Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sums and sentences - learning practical maths

Yesterday evening, attended the session on practical maths for hospitality presented by Cheryl Stokes (bar skills tutor) and Neil McInnes (chef tutor). The sessions focused on strategies used by food and hospitality tutors to embed numeracy in practical work based teaching sessions.

In cookery maths concepts include weight, volume, length, fractions, cost/ price, addition and subtraction. In
cocktail making cost/ price, ratios, volume, fractions, addition and subtraction are required.

Previously maths was mostly simulated learning in theory sessions and there was a separation of theory and practical. For students maths anxiety was high.

In cooking,  maths sessions now completed in 3 hour practical classroom. Students are in chefs uniforms using normal kitchen equipment and real ingredients to work through maths concepts which are integrated into practical session workbooks. Icons or a logo (calculator by ingredients) identify the maths sections in handouts and workbooks and signal calculations are required. Activities include using real life examples like how to share customers tips between staff  - requiring the accurate calculation of percentages.

In cocktail making, there is the need to follow a base formula, add ingredients together and create a visual pie chart of the ratios of each component in the cocktail. Cocktail equation of spirit base plus modifier liqueur plus accents in the form of fruits, herbs food ingredients. Constructivist learning experience as students learn by trying, obtaining feedback, correcting mistakes.

Overall, good examples of how 'mundane maths' is used to provide examples of maths strategies for students and the move towards making greater use of situated learning to embed numeracy into pre-trade trainining.

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