Iron Chef lessons are simple, quick, and help students reach the 4Cs (Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Critical Thinking) while letting teachers assess student learning. 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.

Iron Chef Slides

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 of the content they have already learned. The teacher provides a framework for the Iron Chef slide – the necessary ingredients. It canbe 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 then they add their slide to a central slide deck. Teachers will give a reminder when there is only one minute left. When the time is up, hands are off the keyboard and presentations begin. Presentations will range from one to five 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 a reference.

The students (mostly post-secondary educators) were assigned one of the four Cs to work on individually or as a group. I gave them 15 minutes to complete their slide. Within those 15 minutes, they had to read their portion of the article that explained their C 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 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 involved in an Iron Chef presentation, 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, the better the students become at the protocol. Furthermore, with 30-second to one minute presentations, they are able to practice public speaking on a regular basis in a low-stakes environment.

affiliate blog postEd Note- This post originally appeared on the SGV CUE blog. Any differences between the two posts are editorial choices on this end. Thank you to SGV CUE and Valerie for allowing us to cross-post your fantastic piece. If you are a CUE member and your affiliate has a blog, please email and we’ll cross-post your blog here as well. Together we grow. 


Valerie SunValerie Sun (@MlleValsunshine) is a progressive, techy educator of twelve years in private and public schools across elementary and post-secondary education. Currently, she is a part-time lecturer at CSU Fullerton and CSULA and a curriculum developer. She has developed and taught a robotics curriculum and a tech-infused, French dual-language immersion curriculum in California. Valerie is a STAR Discovery Educator, Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, and Raspberry Pi Certified Educator. She is a proud board member of SGVCUE and presents regularly at tech and dual-language immersion conferences.

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