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).

Monday, September 29, 2014

Upcoming Webinar on #Rigor

On Thursday, October 9 from 4-5 pm I'll be doing a weimar on Rigor is NOT a Four Letter Word:  Quick and Easy Strategies for Increasing Rigor in the Classroom.  Sponsored by Interactive Achievement, it's free!  I'd love to "see" you there--register here.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Effective Praise: What does it look like?

Last week, I talked about the importance of positive language for students.  But what does effective praise look like?  First, praise should be personally meaningful to the student; it should be tied to something the student cares about. Next, it’s important to be respectful of the individual. Some students do not like to be singled out in front of their peers. If you know that, find another way to praise them: a note, an individual comment, or even a look. As Suzanne Okey explains, “some students will appear not to respond positively to praise, then it’s necessary to figure out way to deliver praise in a meaningful way to the student; give them a way to save face. In Chinese culture, saving face and losing face are huge concepts; it’s big in our culture, too.”

Third, praise must be authentic, or you devalue the student. If you praise Shanta when she doesn’t deserve it, she’ll know it, and so will everyone else. If you think you can’t find anything positive to say about David, you’re not looking hard enough. Suzanne continues, “Take a correct thought, and validate that, then restate it, so he/she hears it correctly. That’s what we do with students all the time; find the kernel that we can validate, then extend it; students find that very encouraging; and it creates risk-takers.”

Praise also should be immediate or reasonably soon after the action being praised. If you wait two days to tell Jeremy that you are proud of him for raising his hand instead of yelling out in class, it loses its effect. Fifth, praise should be specific. Suzanne also points out, “‘Good job’ isn’t specific. Some of our students don’t know what they did that was good. They have to know what they did right; sometimes they have to know how what they did was different from what they have done before.” Finally, praise should encourage the student to build on success. You want to help the student continue to move forward, and praise can be one tool to help accomplish that goal. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Rigor and the Common Core State Standards


Here's a quick three minute video on Rigor and the Common Core.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Achievement is More than a Test Score

In case you missed it, here's a column I wrote for teachers.net about my view of student success.  Here's the beginning:

In today’s age of accountability, where success is defined as a score on a standardized test, the notion of achievement as any more than a test score can be perceived as blasphemous. Accountability is not completely a bad thing. I’ve seen positives come out of increased accountability, such as ensuring that all students know the standards. But the notion that a score on one test given at one time should be the only measure of whether or not someone is successful just isn’t right.

Here's the rest!

Three Tips for Effective Grading

My newest article has posted over at Middleweb.  Click here to read it!

Grading was something I struggled with as a teacher. But I’ve learned there are several characteristics that can help assure we have a fair and well-thought-out grading system that supports rigor in our classrooms.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Tips and Tricks for Teachers (2 minute read)


I ran across this page and thought the ideas were terrific--not just for elementary teachers. Well worth the two minutes it will take you to read it.  For example:

5. Twitter Exit Ticket

Are your students using Twitter? If so, infuse Twitter into the classroom by incorporating “tweets” into your exit ticket routine. Their ticket out the door is to “Tweet” or comment about a topic discussed in class.
This example is made from white paper strips which were laminated and written on with marker.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Expectations!

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them become what they are capable of becoming.-Goeth

Monday, September 8, 2014

Success is MORE Than a Test Score

In today’s age of accountability, where success is defined as a score on a standardized test, the notion of achievement as any more than a test score can be perceived as blasphemous. Accountability is not completely a bad thing. I’ve seen positives come out of increased accountability, such as ensuring that all students know the standards. But the notion that a score on one test given at one time should be the only measure of whether or not someone is successful just isn’t right.
Take a broader view of success. Celebrate every student success, not just the scores on benchmark testing. What “counts” in your classroom? Define your view of success, and share it with your students and their families. Post it in your room, send it home in a parent newsletter, and make it a visible reminder of what you and your classroom are about. In a discussion related to test scores, a parent asked me how I would define achievement. I explained that achievement simply your view of success. And for me, success is broader than a test score—it’s about every student:
S Showcasing the
U Unique

C Competency and
C Capabilities of
E Every

S Single
S Student



Thursday, September 4, 2014

Goals for the New Year

What goals are you reaching for today as the school year starts?
Think about that for a minute.  What are your personal goals?  Professional goals? Instructional goals?  Student goals?  Jot them down, and revisit them periodically.  They'll help keep you focused and motivated!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

5 Tools for Increasing Rigor

My newest podcast from School Leadership Briefing is out!

Description:
All school leaders understand the importance of increasing rigor in their schools, but what does making classrooms more rigorous really mean? Rigor is not about giving students more work, according to Barbara Blackburn, but means having high expectations for all students and providing support as teachers challenge students to think in more complex ways. Dr. Blackburn is the author of Rigor in Your Classroom: A Toolkit for Teachers and one of the country’s leading authorities on the topic of rigor and student motivation. In this segment, she provides five tools for school leaders to share with their teachers or look for when doing class observations.

To listen, click here.