eating, food hygiene and transportation.