Episode 59: Amanda Miliner, 2015 Georgia Teacher of the Year

June 17, 2015
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Amanda is an elementary teacher in Houston County, Georgia who was recognized as the 2015 Georgia Teacher of the Year. In 2006 she was Miss Georgia and competed for the title of Miss America.

This last year she spent time in schools model teaching, presenting, co-teaching and talking with various organizations across the state. She also traveled to Washington, DC where she met the President, twice.

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She sees herself as a self-made person. She knows how important education is. She likes to explain to kids that she came from a single parent home but that she has not let that interfere with her life journey. She is a first generation college graduate in her family and now she is working on her doctorate.  She emphasizes to kids that she wanted something better for herself.

Amanda has a no excuses mentality in the classroom. She expects the kids to work hard and not ask for handouts.

She comments that she didn’t start out wanting to be a teacher, but explains how the desire to teach rose to the top.

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Listen closely as she talks about the teacher who hooked her into wanting to be a teacher because she had a classroom that was like an educational theme park!

We talk about what her ideal classroom would look like as well as what her favorite resources are.

She describes herself as being orange not blue and how that impacts her teaching and her interactions with the kids.

She will challenge you to think about how you see and work with the kids.

Catch up with Amanda on Twitter @gatoty2015

Amanda mentioned these resources:

Kidblog

iMovie

Length: 30:36

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Episode 51: Rigor Made Easy with Dr. Barbara Blackburn

April 17, 2015

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My guest today is Dr. Barbara Blackburn. She is an educational consultant who has made Rigor in the classroom one of her signature topics. She is the author of 15 books and numerous articles on educational topics to name just a few there is Rigor in the Classroom, Rigor is Not a Four-Letter Word, Rigor for Special Needs Students, and, our focus today, Rigor Made Easy.

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She has taught early childhood, elementary, middle, high school and college students. She is a national speaker who can often be found presenting to workshops for school personnel. 

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Rigor is a word that sends shivers through many typically because it has been misinterpreted or introduced in a manner which connects it to thoughts of more of everything. In Rigor Made Easy, Barbara addresses Myths about rigor…such as Myth#1… Lots of Homework Is a Sign of Rigor and Myth#2…Rigor Means Doing More. 

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During our talk we discuss a few of the myths as well as several key elements of Rigor Made Easy. The book is divided into seven chapters, the first one is called Understanding Rigor and the other six are:

2. Raise the level of Content

3. Increase Complexity

4. Give appropriate Support and Guidance

5. Open Your Focus

6. Raise Expectations

7. Challenges and Adventures

Barbara’s writing style is easy to read and understand. You will find yourself ready to reassess your lesson plans so that you can address her thoughts about Rigor in your classroom and school, tomorrow.

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This is an awesome discussion that lends itself to helping kids get to greater understanding of content and learning processes.

Check out the links below to find out more about Barbara and to connect with her:

Website-    http://www.barbarablackburnonline.com/

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/BarbaraRBlackburn

Pinterest-  https://www.pinterest.com/barbblackburn/

Blog-           http://rigorineducation.blogspot.com/

Twitter-      https://twitter.com/BarbBlackburn

YouTube-   https://youtu.be/4LZ6na9V1Wc

Or simply call… (609) 474-4677

Enjoy!

Length: 60 minutes

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Episode 47: Talking Education With Ron Walker

February 25, 2015

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Ron has been an educator for over39 years. He has been a teacher, administrator, and consultant. He is the president of Walker Educational Consulting and is also the director/operator of the SAGE Academy in Gainesville, GA (A school that targets the needs of at risk children).

I’ll never forget the first time I met Ron…I was the new principal of a high poverty, high risk high school. He had been hired as an educational consultant. He told the faculty what they needed to hear not what they wanted to hear. He is always like that, but not just with teachers and administrators. With the political arena he pulls no punches, as well.

He has a heart for working with the most challenging kids and schools. He is a master of connecting the dots and helping teachers be successful. He pushes all to do their best and to do what is right.

Listen to him talk about what he sees as the real power of change that educators can make.

He is a wealth of information and he will make you think about why you do what you do.

His small private school, The SAGE Academy, is funded completely through his ventures.

Contact Ron on Facebook at SAGE-Academy

or 

contact him through his email address

ronwalker62@aol.com

 

Enjoy!

Length: 48:31

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Episode 45: Laura Robb-Vocabulary is Comprehension

February 2, 2015

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Today I am talking with Laura Robb. She is a teacher, speaker, author, and coach.

She has taught for over 43 years and continues to teach each year in middle grades classrooms.

She has published 18 books primarily focused on reading, writing, and comprehension.

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You will often find her speaking across the country and working with classroom teachers to learn how to address the needs of kids in reading, writing and text comprehension.

Laura is concerned about teachers who are “stressed out” with attempts to measure classroom success by using standardized, high stakes tests. The money and time that is spent on these tests could be better spent on training teachers to use better instructional practices.

Laura says, “One of the joys of teaching is that every child is unique.”

Our talk is primarily focused on one of her most recent works, “Vocabulary is Comprehension: Getting to the Root of Text Complexity”.

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This work is filled with understandable lessons on how to connect vocabulary building and development with complex text comprehension.

Any teacher could easily take this book read sections and immediately begin to use its lessons in her plans for the week.

Some instructional works are cumbersome with their own language and information. The teacher would need a translator first before even getting close to thinking about using the information…not this book! It is easy to understand and use!

Take a look at her Big 10 and then turn to any of the lessons associated with them and you will be able to start making a difference in a child’s understanding of the text and content.

I strongly encourage you to take this information to heart and to use her book to help change your lessons to help the kids “get it!”

By the way…also, check out her foundation. She and her son are focused on getting books into the hands of children with none.

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Enjoy!!!

 

www.LRobb.com

www.e2efoundation.org

Vocabulary is Comprehension

www.teacher.scholastic.com/products/classroombooks/laurarobb

www.twitter.com/LRobbTeacher

www.facebook.com/laura.robb.372

www.middleweb.com

Length: 1:00:19

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Episode 32: Planning-A Key to Better Teaching

September 8, 2014

Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

This is so true in every facet of our lives and especially in the world of teaching. 

Too often colleagues will act as if no planning is necessary. They will fly by the seat of their pants…...doing whatever hits them at the moment. This is a terrible way to work with kids. The better teacher needs to take time to purposefully plan and the best plan is developed with the big idea in mind. 

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As Stephen Covey said, “Start with the end in mind.” What is it that you want the kids to know? To get to this takes time to develop unit plans that are used to guide the teacher in working with the kids. These plans should contain at least the following six elements:

1.     Essential Question (What is the point/purpose of this unit?)

2.     Content Vocabulary (What words are necessary for understanding the subject?)

3.     Formative Assessment (How do you know that the kids understand or get it?)

4.     Engagement (What activities will you use to engage the kids in the lessons?)

5.     Connections (How will you connect the topic to the real world?)

6.     Use of Time (Are there any special considerations?)

It takes time to create lessons that engage kids and move them to learn and grow academically. The better teacher understands that planning and preparing leads to success in the classroom. 

Bear Bryant once said, “It’s not the will to win that matters-everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”

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Some excellent resources for developing plans and understanding why you should plan with the end in mind have been developed by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe in Understanding By Design and Essential Questions.

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       (Grant Wiggins           and                   Jay McTighe)

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Here is a link to an overview of UbD at grantwiggins.org

Here is a link to an overview of UbD at JayMctighe.com

Here are links to YouTube clips of Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe explaining Understanding By Design.

Here is a link to the excerpt from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Example of a Frayer Model for learning words...

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Example of a Unit Plan

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Time to start planning…

Enjoy!

Length 35:09

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