My Pinterest Board Works!!!

I am really so happy to share that the board I created for my Plated Desserts class works!!! I think it is awesome that my students are pinning their work on this board and it is free for all of them to see what they are all doing. It’s a very busy kitchen with 18 students focused on presenting their creations for their menu design for their “restaurant”. They choose the theme of the restaurant, place, location and craft a dessert menu suited for their theme. This is their opportunity to experiment, go on an adventure and I say “play” and let their minds and hands work together to build the flavors and bring it to life on each plate. So, they don’t have the chance to really look at each other’s work and this is where they can take the time and learn from each other’s work. In just 2 days, they have pinned 37 plated desserts!!! Amazing source of ideas! I put my comments and  realized that by doing this, I also gave myself the chance to see their work from a different perspective.  The last 2 days, I believe, I was able to spend more time with each student and I was able to generate more discussions after looking at their pinned works. I value those moments that I created with my students.

Please have a look at this link but get ready to crave and want something from this menu.

http://www.pinterest.com/gonzalezkt/vcc-april-pm-plated-desserts/

I believe this culminates my PIDP 3240 course. I learned so many new things regarding use and impact of technology in teaching. The course is ending for me, but, it is truly just the beginning. I can’t wait to apply what I have learned in this course in my coming classes. I see the value and impact of social media in the classroom and used properly, it can really be a good thing. Technology… got to take the good with the bad, create a balance, use it wisely, create those valuable moments of learning and share experiences with the students following the principles of Dr. Jose Bowen’s, “Teaching Naked” will surely enhance teaching in this “Google Generation”.

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Using Pinterest… More thoughts to share with my PIDP 3240

I think, I still have a few more thoughts and things to share with PIDP 3240. I thought my “Last Thoughts.. ” blog  would be my last blog. But, no, it is not. It just goes to show that learning and sharing doesn’t end even if the class is about to end. So, I’ll take this last few days as an opportunity to share a bit more.

I am really enjoying the Pinterest board I created for my Plated Desserts Class this week. I just started it today and they have all accepted my invitation very quickly and I have 9 pins already from them today. Amazing what this web 2.0 tool can do! I posted my comments and encouraging them to do so and learn from each other’s work and comment on each other. This is great for this purpose and its a free discussion board for the class. I have given my feedback on their work in class but realized that I missed certain points and I was able to do that on this board. I reserve the more constructive feedback for improvement face to face and I put the positive comments I was not able to address on the board. I just feel that posting it on their “pinned” work would be a nice boost for them. I totally believe in encouragement at this point in their learning because I believe in growth as they progress in their pastry careers.

So, here’s a link to their Plated Desserts Board:

http://www.pinterest.com/gonzalezkt/plated-desserts/

I realized that it is such a wonderful feeling to see all their work “pinned”.

I am a very happy and proud  teacher of my students’ works.

Also, another realization on my part is that I don’t need to take pictures of all their work now for grading because I make them own this activity by pinning it themselves, promoting responsibility and ownership of their work. For everyone in the class, including me, we save  storage space  on our phones because this is a place where we can just log in and see everyone’s work in one place.

I am sharing it with the other instructors , too. I am grateful for PIDP 3240 because this course pushed me to do something I normally wouldn’t do because I am afraid of using technology because of my own fears or mental blocks about using technology.

This is just the beginning now and certainly not the end of my journey.

My Last thoughts about PIDP3240 but more blogs to come

It’s been a whirlwind of research, reading, posting, tweeting, pinning, blogging and writing for me the last 7 weeks. I am no writer, so, all these writing have been a very big effort for me to do. Sitting in front of the computer is not my favorite thing as I would rather do something in the kitchen with my son. However, it has all been worth every single moment of it. I learned so much in this course! It’s such a self-directed learning course and I am glad I have some self-discipline to do this. Thanks to my very rigid study habits established in my younger years. That is probably why it was my dream to teach way back when I was in pastry school.  Sometimes, I still cannot believe that I am teaching. I have truly enjoyed learning all that I have in PIDP 3240 because I think I have conquered some of my fears in technology and being in social media. I wish there was a part two, so, I could learn the digital media which I have not explored much at all. This is the next step for me. I have to do it on my own now.

In this course, I realized so many things about the impact of technology in the classroom or better yet, taken out of the classroom and saving those precious times for more meaningful discussions promoting critical thinking skills which our students need to learn for the sake of their future lives. Of course, I still believe there is no black or white, grey is sometimes good, just like a hybrid. Basically , what is most important is what we take from this course and how we can slowly make the adjustments in our daily teaching life. Curriculum development is an iterative process ( from my PIDP 3210 instructor, Roselynn Verwoord) and so is teaching. Some strategy may work in one group one day and not on the other. So, it is a constant change and adapting to different situations and so should our teaching styles.  It can’t be just one way and not the other. In this fast changing world,  I think learning to adapt is so very important.

Anyways, what do I do now? I take all that I have learned now and continue on this journey of learning to be an instructor. Hoping that I will make a difference one day now matter how small it is. I will keep on learning and upgrading my skills and most importantly sharing it to the learning community and inspiring young bakers, cooks, decorators, etc in this pastry and baking and culinary world. I do love learning and sharing and this is what keeps my passion for teaching my favorite thing in the world – baking and pastry making!

Thank you to all my classmates in PIDP 3240 and especially the social media’ers in this course. Thank you for all the great discussions, sharing, and tweeting. It has been an amazing last 7 weeks. I only wish for us to stay connected. Good luck to all everyone’s endeavors. Thanks for introducing us to this course and guiding us, Brian – our PIDP 3240 instructor.

 

My Funny Little Snowman Cake and Realizations in Baking at Home

Olaf Cake

Here’s my interpretation of Olaf, the snowman! It isn’t a Frozen theme party without Olaf.  This is Kenzo’s ( Kimi’s little brother who also celebrated his party with his big sister and this is what he wanted for his cake) favorite cartoon character right now. He’s a sweet little boy who is just as playful as Olaf. So, I naturally had to make this Olaf cake this way… the way Olaf is in the movie… always getting himself detached from his body from all the tumbling and running and falling in the snow. Funny, fluffy and snowy but warm little snowman. All represented in this small cake. I hope you get my analogy with his head and legs separated from his body, marshmallows, earmuffs and scarf and white and blue colors and chocolate arms for twigs. Let your imagination take you back to the playful scenes and heartfelt warmth of Olaf in the movie. Kenzo is just that!

This cake is made with love as I hardly ever make faces because I feel that it is not my strength. However, I am beginning to enjoy making funny cartoon faces. My first were Ninja Turtles made for another special boy, my son’s friend Alexander. I am learning as I go and make these faces. There is always something to learn and discover in the kitchen as I create these specialty cakes which we rarely made in the hotel when I was a pastry cook because labor is too expensive and our time was more devoted to production and more gourmet style cakes. Our design and decorating skills were practiced more by making chocolate showpieces that would be displayed in the lobby for Christmas and other festive occasions. Besides, these theme cakes are probably best not sold by a hotel because of copyright issues. On a side note, my theme cakes are made for friends and family and not made for commercial purposes. So, I am trying my best not to break any copyright laws on this one.

As an instructor in pastry and baking, I am still learning everyday and honing my skills. I keep my skills sharp by making cakes at home for family and friends and I find it a great opportunity to explore and try out things I haven’t done. I mean, it really takes a lifetime to do all that can be done in this exciting world of pastry.

Also, I teach in a community center and I like teaching them more practical skills that they can surely make on their own at home. So, I have been baking and experimenting more at home so I can give my students at the community center more practical advice for baking at home. All these years baking in the hotel kitchen and pastry schools, I can say that baking at home is somehow different from the physical limitations to  equipment and everything in between in an average home. Therefore, I am learning new tricks to share to my home bakers by baking more at home myself.  I always used to think that  I can’t do it because I need a fully equipped hotel kitchen and tools to make something. Now, I am glad to share with home bakers the tricks that I use at home and tricks that I know in the industry setting.

How I made Princess Elsa’s Coronation Night Cake

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4Princess Elsa Cake

I made this very special cake for a very special little girl. We have the same nickname and she is the classmate of my son. From the first day of kindergarten, I was just drawn to Kimi. She was new to the school and her mommy was like any other mom who was sending her first child to a new school. My son has been going to the same school since he was in preschool. So, it was a familiar place to him. So, when her mom kept saying it’s okay Kimi, I couldn’t help but notice because I wondered who is the other Kimi ( since my family calls me Kimmee). So I turned around and saw her. A very sweet little girl. Then, this was the beginning of a wonderful friendship with her mom and the rest of the family.

This is only my second Frozen theme inspired cake. Melissa (Kimi’s Mom) gave me the main color (magenta) she wanted and trusted me with everything else. Honestly, I love making cakes when I have a freehand on the design. It means that I can have a really fun-time making it. I don’t have a little girl and most of my son’s friends are all boys. So, I totally enjoyed making this cake and there was so much inspiration to make it. I wanted it to be magical at the same time grand but not losing its focus on the theme that it is for a sweet little girl. And I wanted that to shine through.

So, let me take you through the process. I posted 5 photos. First, I needed to get the colors right. The pale, icy blue was easy because it was just adding a very tiny amount of blue food coloring and I have made many blue colored cakes of different shades for boy cakes. I needed the perfect blend of pink, red and blue to achieve the Coronation night color, magenta. I matched it with the invitation Melissa herself made. Then, I wanted to see the color contrast. I thought it was a good start. So, I went ahead with airbrushing the icy blue cake with a pearl shimmer to achieve the faint shimmer on the blue to make it look magical and dreamy. The I mixed food airbrush colors to achieve the magenta and airbrushed over the pearly shimmer. Then, there it goes on the blue cake. A contrast of colors! Then, I airbrushed the magenta cake with magenta to give it a sharper finish of elegance. Upon Melissa’s suggestion, I added the white drape over the small cake. I thought it would be a great concept for snow. The rest of the design was just a product of my  playful mind. I wanted it to have the different elements of elegant, magic and dreams at the same time keeping it childlike. So, the airbrushed snowflakes and twisted fondant magenta and white rope helped achieve what I wanted in my final product, as well as, the icy blue dragees and piped white vanilla buttercream and the little Princess Elsa Cake topper.

The cake itself is made of vanilla chiffon with a raspberry buttercream for the bottom tier and the top tier is the all time favorite, chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream. I really wanted the raspberry chiffon cake to reflect the theme of the cake as well. Too bad I don’t have pictures to show.

Lastly, I posted the picture in the fridge because I didn’t measure the height of my fridge and luckily it made it in the fridge after I put the little doll and glued her with buttercream  onto the cake. I just had to take off her crown. But, it all ended well and Melissa and Kimi were very happy.

Learning from my mistakes…..measure the cake’s height. I must have done this so many times but I don’t know why I always take this risk of not measuring tall cakes. Hopefully, this last time will teach me a lesson because it came way too close to not  making it in the fridge without damaging and having to fix it.

Just a small note that the doll I used is an original toddler Princess Elsa toy. So, I don’t think I am breaking any copyright issues here. For myself, this cake is made for non-commercial purposes, anyways. I just had to add this to my blog being aware of Copyright issues after having so much discussion about it.

Learning in PIDP 3240

I am towards the end of my PIDP 3240 journey. It has been a most enriching process of learning for me. I have always been intimidated by technology and this is a course on using technology. So, I had a lot of fears entering this course. Well, now, I have come to realize so many things. One, I am not that intimidated anymore. I am actually able to apply my learning and I am eager to use it on a daily basis and to try to incorporate it more in my daily teaching life. I realize that I can teach myself to do things like create my own Pinterest Account which I did being in this course. It was not a requirement but I just wanted to do it for the sake of my own learning and conquering my fears. Well, I am so happy I did it on my own without help from anyone. There’s still so much to learn and I know I need to organize my board and classify my pins. But, it ‘s a start and I am committed to it now since I put myself out there. I am also starting to use and apply my knowledge on teaching naked from reading our textbook and researching on it. I am actually exploring the use of YouTube in my teaching and sending students links before we discuss topics. I find it most useful because they can watch demos on YouTube and learn the different techniques that I am not able to show them all because of lack of time in the kitchen lab. However, I am able to create more time for them to practice it and I am there as their facilitator to help them out as I go around the kitchen  lab as they practice their skills.

I realize that there is just so much I can use as teaching tools and it is a great opportunity to teach at this day and age where we have so much resources available to us. It is overwhelming! Yes, but I choose to turn it into a positive experience and learning to focus on learning one thing at a time.  When I think of it this way, it becomes an amazing learning experience for me.

Therefore, slowly, I know I am progressing. I really enjoy teaching and I know that to become a more effective teacher I need to equip myself with all these tools. In fact, I believe now, that teaching has never been more exciting, knowing there is so much I can do as a teacher presented with all these resources. It is now a matter of doing it and practicing it.

This has been a great learning journey for me. I know that there is more to come. I also know that when I am stuck, I know what to do. It’s just one or a few clicks away…

.

Teaching French Pastries and Small Cakes Class

photo 4photo 3photo 2

 

These are a few of the products that my class made in their French Pastries and Small Desserts Course. From top to bottom, clockwise: Apple Tarte Tatin, Lemon Meringue Tartlettes, Assorted French Pastries, Petit Four Glace.

I was called to fill-in and teach this class for 5 days. Being an on-call instructor is always a challenge because I always jump-in somewhere in the middle and the students already have established their own system with their regular instructor. So, I am always trying to find a balance not to overstep on anyone’s toes. I usually observe and see what their skill level is at before I step in.  I also have the responsibility of making sure that things get done based on what needs to be accomplished as per their instructor’s instructions. I also work on establishing a rapport with the students to make it a more meaningful experience for me and for them.

For this particular class, I wanted to make it more learner-centered and to apply some “Teaching Naked” methods by Jose Bowen from our PIDP 3240 textbook. It was the first time I conducted a cooperative quiz which I think went well. I realized a few things about the students’ self-assessment, as well. There will always be students who are quite harsh on themselves. They are the typical high achievers. I suppose I knew that was coming. It is also good to know that there are those who know themselves pretty well. I believe, that cooperative quizzes can be beneficial because students are able to practice collaborative learning and to learn how to negotiate with each other.

In the kitchen lab, it was great to see their creativity shine as I gave them tasks and it was up to them to decide how to go about it. I believe recipes are there to be followed and once students are comfortable they can adjust it according to their desired outcomes. Besides, this is one of the goals/outcomes of the course. What I really enjoyed about this class was students who are more advanced were able to experiment on recipes and those that needed more guidance were happy to stick with the original recipes. So, here a lot of discovery and learning happened. I was able to show new techniques to those who were ready to advance and guidance to those who needed more practice.

New products were created like a new version of the chocolate raspberry tart utilizing both dark and milk chocolate for the ganache which originally used only dark chocolate. My student who took on this challenge was very happy with the result of her product and she learned something that was not in the books. I believe that these are the things that will make a difference for them in the future, when they are able to empower themselves by taking that step in taking risks and they know that the school kitchen  lab is that  safe place to do it. Hopefully, in the future this will develop their self-confidence to experiment on their own.

Another group was tasked to make a quarter slab cake which really is not a small cake nor a French pastry.So, how does this work into the curriculum? I was able to show them that when this slab cake is cut smaller, it becomes a small cake and when cut even smaller it can be a French pastry. It was a really fun activity because they learned on many different levels and not just being limited to making small desserts and French pastries. They learned how to assemble a slab cake as it is an entirely different process or preparation and  adjusting recipes to make it work. Then learning the way it is cut can make a difference. So, in the end they made a slab cake, a quarter slab, a small cake and French pastries.  Of course, learning to decorate large cakes and French pastries were practiced, too. For me, I was very happy to be able to teach outside the box and provide this kind of learning.

As the end came to this course, the students moved on to learning sugar from their regular instructor. So, learning tips from Jose Bowen on teaching naked, I sent them links on sugar art a couple days before their sugar class started. I wanted to see the impact of this. Well, I was happy to learn that some students actually watched the video links I sent and got them interested. Their instructor also appreciated that he doesn’t have to start from scratch. For me, it was a learning process ,too. I was very happy to find the videos in YouTube and I wouldn’t  have known it was there if I didn’t look for it. In fact, I found  a link of a YouTube video by Susan Notter, a famous Pastry Chef known for her sugar work who is the wife of the Pastry Chef who is the author of the Sugar Book that the instructor I am filling in for uses. It is great to discover all these resources available in the internet that I can use in teaching. This is something I will definitely adapt in my future classes. There is still so much to learn about teaching naked and in applying all the things I am learning in PIDP 3240. It’s really a continuous learning process for me. I believe, teachers have as much to learn as students in this new age of teaching with technology.

Here is a link , I would like to share:
http://www.teachthought.com/technology/teaching-with-video-9-tips-teaching-youtube/

So cool!!!

I am so new to tweeting and blogging ( even if I’ve had this blog for a while since I started my PIDP courses ) that the coolest thing happened to me.  I got a tweet from the author of my textbook “Teaching Naked” in PIDP 3240, Jose Antonio Bowen! An amazing speaker and educator.  Right now, I realize the power of social media. I feel like a fan who got tweeted by a Hollywood Star.

Seriously, I am very happy I am taking this course because it is really enriching my teaching. I am now starting to think of how I can apply a hybrid education in my classroom. Teaching baking and pastry is actually really quite a hybrid format already because of the different teaching media that we use such as, lectures and  demos we do to show how different baking techniques and procedures are done. However,  I need to move to the next step of incorporating the use of technology outside the classroom. I am planning my next  class and I will surely incorporate some of these new ideas about hybrid education and creating an atmosphere of critical thinking in my classroom moving towards a “naked classroom” (Jose Bowen, 2012.).