Episode 51: Rigor Made Easy with Dr. Barbara Blackburn

April 17, 2015


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.


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. 


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. 


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


Length: 60 minutes


Episode 49: Quick Tech Tip… VideoLan Media Player

March 17, 2015


On today's show, David and I talk about VLC or VideoLan.

VLC is a free-open source cross platform multimedia player that plays most multimedia files as well as DVDs, Audio CDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.
As an Open Source player it is available to users with no financial obligation... although, the producers would like you to donate to them so that they can continue to develop VLC and work on new projects.
VLC (VideoLan) has many features. Check out this list below. (By the way, Teaching Learning Leading K12 does not have a financial obligation to or an affiliation with VideoLan.) It is an amazing opensource tool that will liberate you from other players that have built in issues. 
Check it out...we use it on all of our equipment and are truly amazed at the power of this tool. 


Length: 13:36

Episode 47: Talking Education With Ron Walker

February 25, 2015


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


contact him through his email address




Length: 48:31


Episode 46: Building Relationships with Hugh Kight

February 10, 2015


Hugh Kight is the principal of East Laurens Elementary School in Laurens County, Georgia.

Laurens is Hugh’s home. He grew up here, attended school, and eventually became a teacher and principal here.

Hugh is actually retired but “Un-retired” to be the principal of East Laurens.

Between his amazing energy and contagious smile he is someone who everyone should get to know. Just spend a few minutes with him and whatever troubles you will wilt away as you will see the silver linings, feel the sunshine, and want to smile…because you know that all will be good.

Mr. Kight is always looking for methods to recognize success. He connects with kids and, staff, and the community. He wants to find unique ways of saying … “Good Work! Keep it Up!”

Hence the Falcon Fun Zone!


A place where the teachers and staff can schedule to send kids who have demonstrated hard work, success, and achievement! A place where the kids earn time to play…(check out the pics of the many games and activities)! What an amazing idea!!!


By the way, the teachers have also been able to find time to initiate the room! (And the paintings of characters on the walls were created by a staff member!)


Hugh also has his Coca-Cola Diner…It's not sponsored by the corporation…but it grew out of an idea for having a room to celebrate and connect with others. Hugh is known for his cooking skills…just ask anyone about the chicken dinners!

In this room he often feeds staff, students, families, and community members. The walls have the school’s test scores and other data to show their gains and successes. Feels like you are visiting family…

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Hugh likes to visit garage sales and flea markets…this is what led to his decorations for the room…Check out some of the really cool Coke artifacts!!!

I challenge you to think about the ways that Hugh has created to celebrate, connect, and build relationships and develop your own. It will inspire your kids to do well. It will help your staff feel valued and it will help you connect with the parents and community.


Length: 37:26


Episode 45: Laura Robb-Vocabulary is Comprehension

February 2, 2015


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”.


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.






Vocabulary is Comprehension





Length: 1:00:19