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 43: Learning in the Fast Lane with Suzy Pepper Rollins

January 15, 2015

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Suzy is a math and literacy consultant.

She is mostly known by math teachers for her awesome course called Math in the Fast Lane.  


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She also was my first guest to be interviewed so check out Episode 2: Math in the Fast Lane with Suzy Pepper Rollins.

Suzy is now a published author and wow did she do it right!

Her book, Learning in the Fast Lane: 8 Ways to Put All Students on the Road to Academic Success is an ASCD hit!

Her 8 ways are …

1.     Acceleration: Jump Starting Students Who Are Behind

2.     Standards Walls: Transforming Standards into Clear Learning Goals

3.     Success Starters: Sparking Student Success Right Away

4.     Formative Assessment and Feedback: Checking Student Understanding Minute by Minute

5.     Vocabulary Development: Implementing a Strategic Plan

6.     Student Work Sessions: Giving Students Greater Responsibility With Valuable Work

7.     Student Motivation: Creating Engaging Tasks and a Positive Learning Environment

8.     Scaffolding: Providing What’s Missing Just in Time

Her last chapter … 9 is titled Why Are Some Students Still Failing, and What Can We Do About It?

We talk about her path to being a published author and then get into some of the specific details of the book.

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Her book is right on the money for being a treasure chest of tools that can be put to use immediately in a classroom. It doesn't require a lengthy book study, on-line course or 1000's of dollars. She cuts through the education jargon and makes it easy to understand what the research says that we should be doing!

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There is so much to learn from Suzy and her book!

One caution… If you read this book you will be excited about seeing the change in your students’ success!

You can contact Suzy at

suzypepp@yahoo.com

or 

(404)399-6760

Enjoy!

Additional Links:

Chapter 1: Acceleration

A blog summation of What the Writer Learned Listening to a Webinar with Suzy about Learning in the Fast Lane

Length 53:05

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Episode 42: First Year Teaching with Mrs. Melanie Knight

January 8, 2015

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Mrs. Melanie Knight is a first year middle school teacher at Wheeler County Middle School, in Alamo, Georgia. She is a graduate of Brewton Parker College’s education program and teaching is in her family tree. She is the daughter of teachers; her father was also a superintendent of Wheeler County Schools as well as her grandfather.


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As of the interview, Mrs. Knight is in the middle of her first year of teaching.  She uses many instructional strategies, small groups, individual practice, integrated technology, word walls, and other techniques to help the kids get the content. When I asked her where she learned to use these she credited other staff in her school as important mentors.


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I had the great fortune of watching her teach. Not only does she have good command of many strong instructional strategies but she also emphasizes a need to develop the students’ understanding of content and academic vocabulary. She uses TIPS (Terms Information Pictures and Sentences)…this is an adaption of something she learned from Learning in the Fast Lane by Suzy Pepper Rollins and what she has been taught by other staff members to develop the students’ understanding of vocabulary. 


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Mrs. Knight emphasizes the need to create engagement. It is quite noticeable as the kids are up and working and part of the class. They are not passive, but active.


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 She also has developed an excellent rapport with the kids. She commented, “I’m strict but friendly.” When you walk in her class you are automatically aware that it is a bright and cheerful place to be. She noted, “I use bright colors to help me create a welcoming classroom.”


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When I asked her what has been most helpful for her during her first year in teaching she responded, “Help and support from the school staff and family members.” She continued, “It is helpful to have someone to talk to…to talk things out.”


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She is a big fan of Pinterest and finds that the social media tool is a great help for getting ideas and support for working with the kids.


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I asked her what advice she would give to someone who is getting ready to find their first teaching position and she replied, “Be open to new ideas…Be open to learning…learn from everyone around you.”


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Mrs. Knight’s energy and focus on the kids is wonderful!

Enjoy!

Length 29:28

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