3 Great PIDP Digital Projects


Here are three digital projects that I picked from past PIDP Students that I found to be relevant to the culinary courses I teach. 1) Formative Quiz Techniques, 2) Demonstration and 3) Inclusion.

Formative Quiz Techniques: This is a technique that rates very high in teaching students how to

Learn. It’s a technique that I’m excited about bring into my classrooms to help students in their learning. Asking questions is a technique that I use during my own learning and feel comfortable using it with my students. As students ask and answer questions, they naturally start conversations on the topic as they share with the group validating their own understanding or creating opportunities to clarify concepts that are not fully understood.

    It’s important as the instructor to figure out what method of quiz is the most effective for you and your class, online question and answers, Clickers, or simple pen and paper. It is important to make sure you have the time for this so that students are not rushed and the quiz and answers discussion time is done in a healthy, positive atmosphere. Showing students how you write questions on test and giving them immediate feedback really helps them prepare for a test and can relieve any sort of anxiety they may be having.

I feel it is well worth the time in planning out classroom quiz sections to help optimize student learning.


Demonstration: This is a strategy where the instructor shows students exactly what to do. This is something that I have been doing for years, never looking at it as a strategy but just as something I have been doing. In the video, the five important parts of a demonstration are presented. Step 2) Cue and step 5) Intersperse demo with practice, are steps that I need to pay more attention to in the demonstrations I do.

    Good demonstration techniques are very valuable in the culinary arts in that if students are not included, focused or not paying attention, it becomes a waste of time. The instructions should be clear, including the modeling of the techniques, so that, while the students are observing, they are clear about the new skill and the new knowledge can be translated to practice with little confusion.

    Because students come from diverse backgrounds and have different learning styles, it is important to ensure demonstrations reflect a diverse way of doing things so that all the students benefit from the experience.

Inclusion: Whether I am teaching a professional culinary course at a college or a community class, the one thing that I can be certain of is that the class(es) will be filled with a diverse student body with many different levels of skills, ages, backgrounds, language and communication skills.

    As the instructor, it is my responsibility to ensure that everyone in the class feels included throughout the course or program. Feeling like you belong or fit in can play an important role in a student’s engagement and their overall learning.

   In the video on Inclusion, a strategy in adult education the presenter did a great job of highlighting what Inclusion is, the limitation, our roles and gave a great example in the classroom. In a nutshell it is my responsibility to create a safe and comfortable environment for everyone to succeed during any class that I teach. I can accomplish this by being clear about the rules and guidelines set up by the institution on the first day of class, as well as being clear about what are my class expectations. It is also important that students know know who to talk to if they are having problems and that they know that my door is always open.

It is important that I let students know that I value them being in class and that this is an experience we are working on together. Time is always a factor in every ones lives and the time put into developing a culture of inclusion benefits everyone. It builds confidence and self esteem. Ultimately creating opportunities for your students by enhancing classroom activities, adding flexibility and developing community.


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Learning How To Learn, What works for you?

Nothing in life is black and white and what works for one person may not work for another. So when it comes to learning how to learn, the days of just highlighting text and note taking are over. Teaching students to develop multiple strategies is your best bet when it comes to modern teaching practices.

    Figuring out what works for you when it comes to your own learning means more than just developing good study guides. It means figuring out when are the best times for you to learn, it means changing those times up, sitting in a chair at times and standing at other times. Working in the library and at home, inside or out, with music or in silence. Changing up your study environment can actually increase your learning dramatically. Also experimenting with different study techniques is valuable. Different strategies can be helpful for different tests. For example in the big think blog, author Simon Oxenham explains, “Summarising and note taking were found to be beneficial for preparing for written exams but less useful for types of tests that do not require students to generate information – such as multiple choice tests”(Oxenham). Two of my new favorites I learned in Simon’s blog big think are Practice testing and when students start developing their own questions. When a student starts asking why, the technique becomes even more effective. Just say yes to flash cards! And Distributed Practice cramming just does not make for good long term information retention. So spread it out, put in a little study time each day and over the long term it will pay off in your overall learning success.

    For me, with reading text, highlighting is a great strategy for remembering where useful information is, but unless I take that information out of the book and start writing about it or verbalizing it the actual process of highlighting does nothing for me as far as any sort of meaningful retention goes.

    When I think about the diverse student population and the multiple techniques we used to teach them, I feel the same must be true for how the students learn. So when it comes to them learning how to learn we should make time to engage our students with more than the days course content, we should include ways for them to learn, understand, retain and even develop new content. In doing so, I believe we are developing a fuller, holistic teaching practice.


Oxenham, Simon. “The Lesson You Never Got Taught in School: How to Learn!” Weblog post.

     Big   Think. Web. 30 Apr. 2016. <http://bigthink.com/neurobonkers/assessing-the-evidence-for-the-one-thing-you-never-get-taught-in-school-how-to-learn&gt;.


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 Reflective Practice & The Action That Makes It Effective!

“Reflective practice requires a conscious effort to think about events, and develop insights into them.” Asking questions about an experience. Contemplating them, verbalizing them, then changing what you do. Or how you think. This is reflective practice, a practice that leads to new skills and understandings and ultimately plays a role in making us better people.

    I have practiced reflection in the past, but I did not analyse the reflection or talk about it. I did very little meaningful transformative work based on these reflections. After the classes I taught, I had very little interaction with other colleagues to develop any sort of dialogue around any reflection that I had. I’ve realized my reflections were just thoughts that really ended up going nowhere.

    I’ve come to understand, the pre, during and post class reflections play an important role in the student’s learning experience. Critical Reflection can also play a role in developing relationships with other instructors. It makes me a better instructor as well, it creates an open faculty culture that values change and personal development.

    Some key insights I now have is that my years of experience in the culinary arts add depth to my teaching. But that without reflection, my future classes may become stale fast. When I add critical reflection to those day to day classes, I become a better instructor and create a more engaging learning environment for the adult student. The bonus is that this reflection does not have to be an in depth, labour intensive activity. It can be quick and done in a way that can bring a meaningful outcome from the reflection.

    For example a conversation with a peer about a key point on how a class went asking for feedback, asking a student how the learning environment is working for them or talking about the class experience with your partner, friends or fellow instructor to gain new insights on your teaching practice. I feel that involving others in the reflection and looking for feedback creates more of an authentic reflection. Ultimately one that leads to meaningful growth making me a better student, cook and teacher.



“Reflective Practice.” Skills You Need. Web. 30 Apr. 2016.


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Make Them Believe In You

Teacher credibility is vital to learning, an updated study reveals. But what can you do to win your pupils round?” Darren Evans reports

    Looks like the research is in and teacher credibility is ranked as one of the top attributes accredited for positive learning experiences for students. This comes as no surprise to me because, much like any other relationship I have in my life, if trust is absent and if I don’t believe in the person the relationship is thin and empty.

    In teaching, if that relationship is thin and empty, if my students don’t believe in me, if there’s no trust, then it is obvious to me that students in my class, will not be paying attention and not absorbing the information that I’m trying to teach them.

    Building trust and credibility as a teacher doesn’t happen on it’s own and it’s not something that I deserve or am entitled to, because of my experience or mastery of the subject I’m teaching. The trust and credibility must be worked on. It must be tended to and effort must be put into developing the student-teacher relationship.

    This can happen in several ways. Primarily it is me respecting the student by showing up to class on time and prepared. I expect my students to put effort into the class, they expect the same of me. I need to put effort into organizing the class. That’s part of my job. Body language is also important. What I say to the class with my eyes, my smile, how I hold myself is just as important as what I am saying to the class. As teachers it is sometimes easy to fall back on lecturing the class, but a big part of developing credibility and trust is listening to what students have to say.

A few simple steps that go a long way in building credibility while increasing the engagement of your students.


Evans, Darren. “Make Them Believe in You.” Editorial. https://www.tes.com/article.aspx?storycode=6179294. TESS, 13 Mar. 2012. Web. <https://www.tes.com/article.aspx?storycode=6179294>.

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Confirmation Bias, There is a Cure!

In the late 90’s I was working just outside New York. The chef I was working for at the time said to me “Francois, I’d hire an untrained Mexican, who can’t speak english and train them, over the top students of any culinary college, who knows everything any time.”

    Why? Confirmation bias. People with closed minds or the unwillingness to look at or take another’s perspective can be hard to work with or teach. Knowing this and experiencing it as a teacher in the culinary arts, I feel it’s my responsibility not only to teach my students the skills and knowledge they’ll need out in the workforce, but also to teach them the skills and knowledge they will need so they can adapt, be flexible and continue their learning when they start working in restaurants, post culinary training. Doing this sets them up for success, turns them into sponges that have the ability to see things for what they are and not what they think they are or what they think they know they are.

    So what’s the cure? I like Dr. Louise Rasmussen, an applied cognitive psychologist’s ideas. In an article she wrote titled Confirmation Bias: 3 Effective (and 3 Ineffective) Cures, Dr Rasmussen explains that it’s human nature to want to believe and search out what best fits our needs, our world view. So how do we move forward?

“1. Stick to your guns. Don’t abandon your first guesses too readily. Sometimes your initial expectation may be neither 100% right, nor 100% wrong.” (Rasmussen, 2016)

“2: Open your mind. Learn how to think of a few far-out alternatives and keep an eye out for evidence that supports any one of them.” (Rasmussen, 2016)

“3: Embrace surprises when they happen to you. When you feel that something didn’t go exactly as you expected, consider that you need to refine some hypotheses about how things are working. (Rasmussen, 2016)

Very well said Dr., statements I’ll be placing on the wall in my classroom. And making it a point to reference her three strategies whenever appropriate.



Rasmussen, Louise, Dr. “Confirmation Bias: 3 Effective (and 3 Ineffective) Cures.” Web log post.

    Global Cognition. 15 Nov. 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.

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Supporting Students To Build Creative Confidence

    When David Kelley talks about building creative confidence, he says when people “actually start working on the things that are really important in their lives, we see people quit what they’re doing and go in new directions, we see them come up with more interesting and more, just more ideas so they can choose from some better ideas and they just make better decisions.” Building creative confidence in people, is David’s change the world idea!

    David’s words really resonate with me and I’d like to take them to heart as I reflect on my teaching practice. How can I inspire my students and build their creative confidence.  

    During my apprenticeship, Bruno Marti, the first chef I worked for, allowed for an open space to create, within the boundaries and guidelines that he felt acceptable in his restaurant. He was strict about the quality of food, your workmanship and cleanliness but at the same time generous with constructive feedback and willing to have open conversation around my culinary experience and learning. He asked a lot of his apprentices and in return he was willing to share with you all the knowledge he had. An example of this is, he had a small farm with sheep. Every year we would slaughter the 6 to 10 sheep and butcher them up at the restaurant. One year I asked about the sheep’s brain, “why don’t we use the brain?”. Bruno responded with, “it’s a lot of work”. He then left to the hardware store came back with a hacksaw and said to me “this is how you remove the brain! Now, I want you to take them out of all 9 heads and I’ll show you how to cook them. We’ll put a brain appetizer on the menu and I would like you to develop the presentation.”

    He had the ability to create memorable learning experiences, that inspired and supported creativity. In a nutshell Bruno filled the kitchen with positive praise and supported creativity with all his cooks.

    I’ve found emulating Bruno’s approach as I work in kitchens and classrooms has helped to build creative confidence in my students as well as building self esteem, helping cooks and student find their path in life. And for me, this is as important as what we are learning in our books!



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7 Elements of Digital Storytelling in 4 Minutes

      In his youtube video, Paul Iwancio explains Jill Lambert’s seven elements of effective digital storytelling: 1) Point Of View, 2) Dramatic Question, 3) Emotional Content, 4) Voice, 5) Soundtrack, 6) Pacing and 7) Economy, a picture tell a thousand word. Along with keeping it short, two to four minutes.

    Understanding the elements of digital storytelling is very important to deliver a story that engages students and entices them to dig deeper into subject matter. But before developing digital stories, that I would use in my own class, I need to understand why I would use the digital storytelling format and ask if it is relevant to students today.

    Moving from the students focusing on my voice, to encouraging them to become critical, creative thinkers and risk takes can happen by embracing technology to help tell a story related to the content. College Cengage has some good advice on their web site on implementing this sort of active learning, “1. Recognize that the goals of active learning differ from those of passive learning. 2. Tell students what you are doing. 3. Direct and redirect class discussions. 4. Use wait time effectively. 5. Manage risk”(college.cengage.com). And for me most importantly mindfully planning and designing my culinary classes so that the students and myself can enjoy and benefit from the learning opportunities that are presented through digital storytelling, which helps in creating active learning environments.


    In past classes, I have had no interaction with the students at all until they come through the door ready with little knowledge of the course other than the title and course description. There are three ways I could use digital storytelling in my culinary classes to help engage students and create more of an active learning environment. Generally a week before class I get a list of all the students’ names and their email addresses, which creates a perfect opportunity for first contact.


Scenario 1: Email – Thanks for signing up for this class. Check out this 2min  video. What’s the relevance of what this Chef is doing? What does it mean to you?

After the class intro, I can ask the students how they felt about the video and start a class discussion.


Scenario 2: Email-  Take a look @ what we’ll be cooking with next week! I’ll be blogging 9 reasons why this is a great way to cook. Decide for yourself in a class discussion.

As the class is working on their recipes and I am walking around the room I’ll be promoting conversations between the student on how they feel about the cooking technique.


Scenario 3: Facebook – Great class last night I’ve posted some alternatives to the recipes that we made using only local ingredients on my blog. I’ll be at the Wednesday Bowen Farm Market 4 til 5 and would be happy to give you some tips around cooking using some great products grown locally. Next week’s class we are going to be talking about the integration of local food into recipes we use every day.

I like a challenge, post one of your favorite recipes on my facebook page and during next week’s class we’ll discuss how to localize it.


I’m not sure if any of these scenarios will work to begin developing digital storytelling for my classes, but I feel like it will be a great start to developing more student conversation and less lecturing on a subject that I love. Because most students today are connected to the internet using email and facebook, to start and passalong the story makes perfect sense in this day and age.

    So this brings me back to the 7 elements of Digital Storytelling. I agree with all seven, one thing that I would add is passion. Use the passion you have on the subject matter you are the master of to start the ball rolling and take a chance with using digital storytelling as a way of engaging your students in the course content.



Implementing Active Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved February 10, 2016, from  



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The Gift of Failure


A friend of mine works at Nike’s corporate headquarters in Portland. In a conversation he told me that when recently reporting findings from a working group to the new head of North American marketing and sales, the director responded with, “your report doesn’t show any failure models.” The director added, “something’s wrong you need to go back and work on this.” One of the top Global Brands understands the value of failure and the opportunities that it creates new developing knowledge.

I believe the same can be said in education. Lisa Chesser, author of the article The Gift Of Failure: 50 Tips For Teaching Students How To Fail Well, thoughts on failure are clear “Embracing this in education teaches students to learn that mistakes lead to success.” As I got to the end of the article I said to myself, I need to teach my students that it’s okay to fail, that it’s an important part of the learning process. I’m doing this, I thought to myself and then I got to the important note! Lisa goes on to say, “Keep in mind that you may proudly tell yourself that you already do this when you scan over the tips, but there’s a pattern and a nuance to teaching students how to fail.” Wow, I just told myself that and now I’m intrigued. I realize I need to make a shift in my thinking. That it’s not good enough to tell my students in my cooking classes, “it’s okay to fail, just give it a try reflect on how something tastes and make adjustments,” done! I realize that I need to learn the nuances of how to teach students to fail and work this into my program content.

As I read through the list of 50 tips, I found I’m doing some of them quite well. But that there are others that I’m completely unaware of. So I started to highlight a few of the ones that I need to do a better job integrating into my teaching practice. This will allow me to create a learning environment that doesn’t just talk about failure, but also acknowledges, encourages and works with failure, creating resilient students that embrace lifelong learning and risk-taking.

On the list of 50 Tips For Teaching Students How To Fail Well, there were 10 tips (11, 12, 17, 18, 21, 27, 29, 33, 42, 44) that represent strategies that I could add to my repertoire or vocabulary that will help me generate a culture of failure, which will not paralyze the students in my class. Working these tips into my teaching vocabulary will inspire them and play a role in setting them up for success, resilience and innovation.  

Tip number 29, teach them to visualize. This is one tip that really sticks out for me because I realize it’s a question I haven’t answered very well in the past. My students often ask me questions about cooking that are challenging and I have had difficulty answering them because I hadn’t realized until now that they could be answered through visualizing. Teaching them to visualize helps them see a recipe, meal, or menu through from start to finish. Visualizing is a common challenge a lot of my students have, that I have been struggling to understand and interpret. Teaching them to visualize is also a great way to get them to think about their thinking. Why am I doing this? How can I solve this problem? How can I move forward and complete the task?

I found this to be a great article, one that I’ve bookmark and we’ll go back to again and again and one I highly recommend.



Chesser, L. (2013). The Gift of Failure: 50 Tips for Teaching Students How to Fail Well – InformED.

      Retrieved April 22, 2016, from http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/the-gift-of-failure-50-tips-for-teaching-students-how-to-fail/


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Critical Thinking Skills & Insights On How to Teach Them


Here are some reflections on an article titled, Insights From Research on How Best to Teach Critical Thinking Skills. I’ve participated in, helped and taught numerous cooking classes and a common theme for all of them is that recipes are handed out, students are expected to follow the recipes, create a product, go home and repeat.  

My thirst for knowledge and understanding has taken me to the PIDP program so that I can take my teaching practice to a whole new level. What I’m learning through this, is that I need to develop and create programs that move past the traditional lecture demo, follow recipe model. I would like to create space where I can teach critical thinking to my students about the food they’re cooking, where they are sourcing their food, understanding the nutritional value of their food. This way, they themselves can move past or into a space where they think about why they’re doing things, how they’re doing things and what they can do better as  opposed to paying for a course, receiving a recipe and going home. They could do that for free with a Google search and a quick trip to the store.

I can see that to teach critical thinking skills, I need to change the way I deliver my lesson plans. As well, I need to develop new classes with higher levels of difficulty so that I don’t try and fit all of Bloom’s Taxonomy into one class. I need to be more aware and respectful of the students’ level of understanding. I need to talk about and elaborate on goals for the class. I would like to create a space where we talk about why we are doing something and how we are doing it. It means that I also need to encourage my students to explain to me what success means to them in the kitchen and how they will reach their goals, as well as talk about what factors present roadblocks for them and how they plan to move past them.




Chesser, L. (2013). The Gift of Failure: 50 Tips for Teaching Students How to Fail Well –

    InformED. Retrieved April 22, 2016, from http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/the-gift-of-failure-50-tips-for-teaching-students-how-to-fail/


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Thinking About Thinking


Anyone ever talk to themselves? I do! It’s not crazy. It’s a great metacognitive skill, especially when it comes to the culinary arts. When you create a dish you need to rely on your past knowledge, while thinking about creating new knowledge to come up with new combinations, new flavours, new tastes and presentations.

But the whole idea of thinking about thinking can get a little confusing and I find my own thought process started to spin in circles as I tried to understand what Metacognition means to me and how I can apply it to my teaching practice. What helped me was reading an article that listed some Metacognitive activities and the Ah-ha moment hit me.

I teach community classes. Entertainment is one of the factors why people come to my classes. At least that’s part of my perception. Because of that, I, the chef takes the stage each class and the focus is on me and not the students learning.

If I want students to truly start thinking about their thinking, I need to start asking and not telling, creating opportunities for students to express themselves. I need to let them reflect on their work as opposed to me judging it and create more meaningful context for their learning.

I’m excited about putting this into practice in my next class which I know will be a challenge for me because it means changing my own behaviour and letting go of the show I like to be the star of.

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