Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Curt's Crazy Cafe

I know that I left everyone hanging at the end of my last post wondering what "Curt's Crazy Cafe" was all about.  Some of my students' first reactions upon entering on the first day were:

1. "Amazing, completely and utterly amazing. It is set up so awesomely!"
2. "My first impression of Curt's Crazy Cafe was that this was going to be a strange experience that I would tell stories about."
3. "This is nicer than some real cafes I've been in!"

What could I have done to get this kind of reaction? A complete transformation of my classroom so that it looked at felt like a cafe.

After about $35 at the local dollar store, I walked out with six different colored plastic tablecloths, six different kinds of fake flowers, six glass vases, six sets of salt and pepper shakers, six tea light holders, and six electric tea light candles.

The Buffet Table
Each Trait Hangs Above 

Welcome to Curt's Crazy Cafe where cooking up great writing is fun and tasty!


Inside each folder is one to two assignments to learn and practice what the different writing traits are. Since there are nine assignments, I set nine days as a benchmark since they should not take more than a class period to complete.  A fellow teacher created/found many of the assignments.  I tweaked them to fit my class and added a few lessons from the writing traits kit that I have from my district. (See Freebies page)

My Name Tag
Since traveling to different countries is one of my passions, I worked that into the unit by having the cafe turn into a different country each day.  Using Grooveshark, I created playlists for each country based on my favorites or ones that were representative of the country.  I made sure to have enough songs to play for the entire period. (Click here to view or use my playlists.) I asked students to dress up and to bring snacks.  If they dressed and brought snacks that matched the theme, they would get LearningEarning bucks (will blog about this great site another time). I am not telling students what the next day's cafe will be until school ends.  They have to check Edmodo or get the message from Remind 101 in order to know.

For day one, I used Caribbean first since I knew many students had Hawaiian shirts or beach hats from our day two experience.  Also, I loved that it was alliteration! 
Curt's Crazy Caribbean Cafe

I chose an American cafe for day two since I figured many students had red, white, and blue to wear.  I played many classic rock songs.  When Bon Jovi's Wanted Dead or Alive came on, many began singing while working.  Excitement went through the roof when Michael Jackson's Beat It started! To have this happen on Friday seventh period is absolutely wonderful.

I really pumped up the cafe on Monday when I made it a Mexican cafe.  I had chili pepper lights that have sat in my attic for years, a sombrero hat, chili pepper necklace, and fiesta signs to make it Cinco de Mayo in the cafe.


Since today was the middle of the week, I decided to surprise them even more.  Last night, I messaged out that I had a surprise.  I decided to make do the Irish cafe since my husband has a very easy soda bread recipe.  It only took two batches to make 75 slices, and I had all ingredients except the sour cream.  Also, I was quite sure very few students have ever eaten it, and I wanted to introduce them to something new.  Many of them loved it.  A few didn't like raisins, but they liked them in the bread.

I'm saving the Spanish (Spain) cafe for Friday since I was able to pick up an awesome Spanish black hat with red pom poms hanging from it.  For our final day, I'm having my favorite, Curt's Crazy Italian Cafe.  I have lots of Carmen Consoli (the more C's the better!) songs to play and will have another food treat, pizzelles.  My daughter's caretaker is loaning me her machine, recipe, and containers.  Since she said it makes two every 30 seconds, I figured it will be super easy to get 75 of them! (I hope.)

As the students work, I remind them how many days the cafe has left and that by then the cafe will disappear and so will my crazy outfits.  Many don't want it to leave nor my outfits. "We love them!"

Since I have had such bad hat head from the chef hat or the other hats I've been wearing, I have had to wear my entire outfit, chef hat and all, to some parent conferences.  I'm amazed that none of them have given me a strange look or question me about it.  Everyone in my building, including all the other students, is used to me and are now asking me what country I am today! I never could have imagined this last year.

Japanese cafe
Spanish Cafe

Pizelles (Pizelli) for Italian Cafe