It's not scientific, but after "testing" my hypothesis, I can confidently say that there is a measurable difference in student interest and attention when cooking is integrated into lessons.
A few weeks ago, I planned two consecutive days of lessons that included preparing food.
On the first day, I asked for two student volunteers and they became the chefs for the lesson. Their task was to follow their classmates' verbal instructions in Spanish on how to cook eggs.
The materials that I brought to school were: two heating units, 4-6 eggs per class, salt, pepper, spatulas, mixing bowls, utensils, paper plates, Pam vegetable spray, aprons, and chef's hats.
The students gave them step by step instructions and the "chefs" followed their instructions and then the chefs decided to whom the eggs were given.
The following day, I distributed a paper to the students in which they had to work with a partner to write instructions on how to make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. (All students wrote the instructions and they decided which one to hand in - usually the one with the best handwriting.) Different students took turns reading the instructions to me and I followed the instructions e-x-a-c-t-l-y.
I've been doing this lesson for years and it is a guaranteed fun activity to do in the target language. When I instruct the students to be specific when writing the instructions and not to forget any steps, many of them don't understand the degree of "specific". If they wrote "put the peanut butter on the bread", but their instructions don't include to use a knife to take the peanut butter OUT of the jar, I simply put the jar of peanut butter on the bread. Am I being difficult? Yes, but that results in increased interest on the students' part to listen to the instructions and realize what will happen when I follow the instructions exactly as written, AND when I have their complete attention, I am able to provide more repetitions of comprehensible input of commands, in context!
This semester, the student interest in the PBJ activity was kicked up a few notches due to James Crummel's visit to our class. James, an anchorman and reporter, and Justin Raub, a photo journalist, from ABC 27 News, came to our classroom to film the activity and to interview the students about Spanish class.
Click HERE to see the news segment which aired 3x on the morning news yesterday if the embedded movie below does not work. The students did an awesome job and had fun watching the video in class.
Of course, after class, we took time to take a selfie with James and Justin. A special thanks to the talented selfie photographer, Jazmyn!
As teachers, our first responsibility is to provide our students with the best instruction that we know. Another responsibility, in my opinion, is to share what we are doing with the parents and people in our community to show them the great things happening in the public and private schools!!!!