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"Bonjour la classe!” said Sue Reiss, French teacher at John Jay Middle School. She and her students were in the Home and Careers classroom. The sunny space is divided into four kitchens, each with a stove, sink, and small table. Racks of herbs grow inside, and garlic from the school garden, visible through the windows, is drying in baskets.
“Today we are going to make croque monsieur with béchamel sauce,” said Madame Reiss. “Please break into your dialogue groups and go to a kitchen.”
From a previous lesson, the students already knew that croque monsieur consisted of a layer of ham and Gruyere cheese pressed between two thin slices of bread, filled and topped with béchamel sauce—a creamy mix of butter, flour, and milk. The bread is brushed with butter, and the sandwich is toasted under a broiler.
Half of the students went to the stoves, while others assembled the sandwiches.
Laura Woelfel, Home and Careers teacher, directed the preparing of the roux in English. “Keep stirring.”
Madame Reiss encouraged the students in French. “Mélanger.”
This new interdisciplinary enrichment is a collaboration between Home & Careers and World Languages. It reaches all sixth-grade students who are taking a language. Spanish classes made guacamole and Latin students made lentil salad with fresh mint.
While the sandwiches were under the broiler, Madame Reiss went over the vocabulary of the experience. Pour? Verser. Season? Assaisonner. Melt? Faire Fondre.
“When your croque-monsieur is ready, you will cut them in half and you will invite your friends to eat with you,” said Madame Reiss. “Say ‘je t'invite.’”