Taco Food Truck Project Spices Up Learning for Ulster BOCES Students at the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

The whiteboard greeting of "Hola! Bienvenidos!" seen when entering special education teacher Ainsley Williams' classroom set the tone for a Taco Food Truck project at the Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning (CITL) at Mt. Marion. After Ms. Williams returned from a recent professional development event at High Tech High in San Diego, California, she was eager to apply her new Project Based Learning (PBL) experience to her classroom. 

Knowing her students loved food, she found the idea of a Taco Food Truck and then engaged her students in the hands-on project. "To introduce the project, I told them that a new city was created called City of Williams and that I had been appointed the mayor who wanted to have a taco food truck for my citizens to eat." And, pun intended, the students ate the idea up.

The class brainstormed about what a food truck is and what supplies it would need to operate. After a survey of 25 staff members around the school regarding their taco preferences, they bought the ingredients, and prepared for the next phase: feeding their hungry customers.

Multiple tables lined the room with colorful signs made by the students with the names of their food trucks. With the help of staff, students took orders by checking off boxes on a homemade order form. The students then assembled the orders, customized to each “customer’s” noted preferences. Staff members from the school came in to place their orders and enjoyed their meals at a festive table featuring chips and salsa appetizers. The students even took to-go orders and delivered them to various staff members throughout the building.

When asked about the activity, Jacob Small, a CITL student from the Kingston City School District, said he was surprised that he actually liked serving food because he thought he wouldn't. His favorite part was making the sign for his food truck, which was adorned with a multi-colored heart. And no surprise, when asked what else he liked about the project, he said that he enjoyed making and eating tacos.

Ms. Williams’ emphasized the value of some of the skills the students worked on, especially money, time management, and collaboration. “I thought each student displayed confidence as they took orders for the first time and socialized with unfamiliar people. All of their hard work really showed! I am so proud!!”

Assistant Superintendent for Special Education and Pupil Personnel Services at Ulster BOCES Dr. Jilliane Berardi said she is excited CITL’s teachers and students are exploring process-based learning and developing new skills along the way. “Not only is it a memorable educational shared experience, it’s fun, it’s engaging, and who doesn’t love tacos!” she commented.

Thank you to Ms. Williams and team for bringing this learning experience to her students.