Jul 072014

First Day of SchoolThe most valuable lesson that I learned from all of my classroom management strategies last year was that none of them are as important as what a teacher does on the first day of school.  This did not come as a surprise to me. As a first year teacher, I was told countless times by numerous, experienced teachers, principals, and trusted family members, that the first day of school is the most critical time for establishing effective Classroom Management. There is even a  very popular book written with the title,  First Days of School, by Harry Wong. While I took this advice seriously, it rings more true to me now than ever. Now that I have had a year to reflect on my effectiveness at managing the behavior of two fourth-grade classes, I can see how my classroom management plan was rather vague, at best. I am not disappointed in myself for a lack of effort or for not taking the message and topic seriously enough. On the contrary, I took all of this information very seriously and did everything possible to put a classroom management plan in place for the first day of school. Now, I can see, only one thing was lacking: experience.  The reason that virtually all first-year teachers struggle to manage behavior effectively is that there is no substitute for experience.  There is nothing wrong with the advice I got as a first year teacher. I simply lacked the experienced vision to design an effective classroom management plan.

My First Day of School

Prior to the first day of school, I was not familiar with the environment of my own work-place. Consequently, I learned the every-day routines, procedures, and transitions right along with my students for the first-time. It is impossible to have a plan in place for the unknown. Most of the advice we new teachers receive doesn’t come in the form of such specific details. As a first-year teacher, I had no idea what questions to even ask of my school and principal. I remember the work and detail I put into classroom management prior to my first day of school. I put together a blueprint for how kids were expected to behave in the hallways, classroom and at lunch. I put together a behavior plan with a golden rule at the very top of the chart that said, Serve God. I explained to the students that serving God is the most important thing we can do each and every day and by following this rule we could do no wrong. Obeying the golden rule includes a lengthy list of do’s and don’ts. Some of the don’ts include, talking while teacher is talking,  talking while another student is talking, blurting-out answers. Some of the do’s are, raising your hand to be called-on, silence in the hallways, addressing the principal and priest politely, and appropriately, and treating other classmates with respect.  I also made it clear that when I raise my hand with five fingers, there needs to be complete silence in the room. While we practiced implementing our golden rule on the first days and week of school, I soon learned that my classroom behavior plan was not nearly specific enough about addressing specific events, situations and circumstances of the typical school day. I came to realize that my own initial expectations fell well short of  reality. The biggest mistake I made, however, was how I allowed kids to enter the room on the very first day of school. Later, as I watched videos of other effective teachers on the first day of school, I began to see a very amusing, if not fitting,  analogy:  A teachers is like the conductor of an orchestra. Continue reading »

Jul 042014
Learning Tools Fractions

There are literally thousands of iPad apps for teachers who want to enhance their daily lessons or classroom management with new and innovative teaching strategies. If you are a teacher and are curious what works and what doesn’t work well in the classroom, Spirited Teaching, is the place to learn. I have probably tried just about everything and it is my goal to tell you about all of them. Because I am a first-year teacher, I could probably afford to be a little bit more experimental with Technology in the classroom than most established veterans who would prefer not to gamble with their proven methods. However, even the most excellent, veteran teachers are always looking for ways to spice up the classroom and their profession. The lengthy list of iPad apps for teachers includes more than just classroom management and educational programs. There are also a few things teachers can use to help with their job such as grading papers, organizing seating charts and creating lesson plans. It is my intention to eventually provide an in-depth review on each of the products that I found the most useful, but that will take some time. Meanwhile, I thought it would be helpful to offer a categorical overview of some of the ways that I put my iPad to use in the classroom my first year as a teacher.  I’ve grouped these iPad applications into three categories: Teacher Tools, Classroom Management and Learning Tools. One other important thing I need to mention: Throughout this article, I will often mention that I am displaying these iPad apps on a projector screen. In order to display the iPad screen on a projector, you can either use a document camera or an Apple TV. With the Apple TV, you can wirelessly display your iPad to your projector screen from anywhere in the classroom. I will talk about this extensively in my upcoming review on the Apple TV for teachers.  Meanwhile, if you prefer not to use technology in the classroom, but like using your iPad, you might find some other ways where it can make things easier for you.  Here are just a few of the iPad Apps that I’ve used, both inside and outside, of the classroom. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 2:20 am
Jul 032014

Math LiteracyBelow is a class assignment and math literacy lesson plan that I created this year as part of my Colorado Work Sample. The Colorado Work Sample includes an entire Unit Plan comprised of 10-15 lessons based on standards from the Colorado Department of Education. This is an important requirement for receiving an alternative teaching license in Colorado. I chose a math fractions unit consisting of 12 lesson plans. A requirement for completing the Colorado Work Sample unit is to include reading and writing literacy in one or more of the lessons. Prior to beginning this unit, I had not given math literacy much, if any thought. Thankfully, one of my many excellent Regis instructors, taught an entire class on the subject of literacy in math. This had a profound impact me and on the teaching strategies I will continue to use to teach math from this point forward.

Before starting this particular lesson plan, my math lessons were rather dull and dry, full of raw numbers, teaching kids how to do the algorithms, but not focusing much on what it all means and how it is really used. The assignment required me to take a deeper look at story problems and the importance of reading and writing, literacy in understanding math.

Please feel free to copy and paste any portion of my lesson plan and assignment to use in your own classroom. You may alter the contents for your own needs and situation as you see fit.

Fourth Grade Math Literacy Assignment

by Rob Delisa

Step One: Reading in Math Literacy

After losing the Super Bowl, the Denver Broncos decided they should have dinner. Only 10 players were hungry. The rest of them were sick to their stomachs from losing. Of the 10 hungry players, 6 decided to go out for Pizza and 4 went out for Mexican food. Peyton Manning was one of the 6 who wanted Pizza and he offered to buy. The 6 hungry players walked into Pizza Hut and ordered 3 Large Pizzas. 1 Large Pepperoni was cut into 16 slices. 1 large sausage pizza was cut into 8 slices and one large, hamburger pizza was sliced into 12 slices. . Eric Decker ate 4 Pepperoni Slices. Peyton Manning ate 3 slices of Sausage Pizza. Wes Welker ate 4 slices of hamburger pizza. Julius Thomas ate 6 slices of Pepperoni pizza. Montee Ball ate 2 slices of Sausage pizza and Jacob Tamme ate 5 slices of hamburger pizza. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 4:42 pm