Spark Fires, Save Time

Well, maybe this will be a monthly feature… I prefer quality over quantity anyway…

In this issue Inspiration for Innovation: Toxic chemical fires, tech tools for student products, classroom time-savers, encouraging students during assessments

Current Event (Magnet Tie-in)

Click the image below to take you to the NPR article. Side note: NPR has both the audio files and written transcripts for most of their stories.

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Potential lesson/talking points:

  • How could this have been prevented?
  • What level of responsibility does the company have, given part of the problem was due to a natural disaster?
  • What steps should a company take to inform residents of nearby hazards?
    • Should these be required by law?
  • What health effects (acute/chronic) would result from these types of exposures?
  • How will airborne toxins spread to other areas?
  • How would backlash against Arkema from this affect jobs in the area?

Tech Tool

Click the image below for an interactive ThingLink to introduce you to a variety of student product tools. My suggestion to learn a new tool is to always kills as many birds as you can with one stone. For example, when I wanted to learn how to use AdobeSpark Video (formerly Adobe Voice), I used it to make a holiday video letter to my family. Find something fun or useful for your real life that you can use as a reason to learn a new tech tool for your professional life.

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Teaching Strategy

Do you feel like you never have enough time in your class period? I have personally seen many ways that teachers use class time for administrative tasks that could be handled differently in order to increase student learning time.

The top 3 ways I see teachers lose time are:

  1. taking attendance by calling out students’ names from the roster
  2. passing out papers or returning work during class
  3. taking too long to transition between activities

The ways that I personally address these issues are by:

  1. jotting down absent students during their warm-up assignment. If you don’t do daily warm-up assignments or activities, I strongly recommend considering it to prepare your students for what they are going to do that day and free up a few moments for yourself for attendance and any last minute preparations. As a science teacher, there are almost always last minute preparations.
  2. using a mail folder system. Yes, you have to take the time to file the papers, but that also makes a great job if you have students around that need service hours for a club. I would rather spend the time outside of class filing, than walking around handing things out. It’s also a lot less confrontational when returning graded work.
  3. having transition signals and utilizing timers. Recently, I started saying “mic check” when I need my students to listen. The ones who hear me repeat it, then the ones that hear them, and so on until it ripples outward and the room is quiet. I got the idea from reading Little Brother by Cory Doctorow.

Here’s an article with some other great ideas:

20 quick actions you can do today to set up your classroom for success


If you like to have students use privacy folders or cover sheets for assessments, take them up a notch with a positive or motivational quote or meme! (Positivitea, courtesy of @MathWithMrWood

flat800x800075f-c075800331-u4Thank you for reading. I hope you found something useful and are having a great start to your second quarter of the school year!


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