Finding Your Spark

William Butler Yeats said, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” A good teacher can be the spark that lights a fire in their students. Learn how find that spark and fan it into a fire that can spread to your students and your fellow teachers.


  • Something (a tool, a website, a project, an activity, a technology) that makes you say, “That is SO cool!”
  • Something that makes you WANT to spend an entire weekend “playing” just to figure it out.
  • Something that is FUN. If teaching isn’t fun, you’re not doing it right.
Spark leads to...


  • The spark from a teacher can light a fire in students.
Start With Your Content
You know that you are expected to teach the content covered in chapter 14. Find a tool/activity/project that best fits in with your passion. Something that makes you “spark”. If using that cool tool/activity/project helps light a fire in your students more than Chapter 14, dump chapter 14 and USE IT!
EXAMPLE: The Pony ExpressEXAMPLE: Mission US
So IF you know what you are expected to teach AND you have a tool, web site, activity, project, simulation that teaches it better than the book THEN...SPARK!


Turn the spark into a flame.
Once you have a spark, that spark will die out unless you have fuel and oxygen.
FUEL = Training
Where do you go for training?
Time to* explore
  • create
  • and develop competencies in what you've already been trained on.


Turn the flame into a fire.
  • Support - so you know they're not left hanging out to dry if something goes wrong.
  • Where do you go?
  • NETWORK- Your subject matter experts don't have to be on your campus. The gift of web access means teachers can reach outside of their classroom and campus to other cities, states, and even countries for help.
    • Go to professional development workshops & conferences. Make connections with other educators that share your passions and use the same tools as you.
    • Get contact information: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, email
    • Ask them, “Hey, would it be okay to contact you if I have a question?”

FUEL THE FIRE - Keep it going. Let it spread.

SHARE SUCCESS - Let fellow teachers see what you are doing. Share with administrators and parents too. Rushton Hurley ( shares that many teachers are doing great things but no one knows about it.

What's Obvious to You is Amazing to Others

Share at your school: How awesome would it be if you could take 3-5 minutes out of each staff meeting and use it as "show & tell" time for teachers to share great technology integrating projects. Imagine the enthusiasm this could generate among others.
  • Team Teaching - In some cases you can step in to team teach with other. They present the content and their requirements, You can help them with specifics of the tool.
  • Tutorial Videos - If you can't be there in person, make tutorial videos for the teacher to play for the class (and themselves) to help them learn. Camtasia and Jing are great tools for screen captures.
  • Follow-Up Support - Meet with them after the lesson. Discuss how it went. What worked? What didn't? How can it be improved? You can be their kindling, spreading the fire to others.
  • Share online : Jen Wagner’s words of advice, “Don’t just be a sponge, also be a watering can.” Share what you do online and make it available for others. Use a blog, a wiki, Google Docs. Your experiences can inspire others. Let the light from your fire shine brightly.

MENTOR OTHERS - Be a SME ("Subject Matter Expert")

My Sparks

Apple II


Remember this sound?

Discovery Education

People can be awesome sparks. My first amazing DEN Experience. Other DEN Experiences: Washington DC, Boston, San Diego

The "Original" Rock Dating Game

Leave it To Wheezer

Digital Storytelling

This is a whole workshop in itself. Let kids take charge of their learning by making them the storyteller. Some of my favorite web tools.
Web Tools
*Also available in an iPad app

Free Tools


Make your notes searchable using Noteshelf (or Notability) and Evernote
Band app

The Cloud

Google Forms - Over 75 ways to use Google Forms in the Classroom!
Google Docs - It's replacing MS Office for our students.

QR Codes

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