Lunchtime Cafeteria Chat

It is amazing to me what a well oiled machine our cafeteria is each day! Amidst the near 800 students walking in and out, the volume of students all talking over one another, the perfectly timed staggered schedules, the forgotten utensils, and spilled food and drinks, the students still get in and out of there within 30 minutes each and every day without fail. The wonderful people working those lunches are absolutely amazing!

As I walk around the cafeteria, or even stand outside in the hallway, I hear all of the different types of conversations…some are about their lunches, or about their classes that morning, or possibly even about their classmates. However, at a glance around the cafeteria, there are other students who are not talking at all and some tables are even eating in silence. While I appreciate students who may want to eat in silence, I wonder if there are others who need a topic in which to engage in conversation?

When my colleague Erin suggested putting up some type of slide presentation on the projector screen on the stage during lunch, I thought it was a genius idea! She said it could be like the previews in a movie theater that everyone watches before the feature presentation. Like most ideas with me, we jumped right in. We came up with prompts for students to use as a piece of their conversations and spark interesting conversations around the cafeteria.  We put 15 ideas together in a looping ppt, with a 30 second transition between slides.

Here are our first week’s slides:

Slide01 Slide02 Slide03 Slide04 Slide05 Slide06 Slide07 Slide08 Slide09 Slide10 Slide11 Slide12 Slide13 Slide14 Slide15


It was so fun to walk around and see students pointing at the screen and offering what they thought the answer would be and explaining why! What a way of creating a student culture that demonstrates how differently and creatively we can all think about the same thing.

Like any idea, there are always ways to improve and this idea is no different! We have brainstormed ways to include pics of the students, our Peacemaker awards (shout outs for students and/or teachers who are caught doing great things -PBS), pics/fun facts about the teachers, and ways for all of the students to contribute ideas/prompts for the presentation. My colleague Melissa came up with the adorable name of “Chat-n-Chew” which is so much better than “lunch presentation” and offered to have a group of her students design future presentations and of course, they are the “Chat-n-Chew Crew.” 🙂  Each homeroom teacher will have suggestion forms for their students to send to Melissa’s 4/5 class to use in their presentation creation.

One day, I will get Erin on here to blog (I hope she is reading this) because she has so many wonderful ideas to share! 🙂


8 thoughts on “Lunchtime Cafeteria Chat

  1. Marilyn Burns

    What about a website like the one for WODB where people can contribute ideas for slides? There seems like so many ways to go — a collection as you posted, slides that are themed in some way (maybe as number of the day depending on the day of the month), maybe a call for kids to post on a huge graph (e.g., how many birthday twins, with birthdays on the same day and month, do we have. One day kids can make prediction, next day collect data in individual classes, next day collect in cafeteria for greater sample). You’ve got me thinking.


  2. naumannotions

    As the principal of this wonderful school, thanks for engaging students during lunch. The noise level is way down and the talk is math and ELA related! SO amazing! Thanks to Erin, Kristin, and Melissa for getting this started!


  3. carloliwitter

    Can you find a bulletin board some where in the school so kids who come up with answers for some of these can write their thoughts next to the pictures?


  4. Nancy Belkov

    Great idea. I’ve been sharing it with others. I shared the basic idea on another blog, The Treasure Hunter, that is looking to post positive things happening in public schools. The creator of that blog loved this idea and joined MathMinds. I’d love to hear how the conversations continue!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Are High School Clubs a Bad Idea? – THE BIGGER PICTURE: Educating Students for the Globalized Present

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