A Teacher’s Time-Saving Strategies

The following blog was written by first-grade North Carolina teacher Tiffany Kramer. Tiffany provides some time-saving strategies and insight that may help other LASER i3 teachers. Thank you, Tiffany, for sharing with us!

After attending our first week of LASER i3 training in 2011, my 1st grade team was very excited about the engaging lessons the kit provided, but we also wondered how much time it would take. It seems like every teacher's schedule gets tighter every year. We wondered how we would find time to set up, teach the lesson, clean up, and make use of student notebooks. 

I am blessed to have a PLC team that works well together, and we are consistently coming up with new ideas to teach lessons and ways to save time. After returning from our 1st week of LASER i3 training, we sat down and discussed ways we could use our time wisely.

Here are the two main time savers that we are still using with each kit.

1) Setting up/ tearing down as a team:

Preparing for each of the experiments can be a lot of work for one teacher. To ensure that did not happen, we decided to set up and tear down together. For example, our Solids and Liquids STC unit calls for 20 different solids for students to observe and instructs one teacher to set it up, on their own, and then pass the materials to the next teacher. We decided to set up an assembly line after work and to prepare the trays of the 20 objects together. With each teacher and assistant taking 1 to 2 solids, we quickly and easily set them up in record time. We continued this process for all lessons. This also gave us time to talk about different ways we could handle situations that might arise during the lesson, like questions, spills, or problems that might come up.

2) SMART Board (SB) lessons:

We were concerned that if we ran the lessons just by memory or by just trying to follow the book, we would lose precious time; we may lose our place, or we may forget an important question to ask. Since our school is privileged enough to have SMARTBoard software, we decided to create SB presentations for each lesson. This allows us to quickly move through the material, assuring that those important questions were asked; we had great visual cues, and it kept the students engaged.

In each SB presentation we include:

  • lesson name and student objectives
  • review of previous vocabulary and concepts
  • new vocabulary, with pictures
  • experiment/activity procedures
  • safety tips
  • Student notebook time (table of contents, fill in the blank focus sentence, illustration)

This may sound like a lot of work, and don't get me wrong, it is at first. The amount of time and stress involved in creating SB presentations and setting up together as team is all worth it in the end. The best thing is that once it's done, you can save it for next year!

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