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Level 6 and 7 snapshots

Learning programme design

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Home economics snapshots:

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Combined HPE and home economics snapshots

Home economics snapshot 3

Practical work underpins the teaching and learning of home economics


At a recent HETTANZ meeting, local home economics teachers shared a concern that the new curriculum had resulted in a shift in teaching practice from a predominantly practical-based focus to a theory-based focus. This had resulted in a decline in student interest and a challenge for teachers to address the diverse learning needs of their students, particularly those with limited literacy skills. We decided to form a working group to put the practical work back into our teaching programmes. 

Focusing inquiry

We started with a general discussion around effective teaching, having investigated the Teaching and Learning Guidelines.

  • Are our present programmes still meeting the learning needs of our students?
  • Are we catering for all types of learners?
  • Are we providing a supportive learning environment?
  • Are we providing sufficient opportunities to learn?
  • Are we gathering and using student voice to inform programme planning? 

We were confident that well planned, practical work would provide our students with opportunities to engage in shared activities, to think creatively, to gain confidence in a supportive, inclusive environment, and their learning would be enhanced. The next challenge was to design our teaching programme around these practical experiences (rather than trying to fit the practical work into the prescribed programme).

We discussed the following:

  • How is practical work relevant to senior students?
  • What learning needs are met by students doing practical work?
  • Is practical work just cooking or can it provide other relevant opportunities for learning?

Having established that practical work underpins the learning in home economics, we then put our ideas into practice by planning our teaching unit around the practical experiences both our students and we had identified as valuable.

Our context was sustainability.

Achievement objectives that could be used as a basis to develop learning intentions

Level 7 C2 and D4:

  • Analyse how the well-being of New Zealand society is challenged by our current food environment.
  • Analyse the beliefs about, and attitudes towards, food and nutrition of different groups in New Zealand. Groups could be based on age, ethnicity, sporting pursuits, or socio-economic status.
  • Plan, prepare, and serve meals that demonstrate knowledge and understanding of nutritionally sound food choices for groups in New Zealand.
  • Use locally sourced, seasonal foods to evaluate sustainable food-related practices and justify using these foods, for example, by considering the impact of using them on the well-being of the community and the environment. Apply this knowledge to meal planning and food provision, including preservation. 

Possible assessment links to achievement standards

  • AS91302 2.4: Evaluate sustainable food related practices. 

Teacher inquiry

These are some of the potential practical experiences we selected that would engage our students: 

  • Sharing our culture – bring recipes from home, shared meal, show and tell.
  • Involving local community – visit farmers' market, use seasonal foods, talk to local producers, develop a product to sell.
  • Using up surplus foods – bring bag of feijoas, apples, fish and develop recipes to share.
  • Making jam, pickles etc for a charity organisation, food bank or a fundraiser.
  • Using leftovers – saving money with cheap meat cuts.

Around these practical experiences we then developed the whole programme, using their practical work as evidence for assessment purposes. Other ways of collecting evidence included: log book entries, interviews with family, farmers, community agencies, self-reflection, peer evaluations of prepared food, and teacher interviews and feedback. 

  • Some other considerations needed to be made around practical classes. How often would practical work occur?
  • Would students select own recipes/work in a group?
  • How would we manage under budget constraints?
  • How flexible is the room use?

We decided a bank of accessible recipes or websites would improve time management, and we looked for suitable resources to support the context and engage with our students' interests and cultural backgrounds. Below are some resources that were useful: 

We intend setting up a collection of recipe cards to be placed into a student dropbox that could be accessed at school or at home. Our students would also put their recipes in there at a later date.

Learning inquiry

The teacher found it easy to identify and apply relevant practical activities within the chosen contexts to develop the programme. Some examples of this worked well, including taking some of the practical activities from an old preserving unit and incorporating these into a new unit on food sustainability at level 7. For example, the teacher used knife skills in preparing fruit for the preservation method of bottling and linked this back to food sustainability. Students prepared some low cost recipes as part of the food security unit. They could have cooked donations for the food bank. Some of these recipes had been previously developed for a unit on family meals and these were easily transferred. Students were also able to choose from an on-going bank of recipe ideas that they had contributed to as a class. 

Practical experiences can still be very much part of the new curriculum and they provide ample opportunity to assess the learning and understanding of our students. The activities can be adapted to suit different student needs and can be just as challenging for the students at both ends of the academic spectrum, as recipe choices are largely self-selected and reflections and evaluations are independently completed. Cultural needs can be supported as students select their recipes and share with others. 

There is a need to ensure there is enough evidence collected and that reflections and evaluations are completed independently according to Ministry requirements for valid assessment. Approaching the planning from a practical platform makes so much more sense as this is the hook-in to student engagement and, if well planned, should enhance student learning.

Learn more

Learning logs - He kete wherawhera (PDF, 13 pages)
This exemplar highlights the value and the process of using learning logs with your students, with strong links to family engagement.

Last updated July 28, 2015