Taking an Extra friday afternoon

As a teacher, I have not met anyone who looks forward to doing extras. Taking a class where you don’t know any names, you may not be familiar with the subject matter and you have not had any opportunity to build repore with the students, can be challenging.

So last session on Friday I fronted up to Year 7 Science. The regular teacher was genuinely ill and so had not been able to write up a detailed lesson plan. Do text book work on “mixtures” was all I had. In situations like this I fall back on a tried and proven survival method. So I googled “mixtures wordsearch” and soon had a puzzle sheet that I knew would keep the students busy on a Friday afternoon.

Whilst googling I chanced upon this gem – Mixtures and their Separation. Because I love completing clueless puzzles this looked promising.


So armed with 25 copies of this puzzle and some wordsearch puzzles (in case I had any fast workers) I turned up to greet 7B at the classroom door. The kids were bouncy, as year 7’s usually are on a Friday afternoon. I introduced myself (got the usual Mr.T jokes – you should have dark skin and big muscles!) then asked for quiet while I marked the roll. After some rude interuptions I stopped and emphasized my class rules. I only have four, which I use the word ROME as a memory aid: Respect, Organisation, Manners and Effort.

Completing the roll I directed the kids to some pictures of mixtures in their text book. We looked at glasses of cordial dissolved in water and discussed liquids that wouldn’t mix such as oil and water.


Conducting a discussion with kids when you don’t know their names isn’t easy. So I cut the discussion short (types of mixtures, separation methods, etc.) and introduced the mixtures puzzle. Within 30 seconds the class went very quiet. All heads were bowed, pens furiously writing in given letters on the puzzle sheet. This continued for the best part of 30 minutes. The advantage of this was that I was able to move around the room and get to know many of the kids.

A7I wrote an encouraging comment in about half their planners. Something like: “Alana has completed an excellent sessions work in Science today”. This reinforced my expectation that the students would do their best work. It also has the added bonus of building up repore when I next see these kids in the yard or in class. Perhaps I will teach some of these kids next year?

The time flew by. I gave some kids who were struggling, a free letter. This helped them keep going. Before I knew it, the 50 minute session was over. I really enjoyed the class and made a real connection with kids such as Bethany, Rachele, Wes, Wilma, Jake, Alana and Joshuah.

If I were this classes regular teacher, I would use the words in the puzzle as a springboard for further work. eg. Explain how the following methods separate mixtures: evaporation, chromotography, centrifuge, magnetism, etc. Of course suitable prac work would also be used.

By the way, you can create your own puzzles of this type using the excellent shareware program: Crossword Wizard.


About webmaths

I have been teaching Mathematics in Victorian secondary schools for 30 years. I use the www to make my maths lessons better. I hope this blog will give other teachers some ideas to try in their own classes.
This entry was posted in Pedagogy, Personal, Teaching Ideas, Web Resources and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Taking an Extra friday afternoon

  1. Mr. D says:

    I’m surprised those students still know who Mr. T is. I thought I was getting old because less and less of my students would know what I was talking about. Luckily though, there’s a movie remake coming out next year that should bring him back for the next generation.

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