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Episode 009: Interview with Andrew Rose

Andrew Rose in an ELL Instructional Facilitator in the OKCPS district with a background as a high school World History and English teacher. He works with teachers in specific schools through professional development and in Professional Learning Communities on ways to support English Language Learners.

For my interview with Andrew, we spoke specifically about Newcomers. Newcomers are English Language Learners (ELL) who have recently arrived to the United States. They may be in Kindergarten or 10th grade. The focus on teaching Newcomers has become an education hot topic – so much so the US government has created a resource for teachers to guide them through meeting the needs of students who fall into this category. Check it out here – Newcomers Toolkit.

Below are the questions I prepared to ask Andrew (there were some follow up questions in the podcast that are not included below):

  1. Share about your background/experience in education.
  2. Explain the work you do for OKCPS.
  3. When are students considered a newcomer and what does that term mean?
  4. What is the difference between the classification of a newcomer and the umbrella category of English language learning student?
  5. Why is it important for teachers to understand this difference? Should it impact the teaching strategies that they use?
  6. What are the main obstacles teachers come across when teaching students considered to be newcomers?
  7. What are the main struggles for students who are considered newcomers?
  8. What interventions are most effective for teachers to use when working with students considered to be newcomers?
  9. What recommendations do you have for teachers working with parents of newcomers?
  10. What are some resources that you direct teachers to?
  11. What other advice do you have for teachers?

Design Tunnel

I’m so excited to announce that we are now recording at Design Tunnel studio in downtown OKC. Design Tunnel is a marketing and video production company. You can check out their website or connect with them on Twitter @DesignTunnel_OK and FacebookDT logo

DT Pic

First interview at Design Tunnel with Alberto Jiménez Hidalgo. Talking about technology in the Early Childhood Classroom.

Episode 008: Interview with April Mickelson


April Mickelson is a remedial specialist at Jackson Enterprise in Oklahoma City Public Schools. She started out as a kindergarten teacher (which is my favorite grade too) and now as a remedial specialist she serves her school as a reading interventions, lead professional development facilitator and a literacy coach.

The Balanced Literacy approach has 8 components: read aloud, guided reading, shared reading, interactive writing, shared writing, Reading Workshop, Writing Workshop and Word study. Balanced Literacy combines the ideas behind whole language and phonics programs. This approach to literacy allows the ELA teacher to look at the big picture of teaching reading and language arts.

Below are the questions I prepared to ask April (there were some follow up questions in the podcast that are not included below):

  1. Share about your education background/experience.
  2. What is the Balanced Literacy approach?
  3. What are the main components of Balanced Literacy?
  4. Why is the Balanced Literacy approach superior to other literacy programs?
  5. Describe a Balanced Literacy lesson.
  6. What would the lesson plan need to have in it? i.e., what would need to be different about lesson planning for a Balanced Literacy approach has opposed to other lesson plans?
  7. What are mini-lessons? What should be included in a mini-lesson?
  8. When you enter into a classroom, what do you look for in a classroom using a Balanced Literacy approach?
  9. What are the practical steps for teachers who need to being implementing a Balanced Literacy approach?
  10. What advice would you give teachers who are on the fence about implementing a Balanced Literacy approach?
  11. What are your go to resources for Balanced Literacy?

Episode 007: Interview with Brandi Sickler

Brandi Sickler is one of my favorite people. I could have interviewed her about anything! She is a kindergarten teacher at Tulakes Elementary in Putnam City Schools. Brandi has taught in early childhood classrooms for 11 years, has her masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), and runs a blog called Teach.Empower.Kinder. You can find her on Twitter @brandi_sickler and on Facebook.

For this interview we focused on Brandi’s passion for Flexible Seating (linked is her blog post that includes pictures of her classroom). Flexible Seating has recently taken off in classrooms from PK to twelfth grade. I love the idea of having a relaxing and open classroom. In this episode, Brandi talks me through how she finally took the plunge and gives her practical advice to teachers considering a change in their classroom set-up.

Below are the questions I prepared to ask Brandi (there were some follow up questions in the podcast that are not included below):

  1. Tell us about your teaching history/ educational experience.
  2. What gave you the idea to start flexible seating in your classroom?
  3. How did you get started?
  4. What types of flexible seating do you provide in your classroom?
  5. What materials and supplies do you provide to your students that support flexible seating?
  6. How have your parents responded to flexible seating in your classroom? Students?
  7. Have you noticed changes in student engagement? Achievement?
  8. What advice would you give other teachers interested in making the change to flexible seating?

Episode 006: OklaSaid Collaboration

This week’s episode has a bit of a different format. OklaSaid is a weekly podcast that reviews and discusses the #oklaed twitter chat. Each week the hosts, Erin Barnes @ebarnes73 and Scott Haselwood @TeachFromHere, interview the moderators of the #oklaed chat and then break down the conversation surrounding each question. You can find out more information about OklaSaid at their website or on Twitter @OklaSaid.

April 15, Kristin Atchley and I moderated the #oklaed chat and so today we are combining our podcasts which will include an interview with me and Kristin about our topic for the #oklaed chat.

Kristin is the executive director of counseling at the Oklahoma State Department of Education. I have followed her on twitter for some time now and we recently met when we figured out we were at the same conference. The Raising Resilient Oklahomans conference was put on by Ok 25 by 25 and discussed the capacity of building resilience to counteract the impact childhood trauma.

Below are the questions Kristin and I prepared for the #oklaed chat on April 15, 2018:

  1. What is your professional experience with ACEs?
  2. What behaviors do you see from children who have high ACE scores? How can you tell a students is in “fight, flight, or freeze” and is unable to process new concepts/learn?
  3. What classroom/school practices do you have in place to develop your students’ prefrontal cortex?
  4. What classroom school practices do you have in place to build connection with and between your students?
  5. What strategies are you using that involve the whole family? Does your school provide any wrap-around services to families?
  6. What would happen to the overall mission of your work if ACEs were radically reduced in the population as a whole? What does a low-ACEs culture look like?
  7. What makes you a resilient person? How can that help your students?
  8. What classroom/school practices are you using or would like to use to build student resilience?
  9. What training/PD do you need in your teaching practice to effectively respond to students in a trauma sensitive manner?
  10. Retweet a post from this chat to share a trauma-informed practice you would like to implement in your classroom/school?

Episode 005: Interview with Carri Hicks

Carri Hicks is an Oklahoma educator that is running for office. She started her campaign almost a year ago by promoting awareness for the issues most important to her and door-to-door campaigning. I met Carri when she began her teaching career atCH 1 Tulakes Elementary, she now teaches at Grove Valley in Deer Creek Public Schools. You can find more information about Carri and her campaign for Senate District here or on Facebook.

I wanted to interview Carri about her experiences as a teacher and a candidate for office, especially when considering our current political climate and the fact that we are in the midst of a teacher walkout in the state of Oklahoma. Yesterday, the first day of candidate filing, saw record numbers of individual filling for office. Our state may be at a tipping point for change or it may maintain the status quo. It is an exciting time to be in Oklahoma.

Below are the questions I prepared to ask Carri (there were some follow up questions in the podcast that are not included below):

  1. Tell us about your experience in education?
  2. What made you decide to run for office?
  3. What is the platform you are running on?
  4. How has your experiences as an education and as a mom helped you to define your platform?
  5. Why is it important for educators to run for office? Why is it important for more women to run for office?
  6. What do you think prohibits educators/women from running for office?
  7. What has been your biggest struggles/hurdles to running for office?
  8. How has the Oklahoma teacher walkout impacted your campaign?
  9. What steps do you think our legislators need to take to move our state forward? With what has happened in the month of April, what are your thoughts on change in our state?
  10. What advice do you have for people considering running for office?

Episode 004: Interview with Jamie Gibbons

The Teacher Walkout! April 2, 2018 has come and gone and educators across the state of Oklahoma are in Day 5 of the teacher walkout. So much has happened and while I wasn’t planning on releasing an episode of Passing Notes this week, I felt like I needed to. So, I sat down and interviewed Jamie Gibbons, an OKCPS teacher about her reflections on what has happened and the work that still needs to be done.

Share your thoughts and reflections from this week in the comments section.