By Darren Lum
Published April 24 2018
Expect the sweet and aromatic smell of cookies with that je ne sais quoi come the first week of May as local elementary school students in Haliburton will be immersed in French culture.
Chef à l’École has been invited by Stuart Baker Elementary School and J. Douglas Hodgson Elementary School to inspire and educate students from April 30 to May 4.
The educational cooking program taught all in French offers a hands-on experience for students from Grade 1 to 8 in French immersion and for those taking core French who will not only learn how to cook the French cookies Langues de Chat (Cat Tongues) but will do it while learning about French culture and developing their French comprehension and speaking.
With funding from the participating schools and TLDSB which granted the joint-school application through funding for French Student Opportunities via the Ministry of Education the offering starts on the first day with the SBES Grade 1 to 3 students and then continues the rest of the week with JDHES students. Sessions will be from 75 to 100 minutes. There is a plan to have more volunteers per student for the younger students.
Senior kindergarten and Grade 1 SBES teacher Stephanie Ward took the lead in bringing this event to the Highlands and wanted a French experience for Haliburton students. Without much available locally she thought of arranging a trip to travel outside the county. Rather than incurring the expense of travelling bringing someone into Haliburton made the most financial sense. She got the idea from her co-organizer and JDHES teacher Ceri Jenkins who had experience with the Chef à l’École while working in another school board.
Expectations will vary by French language capability determined by grade level Ward said.
“I think for the younger students [from Grade 1 to 3] to have a sense of confidence that they are able to use words they know in French to communicate and apply them to context. We want the middle age [Grade 4 to 6] students to have a great time and just know that French isn’t just academic and a school thing as it opens doors and it allows you to have other experiences and enjoy yourself in other ways. For the older students [Grade 7 and 8] I think that it’s good for them to see where other ways a second language can be used” she said.
Although all of the sessions will be in French regardless of the students’ age or comprehension level there will be visual aids and actions to help convey the meaning of words.
There was a concerted effort she said to provide students with an engaging experience.
“We wanted it to be an experience that they could participate in. We didn’t look for something that they watched because they had those experiences more recently” she said referring to spectator French events.
Chef à l’École has already sent both schools a package of support materials to help prepare students for the chef’s arrival. It includes suggested vocabulary such as action words ingredients and tools used in the kitchen.
Along with a JDHES core French student her class has already produced skits using vocabulary related to cooking and the kitchen.
The skit involves a mock French interaction between a student of hers and the older JDHES student while making cookies.
Ward is looking forward to seeing how it all comes together.
“We’re excited. I can’t wait to see what it’s like” she said.