This week’s strategy comes from Meopham School’s Modern Foreign Languages department. The ‘Star Cake’ is a strategy used to encourage students to build the most complex sentences possible and could also be used to revising word classes both in MFL and in subjects like English and Literacy.
The lesson begins by asking students to identify the two essential parts of a sentence. These are your two beginning ingredients. Some sarcastic comments from Heston Blumenthal bring a little humour to something universally hated by all students: grammar.
The lesson progresses to add more and more information to the sentence. Not only are students challenging themselves at every stage, but expectations are so clear that no student is able to be lazy with their work! The ‘recipe’ for success is easily sped up or slowed down for differentiation purposes.
The lesson is intended to guide students to the A*/9 at GCSE but this could be easily changed for students in KS3 as well.
In addition, the lesson could be used for descriptive writing, writing to argue and probably countless other ideas. There must be a way to talk about cake in Science and Geography, for example.
Perhaps this is another way of framing building blocks for an argument in History. The format is the effective element of this lesson as it makes adding detail to your work far more interesting and engaging.
Perhaps there is a way to build Blooms Taxonomy in to your cake, if this is the method your school prefers for building difficulty and questioning.
If nothing else, if your Year 11 are on the point of burning out and need a little light heartedness bought to their revision, perhaps you could swap Heston for someone more topical like Paul Hollywood (especially near Bake Off season!).
Of course this lesson can then lend itself to a whole range of independent activities with the new ‘recipe’ idea in mind. You could use highlighters/colours/etc to demonstrate the different word classes and requirements that have been met. This could be an encouraged revision method for students too, if you so desired.
What this strategy demonstrates is the entertaining and slightly silly lessons aren’y just reserved for KS3. It’s important for even our most pressured students to be able to engage with revision and learning in a positive and fun way. Often Year 11 season becomes a stressful time for all and if you can’t let them eat actual cake then this might have to do!