The Best Behavioral Strategy is a Dynamite Lesson Plan

Reflecting on the past and future of Dynamite Lesson Plan, a teaching blog.

My vision of the: “Dynamite Lesson Plan” aka great Behavior and Classroom Management. I started this blog in early 2007 and it’s evolved to something I am quite proud of today. I named the blog after something my master “teacher-school” teacher told me after observing me the first time. My class was out of control and it was borderline embarassing. I asked him for strategies to keep their behavior under control and he said:

“The best classroom behavior management is a dynamite lesson plan.”

It’s been years since he told me that and it is still the most true thing I’ve ever been told about teaching.

People are drawn to passion and form like a moth to a lightbulb. If you tell a kid he has to learn math he might buy in. If you tell a kid that every chair in the world will fall apart if people don’t learn math, you’ll have buy in.

A dynamite lesson plan is a direction. It simply inspires a plan. After that, the effective teacher must get creative and use a method. I use EDI as my lesson template but there are other good ones. This blog has become a place where I explore ways to create dynamite lesson plans. I appreciate the input I have in the comments and I hope to get more teachers and students involved in what I do here. My hope is it will inspire teachers and empower students to be great and score high.

Here’s to a dynamite future as we continue to discover the parts of a dynamite lesson plan.

Back to the Old Drawing Board

 

 Someone asked me if I agreed it takes about 5 years for a teacher to feel comfortable with her/his craft. I responded by saying it’s taken me 3 years in Santa Ana and 13 in Adelanto to get here today where I am yet again rearranging the furniture and tweaking my behavior program. I say it comes in waves but a dedicated teacher keeps putting out blood, sweat and tears. This all makes the learner experience better. Of course I pull from the stuff I learned in my first five years. Nonetheless the time since has been full of trial and error. The error sometimes shows me more than the success. If you know what doesn’t work, you can narrow it down to what does.

 

 A few days ago I started getting that urge to uproot my seating chart. Kids had settled in and we’re getting used to some bad talking habits during the lessons. In my normal way, I like to think big by writing on a huge piece of cardboard. This time I added a C shaped table and made my teaching area further back. I made a seating chart on a spreadsheet and rearranged some of the overly lively kids to be better located. The kids are always excited and motivated right after a classroom makeover. This was no exception. With 32 school days left in the year, I’m glad I mixed it up. It will work much better, it already is. I’m sore from moving huge tables but I feel satisfied this will give them more of what they need from my 4th grade program. What does “Back to the old drawing board” mean to your teaching?

Preparing Students for Jobs that Don’t Exist Yet

A friend I teach with sent me this link. I think we all can identify with one factoid if not most or all of them. The most significant for me was the one that said we are preparing students for job descriptions that don’t exist now but will.

Another teacher friend of mine wrote about the same thing on her blog today. Wow, this says to me we need to prepare our kids with the basics to adapt to wherever the bread and butter may be:

Can you envision today’s high school or college students carrying out jobs like these:

Bio-botic Physcian

Chef-farmer (agri-restaurateur)

Clone rancher

Digital archaeologist

Drone dispatcher

Exozoologist

Energy Harvester

Global system architect

Holodeck trainer

Mobile BioMass Therapist

Personal brand manager

Smart car interior advertisement sales representative

Space junk hauler

Transhumanist consultant

Robotician

The World Future Society; an organization served with the charge of making those predictions can. In their recently released special report (PDF) these were among some of the 70 specific jobs predicted for 2030.

via Jobs of the Future – Will Our Students Be Prepared? | Angela Maiers Educational Services, Inc.

Great Visual Aid for Introducing Fractions

Fractions can be a tricky concept to teach but this visual aid can help. There are so many ways to illustrate fractions. Once kids start to get it, fractions become second nature and most kids can get there rather quickly. Until they do “get it,” however, visuals are invaluable in your lessons. In this photo, kids can laugh as well as learn. You might ask them before showing them this, “Is 2 more than one?” etc. In this cartoon, 1 is more than 2,3,4 etc. They may not get the concept fully right away but it makes a nice starting point to begin learning how fractions work.
tumblr_mhsirn9yZe1ql2603o1_500

Classroom Design – Less is More

Since classroom time is the most important time in the learning day, we as teachers definitely need to be thinking about how less is more in classroom organization decisions.

Walking in your classroom has to be, at the very minimum, possible. At best it should be easy. If you are tripping over desks to get to kids and/or unable to get from one side to the other, you aren’t doing it right. Organizing a classroom design to let you walk around unencumbered will yield results. Feng Shui and general aesthetic principles guide architects toward minimalism every day. Less in the room is more in that it yields creativity and relieves tension. Having open space in a class is becoming more and more challenging. With internet for classrooms taking up necessary computer space, we are hard-pressed to create that calming, freeing space we want. Still, the internet and other computer tools are doing much in education so we have to make a space for them.

Teachers are given a mix of school furniture each year and usually the items are minimal. However, one should consider how much extra clutter a room needs. Getting rid of the unneeded furniture in place of items that add to the learning environment can be an excellent decision. At the same time, moving something like a bookshelf can open worlds of wonder to a classroom. It is amazing how much I have seen change by changing the wall my bookshelf was on. This will of course vary teacher to teacher according to preference.

As we look to the future and consider the virtual classroom, the physical room environment should continue to be at the forefront. As hybrids continue to emerge, we may see that the classroom is not less important but more because kids are in it less. Since classroom time is the most important time in the learning day, we as teachers definitely need to be thinking about how less is more in classroom organization decisions.

Parent Conference Coffee Selection and Method

20131031-063849.jpg

Parent conferences go best with a Melitta pour-through using a mild coffee, like Gevalia or Starbucks.

Once that is done my best advice is to try and get them to talk. You learn more about the child that way. Tell about progress and show some sample work. Most of all listen. (It’s harder for some than others) I wrote a short article on it if interested: Listening at Parent Conferences https://www.dynamitelessonplan.com/parent-conferences-tip-listen-to-parents-about-their-child/

The Business Career Paths Many Young People Can Take

Once the celebrations are over, the first thing a young graduate has to decide is what career he or she is going to follow. Having a business degree makes a young person a suitable candidate for many business sectors; the problem is not one of too little choice, but rather too much.

Career opportunities

The world has truly opened up, especially for young people who have a business degree. For example, possible career sectors include Communications, Human Resources, Management, Marketing and Administration, to name just a few. These need not just be homegrown opportunities, either; many offer the chance to work internationally, giving the employee a flavor of other countries and cultures. Finally, there is also the possibility of working for oneself. A business degree should equip a young person with all the knowledge they need to start up their own business or become an entrepreneur.

Of course, one sticking point with the above may be money. Much of a graduate’s available finances will have been spent on their education, perhaps leaving little room to maneuver when it comes to entering a specific field or sector. This is where scholarships, such as the Laidlaw Centennial Scholarship Challenge Fund can be beneficial. This scholarship enables recent graduates to source employment opportunities abroad, which will in turn broaden their education, both personally and in terms of business. If Lord Laidlaw himself has proved anything, it is the value of an international education. He founded the Institute for International Research back in the 1970s, an organization that enables conferences of all types to be held on a global stage. He now lives in South Africa, having settled there in view of the fantastic business opportunities the region currently offers.

Some business sectors are more lucrative than others, so one of the factors in your decision-making process is to define your core objective. Are you interested in making money immediately or are you prepared to enter employment that offers you a bridge to a field you are especially interested in, with the money coming later? A bridging role may offer you the opportunity to learn further works-based skills that make you even more desirable as an employee.

If good remuneration is your core objective – and there is nothing wrong with wanting to make money – then good sectors to get into are Computing and Technology. These often rank in the Top Ten graduate jobs for their ample rewards and the scope of the different roles, such as software developer. This area is constantly evolving as the world becomes more technological, both in business and in the domestic market, so a computer-based job offers good salaries and job satisfaction.

However, there are rewards besides money and one is job satisfaction. For those who want to have a role that gives something back, teaching, especially at elementary level, can be an excellent sector to enter as a graduate.

Take advantage of all the opportunities open to you as a graduate, including scholarships, to secure a job that fulfills all your expectations and broadens your horizons.

Teach: Tony Danza on A&E – My Review

Teach: Tony Danza – what happens when a career actor steps into the classroom and tries public school teaching, under lights and television cameras. Is is an accurate presentation of the profession? Not quite.

Every public school teacher should watch this show!

Teach: Tony Danza – what happens when a career actor steps into the classroom and tries public school teaching, under lights and television cameras. Is is an accurate presentation of the profession? Not quite.

Teach: Tony Danza is a reality show on A&E currently running on Friday nights. (You can currently catch all the epsiodes free online at hulu.com) The show has a lot to offer us as teachers as well as the “civilians” out there because it raises crucial topics about the profession. Tony Danza, actor made famous by shows Taxi and Who’s the Boss, actually taught for one year at a Philadelphia high school. Though it aims to be, the show is not a realistic portrayal of the teaching profession. Having said that, his reactions to the classroom challenge and administrative pressure feel real. They are an excellent starting point for understand the world that is teaching. I am glad this show was produced because it shows some extreme challenges we as teachers face. I hope the viewers take the good and leave the acting because there is quite a bit if it. As my long-term readers know, I’ve been a public school teacher for 13 years and therefore feel qualified to evaluate the show below.

  1. Teachers teach first, then ask. When they fail to teach, this is known as “forward questioning.” It is a big no no because it just doesn’t work. Danza loses a point for using forward questioning throughout the episodes.
  2. Danza does not stay focused and on topic. This is a nightmarish trait for a high school teacher, or any grade for that matter. Students need to be guided carefully and clearly through new concepts for them to take hold. Danza is an actor/entertainer and this is not what works with kids to teach them a year’s worth of standards.

Danza sweats and appears nervous many times in the show. He often appears over-extended. The viewer should note the following:

He taught 28 kids 45 minutes a day.

I teach 104 kids for 6 hours a day.

When he appears harried by his heartless Principal and asst Principals, we as viewers need to remember he is not even doing a quarter of the work an ordinary teacher must do.

There are many scenes where he is helping coach the football team that are useless and off topic from the show’s premise. There are also large spaces of time devoted in one episode to Danza’s daughter and fights breaking out that really have nothing to do with understanding teaching. You would think in one year they’d have gathered more footage of Danza becoming a proficient teacher. Still, what is there is worth seeing.

In conclusion, while it may seem I am not big on this series, I do recommend you see it. There were many times (mostly in episodes 1-3) where I found myself cheering because so many things resonated as true to my job. It is nice to know people see the constraints of time and demands of the administration and parents. It shows some of what what we teachers have to deal with on the job.

Danza probably went into this thinking because he was an entertainer he could succeed. It is far more than that. You must engage the learner with innovative methods. Often you receive no recognition. I hope civilians (non-teachers) will see all we are expected to do and that not just anyone can waltz in and do it. Teacher preparation and teacher training are crucial but tenacity and ongoing improvement are also invaluable.

Teach: Tony Danza is a reality show on A&E currently running on Friday nights. (You can currently catch all the epsiodes free online at hulu.com)

Cyber-Safety $1,000 Classroom Grant

I’m promoting this teacher grant opp because I think it’s helpful and fairly easy to apply for, especially if, like me, you enjoy writing. Below is the information Jason mailed to me. I hope you’ll take some time to look at it! Good luck!

Hi

My name is Jason and I am the Community Manager at Internet.frontier.com. I want to inform you about an awesome teacher grant opportunity. The grant is for $1,000 and open to school teachers and college professors.

In order to apply, teachers must submit either a 300-500 word essay or 1-2 minute video on the following prompt:

The Internet provides students a vast resource for research and learning. Yet, navigating the beneficial and dangerous places online has been an ever-evolving battle. What have you as a teacher and your classes learned when it comes to cyber safety?

More information about this opportunity can be found here:

https://internet.frontier.com/cyber-security-grant.html

The application deadline is April 30, 2017 so it would be great if you could post this opportunity as soon as possible on your The ADTA Website – Grant website page (http://www.adtatoday.org/) so teachers have ample time to prepare their applications.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me.

Kind regards,
Jason Linton
Community Manager
Internet.frontier.com

Desert Trails and Charters in the News Again

MG_1774-525x350I’ve heard some outrageous things about the “blossoming” Desert Trails in the news lately. I’m still waiting to see if they are all true. They brought national attention to our small desert school district last year when the parent trigger law was invoked for the first time in history. I won’t thank them for that yet. If it ends up bringing good to the school district and to public education as a whole then I will but the jury is still out. Their mvement was fueled by illogical and unfounded hatred for public school teachers and teachers’ unions. Neither are the true enemy of education. Debra Tarver introduced the nation to a new form of organizing parents through fear and lies. In doing so, she advanced her career and income. What happened? A charter took over a public school. I wrote about this about a year ago you can read that here. Basically I was interested in looking at the criteria people use in politics to judge (and prejudge) schools. Gathering data and putting a SPIN on data is a common practice in the media these days. As long as the spin mobilizes enough votes, it doesn’t matter how logical it is.

Brooke Self on Twitter: "DesertTrails Exec. Director Debra Tarver speaks to the AESD board regarding ed code violations related to tax filings from: http://ow.ly/DBoqd
Brooke Self on Twitter: “DesertTrails Exec. Director Debra Tarver speaks to the AESD board regarding ed code violations related to tax filings from: Brooke Self on Twitter

DesertTrails Exec Director Debra Tarver speaks to the Adelanto school board re: a notice of ed code violations

They cite one test and say this percentage of the kids are below grade level and another test to point out they had huge improvement. Recently Desert Trails has reported a 47% proficiency rate for their students in Science. Do they mean the whole school or just grade 5, where the test has been given as far back as 1997, when I started teaching in public schools. If it was just 5th grade, what of K-4th and 6th grade? Besides that, why are we not hearing amazing statistics in Language Arts and Math? Are these not the crux of an education? I might argue they are. In an emergency board meeting tonight I learned there have been written allegations of the school district against Desert Trails including non-filing of taxes. I must say here these are only allegations. Still, watch the news to see where these allegations go.

In the same board meeting a gentleman got up and slammed our city’s schools. He saw no glimmer of hope in them. I found it sad to listen to him. I also found it pathetic and disgusting. If only I could talk to him and explain the “union” is not the cause of his woes. Perhaps he was the most disgruntled person Debra Tarver, the Director of Desert Trails, could get to speak on behalf of the school? It sure sounded that way. I got to thinking about how they are now in a similar boat to the schools they once assaulted with the help of Parent Revolution last year. They must now answer to the umbrella district they fled from. That has to be tough for Tarver and people who follow her. I’m writing about this situation because it is close to home and because I think the charter option, good or bad, needs to be addressed by teachers. Not all charters come about this way. Schools don’t have to be ruthlessly and arguably immorally taken over to go charter. Schools can apply on their own. There is so much to be said on the Desert Trails, Parent Trigger, Charter school topic: What do you think about it? All opinions are welcome.