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Bon appétit! French teacher takes unique approach to online learning

Grade 2 French immersion teacher Stacey Bock turned to cooking after looking for creative ways to keep her students engaged

A local French teacher has become a bit of a YouTube celebrity among her students in the past year.

After teachers and students across the province were forced to take their learning online last spring, Stacey Bock, a Grade 2 French immersion teacher at Forest Hill Public School in Midhurst, started looking for creative ways to keep her students engaged.

“We had been online for a while and I wanted to find something more, something fun, to engage them and that I wouldn’t be able to do in class,” Bock tells BarrieToday.

The Barrie resident ultimately came up with the idea of doing a live cooking class with her students.

That first class, she admits, didn’t exactly go as planned.

“We were all excited. We were going to do grilled cheese  it was going to be amazing. I brought my computer into my kitchen… and a whole bunch of them were all in their kitchen,” she says. “Then, after a while, I was wondering why nobody was saying anything.”

Bock quickly realized her computer had lost its internet connection and students had lost their live feed.

“Apparently my kitchen is some kind of wifi dead zone and I didn’t know and I just kept losing connectivity. I’d hurry up and get back on and they were having a dance party. … They thought it was the best thing ever,” she says, adding one of her students had even busted out a speaker for music. 

Bock realized if she wanted to continue with her newest endeavour, she needed to find a better way. She soon began pre-recording the cooking classes. 

“I decided to edit it and make it look a little snazzier. Then, the following Friday, they were all in their kitchen and I would just play and pause. I didn’t want to have to go through that again," she says. 

Each week, Bock would come up with a new cooking class to share with her class. Those videos are now posted on her own YouTube channel

“I would think, what could we do that was not too difficult ingredient wise and that kids could actually do, or help with, in the kitchen?"

Creating the videos was a lot of fun, but Bock admits she had to first become comfortable with the idea of making mistakes.

“Even when I am flipping the grilled cheese and it falls apart, I’d giggle. … (Mistakes) happen,” she says. “It was to keep it interesting for them, but it’s also to keep it interesting for me. It’s something different to do, and it’s very important to show them you can have French incorporated outside of the classroom.”

The online cooking classes ranged from quesadillas and tacos to grilled cheese and even an ice cream cake, but Bock admits keeping it simple in the kitchen wasn’t just for the kids.

“I am not a cook. I am very bad in the kitchen. My husband is the chef in our house and I assist. He thought out of all things (I) chose to do (I) chose cooking? He thought it was the funniest thing ever,” she says. “I’m doing things that Grade 2 (students) can do so I should be able to handle that!”

Since starting the YouTube channel last year for her own class, Bock has added more videos including art lessons as well as worksheets, all of which she said is available for other teachers who may be in need of quick resources or lessons to use. 

“I am trying to give them something that is just print and play. I have stuff that teachers can buy, but I also have the free stuff they can grab for free," she says. 

While Bock prefers to see her students face-to-face, should schools be forced back online, she told BarrieToday she will definitely return to create more cooking videos. 

“I was thinking what could we make next. … I guess Kraft Dinner! I even have an apron now with my logo… but I think my kitchen ones I am going to run out of ideas. If I can find more simple recipes I will, but more likely would be art that kids can do because that is definitely more my forte.”