A Different Kind of Restaurant

Imagine going to a fancy restaurant. You've dropped in without reservations, so you ask the maitre d' if he has a table available.

"Certainly, sir," he replies. "But I must warn you: At this restaurant we have a very unusual rule: You must consume at least 1,000 calories by midnight."

That does seem odd, but you're hungry, so you agree. The maitre d' escorts you to your table and hands you a menu. You open it and see that there are hundreds of items available.

"I can pick anything, right?" you ask.

"That's right, sir," the maitre d' confirms. "You can pick anything you want, and you can order as many items as you please. Just remember: You must consume at least 1,000 calories by midnight."

When COVID-19 closed down schools in the the spring of 2020, teachers were told to be creative and experiment.

So I did. Over the next few months I reimagined my 7th grade English class. And one question, in particular, shaped my thinking: What if my class were more like a restaurant, where students could pick any item from the menu, as long as they earned a certain number of points every week?

The restaurant analogy is not perfect, and of course, it's not that simple. Nothing ever is. As the head chef at this very weird restaurant, it's my job to ensure that my students eat a wide variety of dishes—even some they may not like. In plain language, there are some assignments that are mandatory. But to a large degree, I've designed a course that allows students to direct their own learning, and that allows me to guide students towards the "foods" that they need most.

The homepage of this website is like the main menu. At this time, most of the links don't work, because I have not quite finished the work of putting everything online. However, I hope to finish this work within the next few weeks.

That's the big picture. In the rest of this introductory unit, we're going to look at the details of how this is all going to work.

Return to the Table of Contents for this unit, then click on the next lesson, the one called "Synergy and Gmail".