Conducting a cooking class through Zoom

I was invited by Jocelyn from the SCGS alumni committee to conduct a cooking class through Zoom for mothers and children. (At first I was asked to do one just for children but I declined because I had some concerns about children handling knives without adult supervision.)

I decided on Cottage Pie and Zucchini Crisps because they were both easy for me to do. I also roped in my good friend Hui Jia, an early childhood teaching specialist, to co-host the class.

My setup (excuse the mess!)

The pieces of paper you see taped below the lap top are the prompts I wrote out to remind myself of what to do and say. I also highlighted areas where Hui Jia was supposed to cut in with some interesting facts about the food.

Jocelyn’s children, Becks, Pirate and Ems (from left to right), busy in the kitchen during the class.

It was an interesting experience because I couldn’t monitor how the participants were progressing in the class.

Here are some things that didn’t go so well:

  • When checking in, I realised some participants were really far behind.
  • Some participants missed certain steps. For example, one participant missed the step when I put in the cheese and had to come back and ask me what to do.
  • One participant grated her zucchini using the ribbon side of her box grater because I had said, “Use the largest holes of your grater”.
  • One participant didn’t have enough mashed potatoes for her shepherd’s pie.
  • One participant asked which setting the oven should be used to brown the top of her pie
  • One participant mentioned that her children were arguing over which jobs they could do.
  • A participant asked how thin the zucchini crisps should be

How I intend to make the next experience better:

  • Ask participants to watch first and then carry out the demonstrated step. I’ll also ask them to indicate they are done by using the thumbs up symbol so we can carry on. I’ll make sure to state this at the beginning of the class.
  • Co-host can help to monitor the students more closely. Also tell participants how to indicate if they need more time, for example, tell the co-host or unmute themselves because it’s difficult for me to monitor the chat function when the laptop is far away from me.
  • Indicate clearly the size of the ingredients e.g. 3 medium sized potatoes (potatoes should be the size of tennis balls) on the recipe
  • Give tips on how to get your dish to be very presentable / appetising
  • Give tips to parents on how to divide work among their children so that it can be carried out more smoothly.

Things to keep doing:

  • Give tips on how children can safely participate
  • Give interesting information on the ingredients.

Some other notes for myself:

  • I need a better introduction.
  • I should highlight that I have a zero waste focus.

I’m really grateful to Jocelyn for the opportunity and to Hui Jia for being a super co-host. I had soooo much fun that I think I might make this a regular thing.

My other thoughts are that I would love for my school students to produce their own cookings segments and I hope to build on the learning from this experience to get students to do this in future.

Engaging student work

I was asked to reflected on the ‘quality learning of students’ during the full home-based learning (fHBL) period.

So I started with asking myself, “What is ‘quality learning’?”

The first result on Google is this:

Learning that is purposeful, learning in which learners are provided with the ability to effectively learn, and retain skills and knowledge gained. It is usually associated with or based on student satisfaction with the learning process.” [Source]

A bit more digging produced this website that has a framework for quality learning.

In going through that site, I was particularly drawn to the last bit on ‘Qualities of Engaging Student Work

Based on the way some of the learners responded to the lessons, that is, they mainly showed a total lack of interest in it, I would say that I really need to increase the engagement factor of my lessons. Sometimes I get so caught up in the “delivery of knowledge” that I forget these basic principals.

To internalise what the site says about engaging student work, I have attempted to write it here in my own words.

Qualities of Engaging Student Work

1. Personal Response – Work that is engaging to students is work that is significant to the student (ie, it is meaningful to them). So when students respond (ie, explain their answers or their logic/reasoning to the answers, they are more personally invested. It shouldn’t be them giving the one correct answer, because that is just recall. Instead it should be them making predictions, connections, comparisons, saying “I think… because…” etc. It is best when everyone can give a personal response, therefore it is probably more useful for everyone to write their response instead of just a handful of students giving their verbal response.

2. Clear / modelled expectations of what success looks like – For example, these will be in the form of clear objectives of an activity and what learning outcomes are expected, visual exemplars or rubrics and self-assessment, clear formats and procedures, quantity and quality of personal responses expected etc.

3. Emotional and intellectual safety when giving personal responses – Students are more engaged when they do not have to fear embarrassment, punishment, or implications that they are inadequate. More safety is required especially when learners have to give personal responses that are supported with logic, reasoning or explanations.

4. Learning has a social component – Students are more engaged when their work permits, encourages, and supports opportunities for them to work interdependently with others. This is different from students working independently on a common task which is what most group work is. Examples of this include think-pair-share, small group discussion, peer revision or review, students expressing an opinion based on work that another student has done.

5. Students work is shared so that they feel they have an audience (that is not just the teacher) – Students are highly motivated when parents, significant others, peers make it known to the student that their work is important. Portfolios that show student work play a role in making student work more visible.

6. Students have choice and meaningful options – Students are more engaged when they have a choice over what they are doing and are more likely to feel committed to it. Examples of this include tiered assignments, self-selected reading materials, choice on product they produce or how they decide to present their final work (e.g. graphic organiser vs essay vs in a song), selecting tasks from a list. I must be careful not to overwhelm the students with choice.

7. There is surprise and variety in the learning experiences – Give the students new and different ways of doing things.  New technology and techniques, however, shouldn’t be used to create new ways to do the same old work- new forms of work and new products are equally important. Students can produce a variety of products, all contribute different perspectives on a topic, have fun integrated into their lesson such as through gamification, be according to the students interests, include stimulations and role plays, respond to “in the voice of”

8. Authentic to the learner by connecting it to their prior knowledge and experiences – So the work should be relevant to the age group, somehow represents the personalities of the learners, has activities that are connected to real life, inquiry or discovery learning, hands-on activities, based on current events and issues, allows students to transfer and synthesise the knowledge beyond just content given to them.

I am going to keep coming back to this over and over again.


I was asked, “What are some of the changes in your life you have had to make as a result of adapting to online teaching?”

The biggest change has been in making exercise, movement and eye-rest a very conscious and deliberate thing. Physically speaking, online teaching requires that I sit for long periods of time in front of a computer, so I have to remind myself to get up and move my body, even if it’s just to go to the kitchen to make myself some tea. I also try to do the ‘stare at something at least 6 m away’ every 20 minutes.

The next change I have had to make is to let go of rigid control over my learners. The fact is that if they are not attempting my work at the allocated time period, there is only so much I can do about that. Also, if students are working on another piece of work before my period and are in a state of flow, do I really want to try and force them to stop just so that they can work on my subject? As a teacher, I am supposed to provide structure and instil discipline, but I think there are better and more appropriate ways to do so. Learning, especially online, is not always going to happen at the time I say it is going to happen.

Another change I have made is to increase my time spent on learning how to teach online. Although I am digitally savvy and count myself as a relatively competent face-to-face teacher, I still struggled a lot with online teaching. There’s definitely an art to delivering teaching online and I realised I have a lot of knowledge and skill gaps in that art. Hence, I have embarked on trying to fill those gaps.

Brief reflection on teaching online

This morning’s read: E-Tutoring: Teaching, Supporting, Managing and Assessing Students Online

Here are my responses to some of the questions posed on their website:

What would it mean to you for your students to be “empowered” by online learning? 

It would mean that students can learn at anytime and anywhere, as long as they have some sort of learning device and an internet connection.

They can attain mastery as they can practice repeatedly and gain immediate feedback.

They can help themselves and help each other through platforms such as forums.

What are the emerging learning needs for experts in your discipline, how might these change the emphasis of existing course objectives and how might online learning support these? 

I think we need to learn how to design curriculum with e-learning in mind. There is definitely a question of how to teach practical skills (such as cooking) online, or even more challenging, how do you assess those practical skills online?

What are your personal opportunities and concerns for e-learning and e-tutoring?

Opportunities – I see e-tutoring (or teaching online / HBL) as an opportunity to expand my skillset. The website mentions that a good face-to-face teacher may not necessarily be a good online tutor, even if the technical abilities are added. I also see e-tutoring as a way of expanding my reach with my teaching.

Concerns – I have often heard Web 2.0 applications being likened to a microphone. It will amplify whatever voice is put to it, whether the singer is good or bad. I am concerned that if I am not so competent in my online teaching, that this will be magnified in some way.

Using ePortfolios or blogs for Home Economics lessons

An ePortfolio, is a website that enables students to collate digital evidence of their learning. Sort of like how I am using this blog as digital evidence of my learning. 

How an ePortfolio or blog can enhance learning

  • It increases peer and collaborative learning between students and teachers when ePortfolios are made visible to other students. For example, students can view each other’s finished products after a cooking class and learn where their peers have done well or not so well.
  • Students have a place to document their achievement and because it can be made visible to peers and the public, it would make the work more meaningful for them (and possibly make them take their work more seriously.) 
  • Would allow students and teacher to look back at the students previous work, any assumptions they might have had on a topic, discussions and work processes
  • ePortfolios accommodate a range of learning styles because it can contain a wide range of files, such as text documents, pictures, videos, links to websites and other online resources. This would be a great way for students to store pictures of the dishes they have cooked or mind maps they have done. Students could even use the portfolio to store pictures/pdfs of their worksheets. 
  • Students will be able to receive more feedback and in a more timely manner because it will be easier for teachers to monitor students’ progress.
  • Increased feedback from teachers will encourage students to reflect more deeply on their own learning
  • Process work can be recorded (instead of just finished products), which would make it easier for students to be reflective of their learning. For example, students could add video clips of their cooking techniques.
  • If students can leave comments on each other’s work which helps students to develop digital literacy skills that enables them to become fully participatory citizens in society

Other advantages of using an ePortfolio or blog

  • Teachers can more easily form supportive relationships with students over the course of their study through interacting with the student’s portfolio
  • Reduces the need to pass bulky portfolios back and forth between teacher and student
  • ePortfolios can help students stay organised 
  • Students become more confident in co-producing class knowledge and content
  • Students can get help on their work outside of class hours from each other and the teacher
  • Students can express their opinions online. This might be good for students who are more shy.


  • Time needed to teach students how to use the e-portfolio unless they have learnt during another subject (FCE has very limited face time with the students so this can be challenging)
  • Time needed at the beginning to set up the structure of the ePortfolio for the students.
  • Some students may be apprehensive about using the technology and may need considerable support
  • Students may not have access to the technology to make it easy for them to build the ePortfolio
  • Possible increase in workload if the teacher doesn’t determine at the beginning the how and when the ePortfolio should be graded

Possible ways to overcome challenges

  • Set aside time after school to teach students the technology
  • Create explainer videos for the students so they can teach themselves
  • Have a clear plan right in the beginning on how the ePortfolio should be used (e.g. a repository of finished work? Process work?) and what, how and when comments should be given to students and grading should be done.

Possible platforms that can be used for an ePortfolio or blog

Free platforms

  • Google Sites 
  • Microsoft OneNote
  • Blogging platforms such as WordPress, Blogger, TypePad
  • Padlet

Paid platforms

  • PebblePad seems like a great platform because there are built in ways to grade the portfolio / blog, but you cannot trial the product as an individual and plans start from £25/year (SGD$43.25; AUD$46.75). 

Some articles on ePortfolios

4 ways ePortfolios are going beyond college resume building

Applying Kerry Gallagher’s ‘What If’s to Home Economics lessons

Today I searched Google for “considerations for putting student work on social media” and this is the first link that appeared. It was written by Kerry Gallagher. As sometimes happens with surfing the internet, I went down a little bit of a rabbit hole and landed up watching her TEDx talk:

Here are some of my take-aways from the video.

  1. Technology must enhance student’s learning (Ok, this is not new, but I feel it’s important to repeat to myself so that I don’t get caught up in just the hype of the technology.)
  2. Use digital quizzes for Assessment for Learning (AfL). When students can see where others are making mistakes, they feel less alone. Also, instant feedback is motivating.
  3. Technology enhances group work and allows everyone to work on areas that they are stronger in.
  4. Technology allows students to contact experts. Her students contacted creators of certain apps / online tools.
  5. Publish student work or allow students to publish their work – on blogs, on social media, etc. This makes the work meaningful for the students because they can gain recognition from others (as opposed to just doing work to obtain a grade).

How I can apply this to Food & Consumer Education / Food & Nutrition / Food technology lessons:

  1. Mantra: Technology must enhance student’s learning.
  2. Use quiz function in Student Learning Space for AfL. Though student’s cannot see other’s results, the students can get instant feedback and see immediately where they need to clarify their learning.
  3. Incorporate the use of technology for Sec 1 group projects. This allows for differentiation, ie, students can use their strengths to work on different aspects of the project.
  4. The Sec 3, 4 and 5 students contact chefs, food scientists, nutritionists or food entrepreneurs.
  5. Students to contribute to food blogs, YouTube channels and publish their recipes. Give students a specific # to use to share their food creations.