Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels,
each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels,
and each student demonstrates learning at high levels (Blackburn, 2008).

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Summer is Almost Here!!

It's that time of the year again.  The year is winding down, and students will soon be gone unless you teach in a year-round school.  For me, it's my busy season.  I'll be traveling the whole summer, working with schools and districts on their professional development.  I'll post periodically, but not regularly until the year starts back.  Have a restful and reflective summer. Please remember to check in on my new radio show, WRGR:  Rigor Made Easy throughout the summer.  It will include topics such as:

Rigor for Students with Special Needs
Rigor in the Kindergarten Classroom
A Superintendent's Perspective of Rigor
Rigor in the Spanish and ELL Classroom
Facilitating Rigor in the Classroom
Rigor in the Science and Math Classroom
Rigor from a School Counselor's Perspective
....and more!!!!

 You can listen online or subscribe through ITunes.  Enjoy! Barbara

Monday, June 1, 2015

Summer Professional Development!

For many educators, summer is the perfect time to focus on professional learning.  Taking ownership of your professional learning through meaningful learning opportunities is exactly what the team at BAM Radio Network has available for you through their new summer learning series.   BAM Radio is the largest education radio network in the world offering programming from the nation’s top education organizations and thought leaders and reaching a wide audience of people passionately committed to quality education.

In addition to my show, Rigor Made Easy, which is about getting to the core of what rigor is and what it isn’t and how it can be implemented in the classroom, they have a group of new programs the span the educational spectrum.  As of now, these shows include:
  • HookED, with educators Matt Miller and Jed Dearybury, who connect with educators who are truly engaging their students and getting them
  • Teachers of the Year Radio is hosted by teachers of the year themselves. Gary Abud and Steve Perkins share ten minutes each week with some of the country’s best educators, learning about the latest and greatest in teaching, leading, and learning.
  • The Maker Movement is the focus of Movers and Makers, hosted by author/educator Laura Fleming and her co-host, educator Travis Lape.
  • Author and education consultant Rae Pica hosts Studentricity, offering strategies for teaching with students at the center.
  • Ed.Got Game! has been launched with new hosts teacher/author Matthew Farber and game-based learning teacher Michael Matera, who bring gaming to the classroom with intriguing guests.
  • EdChat New Zealand, connecting New Zealand educators with host connected educator Danielle Myburgh.
  • Gwen Pescatore and Lisa Davis, parent leaders, who shed light in learning from the parent’s side of education in ParentED.
  • Elissa Malespina and Shannon McClintock Miller are teacher-librarians who go Beyond Books, transforming teaching and learning.
You can also earn a badge through Laura Fleming's page for any of the shows.  I hope you'll take this opportunity to gain new knowledge through these shows.  Enjoy!  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What is #Rigor?

I'm very excited to announce that I am now hosting a radio show for BAM Radio Network on rigor.  There will be a new one every other week, and topics include Rigor for Students with Special Needs, Rigor in the Band Classroom, Rigor for Gifted Students, etc.  First up, What is rigor?  What is it NOT?  Join me as I interview Dr. Abbigail Armstrong from Winthrop University for an 8 minute talk on rigor.  And please provide feedback for me here in the comments.  Thank you!  Barbara

Monday, May 25, 2015

Keeping a List of Successes

Do you keep a list of successes?  Earlier I recommended that you reflect on success as part of your reflection for the year, but today I want to focus on this one point.  My first couple of years, I waited until the end of the year to to write them down.  The problem was, I forgot a lot of them, especially
the small successes.  It's important to remember all on them, including those that are tiny, but make a difference.  For example, I forgot to write down that Ronnie actually smiled when I helped him read the driver's manual.  And I didn't remember that Susanna fussed, but was then appreciative when I referred her to the counselor because of family issues.  Finally, I always forgot that look in a student's eye the first time they "got it".  I almost took them for granted. 

But we need to track all our successes, or we do forget them.  And then, we begin to think we don't make a difference.  I learned to keep a success journal, which allowed me to reflect on things I did, things my students did, and comments or quotes I liked to keep.  You can get my blank success journal here (scroll down).  

Tracking your successes helps you remember something very important:  You make a difference everyday--even when you don't feel like it, especially when you don't feel like it!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Getting Organized this Summer

Today's post is again from Dr. Frank Buck, author of Get Organized!, due out early fall from Routledge (links at the bottom of the post).  This one is on using the summer to organize all your information.  When I read the draft of his book, I immediately thought, "I need to do that!"  I think you'll respond the same way.

Your Summer Project: “Develop an Elephant-Like Memory”

They say elephants never forget. What if you could have one with you at all times and let it be in charge of remembering all of the reference information in your life?
  • ·      Your airline frequent-flyer numbers, hotel rewards numbers, the code for the copying machine, and the size of the air filter you need for your home, just to name a few.
  • ·      Details from important conversations, information from the faculty meeting, and the good ideas from that workshop.
  • ·      Supporting information for your current projects.
  • ·      Articles from the Internet which seem to be of lasting value.
  • ·      Checklists for preparing for field trips, your own vacation, or tasks to perform at the end of each grading period.
  • ·      Notes from doctor visits for yourself or your children.

Trying to remember it all is enough to give you an elephant-sized headache. Writing it on sticky notes is no solution. The truth is most people don’t have a good system for keeping up with the information
in their lives. If this scenario sounds like you, help is on the way. You can have it today and have it for free. The answer is Evernote.

Why Now?
Teachers are busy people. While we look for ways to take our game to the next level, we often lack the time to learn the tools which will help us do it. In this profession, summer offers the largest block of discretionary time we will ever have. Summer presents the opportunity to invest time in a project that will pay dividends later.

Why Evernote?
We rely heavily on our mobile devices. The perfect warehouse for our reference information is one that we can access from our phone or tablet. Furthermore, we need to be able to edit and create new information on the go.

Secondly, our mobile devices have terrible file structures. They don’t provide the hierarchy of folders within folders we are used to on our computers. Evernote, with its system of notebooks, provides the much-needed file structure.

Let’s Get Started
If you are convinced that Evernote is worth a try, you can get up and going in minutes:
  1. Create a free account at Evernote.com.
  2. While at the Evernote website, look for a link to “Download.” What you are downloading is the desktop client. Your Evernote information will be physically stored on your computer via the desktop. The desktop client will automatically sync to your Evernote account in the cloud.
  3. Look for a link to download the “Web Clipper.” To find the link, you may need to perform an Internet search for “Evernote Web Clipper.”
  4. On your other computers (school, home, laptop), log into your account at Evernote.com and download the Evernote desktop client. Depending on your browser, you may need to download and install the web clipper.
  5. On your mobile devices, download Evernote from wherever you download apps for those devices.
  6. Watch this less-than-a-minute overview of Evernote.
  7. Watch this 6-minute video where a teacher shows how she uses Evernote. She even shows use of the Web Clipper. Note that the appearance of technology tools changes over time. Her Web Clipper will look a little different than yours.

Create Some Notebooks
The 6-minute video you just watched showed some of the notebooks one educator has constructed. I suggest you read this blog post. There, I talk about the notebooks I use. Don’t worry about getting your notebook structure perfect at first. You can always create a new notebook at any time. Moving a note from one notebook to another is also easy. Much like learning to ride a bicycle, you get on and ride. You get better as you work with it.

A Glimpse at the Possibilities
1.     Forward emails to Evernote. Suppose you have an Evernote notebook devoted to a particular project. As you receive emails related to that project, wouldn’t it be great if you could forward a copy of them to that Evernote notebook. Evernote gives you a special email address. Go to your Contacts and create a new entry. Call it “Evernote,” and paste that special email address. Anytime you receive an email which you want to store in Evernote, simply click “Forward,” choose “Evernote,” and send.
2.     Send emails from Evernote. You can right-click any note and choose to share it via email with anyone you like.
3.     Share a note. Right-click and copy the link. Every note has its own URL. Sending that URL to someone else allows them to view your note. If you make changes to your note, the same URL allows the person to see the most recent version.
4.     Save photos, voice, and notes together. Imagine a 1st grade teacher who wants to record a student reading a short passage. She also wants to include a photo and add her own typed comments about the student’s progress. Evernote allows all three types of data to be included in a single note.
5.     Keep lesson plans. In this post, I talk about how you could keep lesson plans in Evernote and be able to access them from anywhere.

Make Your Summer Count
How would you feel if you could access instantly and edit easily the reference information that is important to you, and do it from anywhere? How much time could you save if your information was in one, searchable location? How will others view you when you seem to be able to put your fingers on needed information instantly?

Perhaps you have found yourself exclaiming, “I’ve got to get organized!” With Evernote, you will have the tool. With the summer approaching, you will have the time. Make your summer count.

Frank Buck served as a middle-level band director, principal, and central office administrator during a career of almost 30 years. He now speaks and writes on the subject of organization and time management. He is the author of Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders and Organization Made Easy!: Tools for Today’s Teachers, both published by Routledge. You can read more of Dr. Buck’s work at FrankBuck.org.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Reflecting on the Year: Four Questions

As the school year is winding down, take some time to reflect.  It's easy to forget this, because there are so many tasks to do now, but I found this was important.  We need to ask ourselves four questions:
1.  What worked?
2.  What do I want to change next year?
3.  What were my successes with students (nothing is too small)?
4.  What do I want to do to prepare for next year? 

If you take the time to answer these questions now, it will prepare you for next year.  In August, pull them back out and use them to start your year!