Friday, November 11, 2011

Greenpeace truffles!

This year, as for the last two, my students are doing a community activity for their homeroom subject, Pathways. It started two years ago when Amanda, the other Year 8 homeroom teacher, and I returned from term 3 break with the same idea: let's do some fundraising and packing and donation gathering for the victims of the Samoan tsunami. So we joined forces. It was so very successful that last year we did it again. Amanda was gone, but I'm now working with Jasna.The students had been given the task, first, of researching a charity and presenting it to the rest of Year 8, arguing why we should support that particular charity. Last year they voted to support UNICEF. This year's choice was Greenpeace.

The activity has been so very successful that one of our other campuses is taking it up - much more practical than working from books. The kids love doing it and learn an amazing amount, from civics to running a mini-business! And they can do it whether they're academic kids needing a challenge or non-academic kids who like the warm feeling of having done something that will help someone else. They can shine in this task as in very little else at school.

 Its success has also led to Year 9 teachers giving their students - our former students! - the task they performed so well last year. Which means that suddenly Year 8 is having to compete with Year 9 for whatever dollars the other students have available. Well, we're working around it, timetabling it as best we can, and making the students choose activities that will work, no matter how many others are selling cupcakes or running a dogdeball game or a lolly jar count.

Yesterday a group of girls from my 8B made chocolate truffles. I had the original idea and it turned out that one of them had made truffles before, from the same basic recipe as I found on-line. No point in making expensive ganache-based sweets when you want to buy cheap ingredients and sell to other students. I made some as a test run last weekend, it worked nicely and I gave the young truffle-making expert the leftovers. But they had to make more than one batch, so they went to the supermaket and bought, between them, $33.00 worth of ingredients! And they'd advertised them at $1.00 a bag of five.
Urk. "Girls," I said,"you're going to have to sell 33 bags of truffles even to get your money back. The profit will be very small." But they sold the lot in five minutes, as I'd known they would, with demand for more, and their profit was a little more than I had expected because they had sold some individual sweets. And they do have some leftover ingredients, which would make it cheaper next time.

I told them they didn't have to do it again and Pepa, the truffle expert, said, "You mean we can't do this again?" :-)

I assured her they could if they wished. So they're going to do some more a week from now and good on them!

I am actually learning as much as my students, and hopefully we can do it again next year and I will have one sure-fire money-spinner, but I'll find a way they don't have to spend $$ of their own money to do the task.

Next week's food delight is brownies, made by a boy who does them regularly at home and assures me they're quick and easy and won't take all morning as last year's cookies did. He and his group will be baking them in the foods room first thing in the morning.

Stand by for more news!