Thursday, October 6, 2011

Child Labor? No, Challenge Based Learning!

Some may consider charging your children with the task of preparing the family dinner as another chore or act of laziness on the part of one's parental responsibilities.  However, this week, I argue the opposite.  Challenging my daughters to plan, prepare, and deliver our family supper was instead a call to self-directed learning at the highest level.

How it began:  Due to parent teacher conferences in our district, my children were home alone for the entire day, while we, their parents, were working at school from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m.  The girls wanted to have some friends over to work on Digital Divas projects, which I had agreed to.  We planned to keep communication active with a running iChat stream for questions and updates throughout the day.   Before conferences began I got the idea to tie the current theme of "Rock Our World" into a real-life challenge for the girls.  Learning about "Healthy Eating" could take on a more concrete meaning if they actually put it into practice.  In addition, I would have the burden of cooking supper after a long day at work already done for me when I returned home.  It was a win-win idea!

I quickly concocted a Keynote slide deck and used PhotoBooth to record myself "pitching" the challenge to the girls.  Immediately after receiving and reviewing the Keynote presentation, they assembled a collaborative team and began digging in to the challenge.

The girls searched websites online regarding nutrition, cookbooks for healthy recipe ideas, and brainstormed ideas for answering some of their guiding questions including:
  • What makes food "healthy?"
  • How to ensure all food groups are included? and
  • How to make the meal easy, affordable, AND tasty, too!
Working with their friends they compiled their shopping list, rode their bikes to the grocery store, and returned ready to begin the work in the kitchen.  They utilized guiding resources including questions via iChat to me and via telephone to grandma. In true CBL fashion, they documented their entire process, complete with behind the scenes "reflection videos" and a little silly fun, too!

DigitalDivas_14 DigitalDivas_1 DigitalDivas_38

By the time we came home from parent-teacher conferences, the girls had cooked a meal, created a video, and even cleaned up after themselves.  They had learned new things about grocery store pricing and heat-resistant cookware.  They tried new foods and incorporated fruits and vegetables into a meal plan, something we all don't do enough of.  Unfortunately for me, their efforts were so successful that they ended up eating most of the final product as well.  But my small "taste-test" of a meal was well worth the learning these girls experienced under their own direction and thinking.  

"It's about the journey, not the destination!"

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