COOKING ON ZOOM: how a typical lab day in a remote learning culinary class would look. (Photo by: Evie Ellstrom)
COOKING ON ZOOM: how a typical lab day in a remote learning culinary class would look.

Photo by: Evie Ellstrom

Overcoming Online: CTE Department prepares students for future careers from home

September 16, 2020

“As a department as a whole we’ve been using a lot of technology, to make this [remote learning] as interactive as possible” CTE Department Chair Melissa Damewood said. 

The CTE department focuses on teaching students skills that help them in a future career, and because these lessons are typically more hands-on activities, teachers and staff have been trying to recreate these lessons at home.

“Your best and most wonderful youtube tutorials, but with a live person,” Damewood said. “Did you want to learn how to cook, well think of all the times that people will go online to watch someone famous do a recipe well now they don’t have to have a famous person, they can have their very own personal teacher.”

While the new culinary room at school is being built, teachers have been adjusting to teaching kids basic kitchen skills and safety when they’re not in the same kitchen. Culinary teacher Christy Tajak has been spending her off periods recording cooking lessons to show during her class time.

“I have been busy videotaping myself doing the labs before class, so we don’t waste that 80 minute time doing a tutorial,” Tajak said. “We will show them a demo of one of us [the culinary teachers] making that lab.”

They have been reaching out to parents of students who are taking culinary to partner with the teachers in helping the students learn. Since, usually, the students cook for their teachers at school the parents have had to play that role in class.

“I can see their finished product, but we are hoping to have a family member taste their final product,” Tajak said. “And they can do a reflection, and they can let me know how their student did, and that can be a part of the grading system.”

Senior Evie Ellstrom is taking Introduction to Culinary this semester and it’s not what she expected when she signed up for a culinary class. They have not yet cooked in class, for the first few weeks of school they have been reviewing safety and sanitation. “Just a lot of Edpuzzles, it’s been really easy,” Ellstrom said.

They are set to start their first cooking lab on Friday, Sept. 18. If they were in class they would be cooking in small groups but they will have to move to breakout rooms to cook with their classmates live on Zoom, because of remote learning.

“They will put us into breakout rooms so if we have any questions she’ll come to our group, and we’ll be with other people,” Ellstrom said. “We’ll be taking pictures of each one of our steps and then submit those pictures.”

Senior Jared Imperial is taking his third culinary course, Baking and Pastries, and transitioning from cooking in the culinary room to cooking at home in his own kitchen has been a big change. “Definitely a different experience than if you were in the culinary room,” Imperial said.

When cooking at school in the culinary room all the equipment and ingredients are provided for you, but some students don’t have access to all the equipment to complete the assigned labs at home.

“I don’t have a lot of the tools that are used in many of the recipes, because baking is more of a science and much more precision and technique is needed,” Imperial said. “I’m excited to get back to school soon, especially with the new culinary room, but for now I have to manage cooking in a smaller kitchen with fewer tools at home.”

Engineering and Graphic Design teacher Matthew Dillard teaches courses that have building activities with a small group of students, or computer programs so that students can design things from bridges to animate characters. Even though students are not currently at school they are still doing what they can to continue with the class as normal.

“Not being in class, we needed to get the kids some kits, that we’ll send to them, so they’ll be able to build some things from home,” Dillard said. “There’s a website called Cameyo that we are using as a district, that allows us to operate the programs remotely, students can’t have it on their computer but through the website, they use a different computer using their keyboard and mouse, and they are able to save those files to their Google Drive.

Senior Katelynn Ohk is a student in a Principles of Engineering class, where that class usually consists of building simple machines using Vex kits.

“It’s hard to be in a STEM class when you can’t see someone physically do the work, and you have to figure it all out,” Ohk said. “I wish the teacher could build with the Vex kits on zoom and show me what they’re doing so that I don’t have to stare at a screen wondering what they’re doing.”

The CTE Department launched an Internship Program, but this semester it has had a couple of obstacles because of companies having their employees working from home, and employees being laid off. But they are doing what they can to reach out to companies and give students a chance to have an internship.

“Every student who came to us and told us over the summer what their interests were, and we placed them [in an internship] accordingly,” said Damewood. “We definitely had a hiccup because of COVID, but our local community has been phenomenally receptive, any place that could legally take a student for an internship, has.”

“We are not letting COVID stop our kids from learning and growing,” Damewood said.

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