Article: Collaboration: a recipe for success at C-C High School

Collaboration: a recipe for success at C-C High School

Group of students decorating cookies

Flour, butter, sugar and… algebra? It’s an unusual recipe for cookies, but a delicious way to learn math. Students in Churchville-Chili High School teacher Nancy McMahon’s ninth-grade algebra classes, along with teacher Margaret Brongo’s Senior High School students contributed to a unique project this holiday season: making cut-out cookies for patrons of the High School’s Coffee Cart.

The Coffee Cart, a learning project Brongo’s Life Skills class began several years ago, has become a successful venture at the high school, where hot beverages and the warm hearts delivering them make Friday mornings special. The project is a chance for students to practice communication and social skills, as well as learn how to use money and technology. They apply soft skills needed for employment, like time management and successful interaction with coworkers, supervisors and customers. This year, students wanted to offer more for the holidays: homemade, hand-decorated cookies.

The two teachers, along with Library Media Specialists Sarah Amorese and Rebecca Leathersich, joined forces to design a multifaceted educational experience for all their students. Brongo’s students began by determining how many cookies they would need and researching cookie recipes. Meanwhile, the ninth-graders drew simple, geometric cookie cutter designs: trees, stars, diamonds and triangles. They then plotted a series of linear equations for each and transferred their designs to computer, using an online graphing calculator. Once they had created the digital instructions, the students’ cookie cutter designs were fed into the library’s 3-D printers and slowly took shape in plastic.

Finally, both classes got together to work out the math for adjusting their recipe to yield the large quantities of cookies they needed to make. Making the dough, rolling it out, using the custom 3-D printed cookie cutters and final baking followed, with everyone contributing. Decorating the cookies was the most fun, of course. Even staff members pitched in, competing to see who could make the most remarkable cookie.

The final count was more than 200 homemade cookies: designed, baked, frosted and distributed with love.

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