Valerie Sun, Ed.D.


Becoming an Iron Chef

David Platt, a fellow SGVCUE board member, gave a 20-minute CUEtip on a protocol called Iron Chef using Google Slides at the annual CUE meeting. I've been honing down on this protocol while working with Jon Corippo and Steven McGriff lately, too. It is simple, quick, and helps students reach the 4Cs (Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Critical Thinking) while letting teachers assess student learning. Now that I’ve done it in my class, here’s a breakdown of Iron Chef. Like the game show:

  • Time is of the essence;
  • Presentation and flavor (aka content) are important; and
  • There is a secret ingredient

What is it? Iron Chef is a student-centered creative presentation, where they have the choice to work in groups or individually. This works well in a one-to-one or shared device environment.

How does it work? The teacher determines the subject of Iron Chef. It can be a brand new subject that the students are about to learn or a review on the content they have learned already. The teacher provides a framework for the Iron Chef slide – the necessary ingredients. It can be shared in Google Drive or Google Classroom. Each slide usually includes:

  • A title
  • 3-5 sentences or bullets of the content
  • A picture that represents the content
  • A secret ingredient that is relevant (or not) to the content

The teacher determines the length of time students will have in preparing their particular slide. Each group (or person) needs to complete only one slide and they add their slide to a central slide deck so that it would be ready for the presentation. Give a reminder when there is only one minute left to add the slide. When the time is up, the hands are off the keyboard and the presentations begin. Presentations range from 1-5 minutes, depending on the teacher/subject.


I used this protocol in a doctoral course on EdTech Leadership. First, I explained the Iron Chef protocol and showed them the sample slide I wanted them to complete. I also provided An Educator’s Guide to “The 4Cs” as reference.

The students (mostly post-secondary educators) were not familiar with the 21st century skills. Thus, they were assigned one of the four Cs, to work individually or as a group. I gave them 15 minutes to complete the slide. Within those 15 minutes, they had to read their portion of the article that explained the 4C provided by the link and create their slide. To be fair, I started the countdown clock after making sure that  everyone was on the shared slide deck and had opened the link to the article. They worked fervently and I gave them time warnings when it was 8 minutes, 5 minutes, 2 minutes, and 1 minute. Click on this link to see their creation. Their presentations were 1 minute long.

In our debrief of the protocol, one student said she felt really nervous. She and her partner divided the work – she found the facts for the bullet points, he looked for the image and the student example. She said she realized right away that she needed to prioritize her steps, which were: read for main ideas, type in ideas, check with her partner for agreement, and then make the slide pretty. Another student said he appreciated the rapidity of the protocol and was happy to be able to be able to put his own spin on the slide. A third student said she realized that they were applying all 4Cs in the protocol. They all came to the conclusion that this could be used as an assessment tool as well where they could “live grade” their students with a rubric.

Some ideas to practice Iron Chef in your classroom:

  • Self presentations (Name, 3 facts, a photo of self, secret ingredient: something they find funny)
  • Farm animals (Name of animal, 3-4 facts, photo of the animal, animal habitat, secret ingredient: animal sound)
  • Math properties (Name of the property, 3 facts, example, secret ingredient: application in everyday life)
  • Countries (Name of country, 3-4 facts [ex. population, language spoken, religion, continent], picture of the people, secret ingredient: popular dish

There is very little preparation for the teacher while the students take full responsibility for learning and knowing/reviewing the content. Give the Iron Chef protocol a try in your classroom! The more times you do this in your classroom, the better the students become at the protocol. Furthermore, with 30 second to 1 minute presentations, they are able to practice public speaking on a regular basis in a low-stakes environment.

This post originally appeared in SGVCUE's blog then in CUE's blog in September 2017.