Fifty Minute Classroom

Aug 17, 2022, 19:23

Teaching with Puzzles

01 March 2009

Crossword and word-search puzzles can be fun, effective tools for familiarizing students with important terms.

By Adam Weiner, JobTrain and the Sequoia Adult School

We all get in a rut. Line cooks start turning out dish after dish, caring less for the quality because they have done it over and over again. Customers go to the same places and order the same thing, not because they are afraid to try something new; they are just stuck on their tracks like a street car. Teachers have the same problem, and when we do, the students turn on their I-pods and tune us out.

I am always looking for new ways to teach the same old thing. New tricks to pull out of a hat. One of the things that I have found is the very effective use of puzzles in teaching.

Occasionally, I start a class with a word- search puzzle with all of the terms I am
going to cover in the class. I end the class with a “test” of a crossword puzzle using the same terms. It is, I have found, incredibly effective. The best part is that there are many places on the Internet where you can create puzzles for free.

Two of my favorites are: and www. These sites even provide the answers for the puzzles. (Note: Both of these sites, along with the others I have tried, have extra features that require a membership fee. However, I have made about 20 different puzzles off of these sites just using the free features, and this is perfectly legal under the sites’ rules.)

One of the things that I particularly like to teach with puzzles is cooking principles. Here are word-search and crossword puzzles that I use for this. By the way, for students not fluent in English or reading, the word search really assists them in learning the words.

Get out of your rut. You will find it fun when your students show their appreciation (and their ability to learn) for your trying something new. 

Chef Adam Weiner teaches the 12- and 24-week Introduction to Professional Cooking Program for JobTrain and the Sequoia Adult School on the San Francisco Peninsula. Graduates have gone on to work at Stanford University and Medical Center, Bon Appétit Management Company, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Hyatt and Four Seasons Hotels. Weiner has a California Vocational Teaching Credential{ and has written more than 40 articles for four different publications. He was nominated by the local ACF chapter as Chef of the Year 2008 and is the Chef Association of
the Pacific Coast’s education chairperson. He is also an instructor for the U.S. Navy’s Adopt-A-Ship program.