December

December is coming up. It’s a short month but at times it may go on forever. One of the reasons for this is that it is the annual fruit sale distribution. Fruit comes in one day and hopefully before all the students leave for the long break all of it is gone. It is an easier task to do when the walk-in cooler is working. Students sell the fruit for about a month starting in October. All orders are turned in before the Thanksgiving break. It’s a good fundraiser for the group.

On the day of fruit arrival all students pitch in and examine the fruit. It’s a great mini lesson on how fruit ripens and how to tell if a fruit is ripe. Having double doors on most of my spaces allows the fruit sorting to go smoothly. When all the fruit has passed inspection the students take their order sheets and start separating the orders into piles.

What can put a fruit sale off track is having all of the products come in on time. Our sale includes six different vendors, two local cheese makers, two local butchers, fruit supplier, and nut supplier. Sorting fruit and organizing fruit may take a few days. So if all product arrives by Wednesday of delivery week things still seem to flow good. The worst is when fruit shows up on a Thursday and the nut delivery shows up on the following Monday. On top of that half of the nut order is on back order.

Other December activities are decorating a tree for a community display and perhaps a sledding party or two. It is also the month to get students signed up and start practicing for the spring competitions. It’s the end of the storming time of the officer team formation and just in time for the norming stage as practices begin.

Tart

Tart is the flavor that cranberries bring to the table over thanksgiving. Much thanks can go to the great state of Wisconsin for producing so many of these tart berries. This year I am going to be having students design food products for my food products and processing systems class. In an attempt to theme the product design I want to feature Wisconsin products. Cranberries might just fit the bill. Students can use cranberries in many products from ice cream to summer sausage. My students can choose from an array of products from throughout the semester. As of now these are the products that can be modified for them to re-formulate to include a specific ingredient; summer sausage, snack sticks, cheese, and yogurt.

This unit will take the last 2 weeks of the semester. The first 3 days will be planning, creating labels, and nutirtion facts. The last 2 days of the semester, students will be giving samples of their product to their peers and impartial judges. Students will have to report on how the product was formulated and will be marketed.

 

Tart

Food Products and Processing Triangle Test

This year I have decided that my food products and processing class final will be developing a new product. To better connect this project with FFA and the industry I plan to introduce the project with a Triangle Test. A Triangle Test is what food scientists use to test the difference between two different products. Two famous internetainers conduct this kind of test often. The comedic duo Rhett and Link have done the Wal-Mart and Costco challenges on their show Good Mythical Morning along with other exotic food tests.

So to introduce a food tasting lab and to bring in a bit of humor and a basis for discussion I plan to play a Good Mythical Morning video for students and discuss how taste of the foods were described on the show. If needed for a prompt to students to use vocabulary words, Jimmy Fallon’s Word Sneak game could also be employed. When describing foods to one another or answering a question students must sneak words into their explanations.

The resource link for this post and also a lab on the Taste Triangle:

http://www.ift.org/~/media/Knowledge%20Center/Learn%20Food%20Science/Food%20Science%20Activity%20Guide/activity_trianglesensory.pdf

 

Classroom Routine

Inspired by a House Cleaning Routine Post on artofmanliness.com. I thought it would be a good idea to write out a weekly classroom cleaning/organizing routine.

Morning

Read over lessons for the day.

Review daily objectives on the white board

Open attendance/grade book system

Ready graded papers to hand back to students

Review and add any items to teacher’s daily log

Evening

Take pictures of any notes needed on the board

Erase white boards if not a task done by custodial staff

Review attendance for the day (set aside extra copies of work in a folder for missing students)

Enter grades and file them for handing back next day

Review teacher’s daily log and forward any tasks needed to the next day

Clear desk

 

Weekly

Monday: Storage Room, review inventory, check that it is locked

Tuesday: Greenhouse, water plants, check for leaks in watering system, look at any error codes, throw out dead plants

Wednesday: Meats Lab and classroom refrigerators, throw out any expired food, wash towels and aprons

Thursday: Ag Shop, check safety equipment

Friday: Office and Classroom, finalize grading on project work and retakes, set up materials for following week

Irksome

An Irksome post is a great opening to discuss annoying things. I will avoid talking about school based items to address something that is apathetic to just about everything, cats. Cats are irksome. Here are a few words about my cat. My cat is named Cat. Cat is mostly white. I brought cat home from the humane society when she was about 9 months old. In the beginning Cat would do just about anything to avoid contact with people. I would give her many boxes and toys to play with in a room that was deemed the cat room. The cat room was created so that Cat would acclimate gradually to her new home. She still enjoys the room to this day and expects to play with string if I am in there. Cat has developed some irksome behaviors over time. The first is shedding. Since Cat is mostly white her fur shows up just about everywhere. Constant brushing isn’t enough to keep her hair at bay. She is a short-haired cat but enjoys and insists on shedding most of the day. The second irksome behavior is lap sitting. Sometimes Cat can be cuddly and sit on laps without any problem. Most of the time Cat attempts to sit on a lap that is busy with a computer, book, or phone. This causes some inconvenience for the person and a cold Cat. Another irksome behavior is Cat’s tendency to run around wildly for no seemingly good reason. At times this activity is humorous to watch, like Cat is putting on a show of all the things she can do. One of which is running into walls. However the humor is lost after paperwork is run through or the noise of a cat bolting up the stairs becomes way to repetitive. On a positive note to end this post. Cat never chews through cables, does not scratch furniture, purrs really well, and will chase a string if you want to play. Cat is soft and is easy to take care of. She catches mice if any would dare step into the house and she also rarely throws up. My cat is cool. Her name is Cat.
Irksome

 

Smoke

A fantastic prompt for an Ag teacher. Over the past few weeks I have used smoke in my foods class for the last few weeks and plan to use it for a few weeks more (weather permitting). The first lesson that students learned off hand is pairing the wood chips with the product that is being smoked. The class has smoked eggs, snack sticks, and summer sausage. I have three varieties of wood chips on hand cherry, apple, and mesquite. The mesquite was used on the eggs and the students have never wanted to try it again. Cherry has been used in the other two projects resulting in some pretty good product. Before the smoke I let my class vote on what kind of chips they want to use. For more information I found this resource while searching pinterest https://www.fix.com/blog/smoke-woods-for-grilling/

Next week I am going to be making jerky with the students. In this lab I want to discuss a few things. First I want to teach them how salt preserves meat. Second, I want to teach students how to keep meat preserved by drying the meat. Lastly, I want to teach students the difference between the quality of jerky cut with the grain of the muscle fibers and against the grains of the muscle fibers. Students will start the lab by selecting 2 chicken breasts and weighing each of them. At this point the chicken breasts will be slightly frozen for easy slicing. Students will take one breast and cut it with the grain of the muscle and the other against the grain. Since the long grain pieces will be twice as long as the other pieces students will have to cut the longer strips in half. I chose chicken because it is a cheaper meat and easy to see the grain throughout. An extension of this lab would be a ground meat jerky. Chicken would be ground and then formed into strips using a jerky gun or sausage stuffer. Using quart sized bags the different cuts of chicken can stay separate while marinating. Pinterest is full of recipes. I use HI-Mountain seasoning kit found in the stores. After curing overnight students need to re-weigh their meat before cooking it. Using a smoker or oven cook the chicken jerky to 165 degrees. The USDA recommends that jerky be cooked before it is dried to kill pathogens before drying. Drying preserves the meat because of the low available water in the meat. Drying the meat in a smoker gives the meat a different flavor and is a good starting point for a discussion of aerobic and anaerobic bacterial growth. After each step of cooking and drying students should weigh their meats. Seal the meats in air-tight containers such as glass jars. When tasting the jerky students need to record the differences between the trials of cuts. Students should graph the water loss of the meat, determine which way of cutting the meat is more desirable, measure how the meat tears, and describe how the meat was kept safe throughout the production of the jerky. As an inquiry lesson students should develop their own methods of testing which cutting method is better.

I think I will use Apple Smoke with this lab.

 

Bus Ride Professional Development

Does this situation ring any bells? Enclosed in a small space for hours with colleagues, eating a quick lunch between meeting with industry professionals, and talking about the progress of classes. Some may call it a curriculum meeting, others call it an advisory meeting, and the new educational lingo may call it PLC. I call it National FFA Convention Bus Ride.

I’m sure I will never get any professional development credits for a journey that I can take a nap on a whim. However, there is a great opportunity to be reflective with other teachers while traveling. It’s never a forced conversation it’s just what’s talked about. It helps that some students migrate up to the teacher section and ask a few questions about a test or some grading sparks some conversation.

The timing of this professional development course is perfect. Most of the teachers on the bus have been through a first round of parent teacher conferences, homecoming, and have established their SLO goals. It’s a good time of year to break down what has happened with other teachers in the same content area. Great to exchange new horror stories and happy stories. In the end, I think I will make a certificate of completion of over 20 hours on a bus ride for this “professional development”.