There are lots of tips for writing exam answers or just writing in general. One of my favourites is using the 5 W’s and How.
I used it today as a starter exercise in a food lesson.
The aim of this starter was to show pupils the importance of presenting an appealing photograph in their coursework but also to teach them some tips for writing evaluations and for understanding how dishes are not only marked on appearance but on the skills and cooking methods used .
I decided to use pictures of ‘burgers’ as this is a popular food with teenagers. The pupils were asked to work independently and in silence. They were instructed to look at the four pictures of the burgers and choose which one they would order in a restaurant. They were then asked to answer questions based on the 5 W’s :
Which burger would you choose?
Why would you choose this burger?
Where would you purchase it?
When would you eat it?
Who do you think would order this burger?
To complete the starter they were also asked to write down how the burger was made?
I also asked the pupils to imagine that they were an exam moderator and that they had to give each burger a grade from an A to D. The point of this exercise was to help the pupils to self access their own products not only on how it looks but also to think about the skills and cooking methods used to prepare that dish.
Using a randomiser, I asked pupils to share their answers. They varied. Most pupils preferred burger number 2, saying that it looked healthier because it had grilled marks on it and lots of fruit and vegetables and that the meat looked like high quality meat and would perhaps be eaten by middle class people or people who were willing to pay a higher price for a burger.
The least favourite burger was number 3. This is a picture my friend Dan sent to me when I said I needed some pictures of burgers for a food lesson. He was very proud of his masterpiece and I did find myself becoming a little defensive of his burger. Some pupils called it ‘sloppy’, ‘unbalanced’ and one in particular wondered how you could eat it without the” beans falling out”. Admittedly, she had a point. They were surprised when I listed the skills involved in making this burger from scratch.The bread bun alone included kneading,shaping, proving, glazing and baking and required an understanding of the technical term fermentation.The egg and sausage was fried, the bacon grilled and the beans heated in the microwave. I also explained how Dan had used British products and that his homemade burger would cost a fraction of a similar burger in a restaurant. The pupils graded it at a C or a D but they admitted to basing their grades on the final appearance of the burger.In reality, the product would have received a higher mark and even higher if a little care was taken with the presentation.
So the point of the starter was to encourage pupils to think in advance of how they would plate up their dishes to make them more appealing but also to help them understand that marks are awarded for the process, skills and cooking methods used. So even if the final product doesn’t look like a product from a French patisserie shop, you can still obtain marks for your hard work.
Pupils often beat themselves up if their final product does not look ‘perfect’ and many times I have to reassure them that they have done their best and that the taste and flavours are just as important as the appearance.We all make judgments with our eyes and people often eat with their eyes but some times we fail to see what efforts and skills went in to creating a dish.