From the Desk of Kelly Harmon

March 2016 Newsletter

Dear Educators,

Hoppy March!

Thank you for joining us in this season of learning! Enjoy this month's newsletter focused on rigorous instruction and digital tools. Our summer 2016 workshops are right around the corner. Be sure to check them out and register early. Our seats are limited!

Happy Teaching!

-Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson

The Rigorous Spring Bunny

Using Youtube in the classroom is a powerful tool for student engagement and authentic instruction. I love to use Youtube with adults and students to increase the complexity of thinking in a unique way. Here is an example to use in your classroom this spring!

Use this Cadbury Bunny Tryouts commercial to practice making inferences about authors' message or viewpoint.

First, view the video without any questions. Then, replay the video and ask the questions below. It's important to let students discuss their answers with peers and see other's viewpoints.

Before Second Viewing Questions:

  1. Why are commercials produced?
  2. What does the title Cadbury Bunny Tryouts make you think of?

During Viewing Questions: (stop the video at the midpoint)

  1. What do you notice?
  2. How is the author appealing to the audience?
  3. How do you feel while watching this video?
  4. What does the creator of the video do to make you feel this way?

After Viewing Questions:

  1. What is the main message of this commercial?
  2. What does the author want the viewer to do as a result of seeing the commercial?
  3. How does the author illustrate the message?
  4. What connections can be made between other media or texts?

Teaching the thinking processes with videos before text helps students practice the steps for thinking at the analyzing or knowledge utilization level without the burden of also decoding words. We want student to develop the steps needed in the mental process of the higher order thinking skill before having to apply the thinking in complex texts. Teach the thinking process first!

Be sure to check out our YouTube channel for more links to videos that let students practice the higher level thinking.

1994 Cadbury Bunny Tryouts Commercial

Spring Playlists on YouTube

Need new songs for shared reading (aka classroom karaoke)? Here are a couple of playlists just for you.

Spring Songs

Baseball Songs

How Am I Suppose to Teach Grammar?!?

Many times during our workshops we are asked about what the best way to teach grammar and mechanics is. We all know that grammar skills are important, especially in this day and age where your grammar skills are up for the world to see on social media. So what is the best way to teach essential grammar and mechanics rules and skills in an authentic and rigorous way? Here are 3 ways to teach grammar that STICKS with students!

1. First Impressions Matter

Brain research tells us that the brain remembers things from the first time they encounter them. Students need to see the correct usage of the grammar rule the FIRST time. That is how their brain will remember it. Showing students an incorrect sentence the first day of instruction will be how students picture sentences in their brains. Show students correct examples first! Model write and show a variety of examples of the correct usage for students when introducing a rule or skill. This will be what is imprinted on the student's brain.

2. Provide Authentic Practice

Students need opportunities for real world practice. Very rarely in the real world do we sit down and correct 20 sentences full of grammar mistakes. Allow students opportunities to go on scavenger hunts to locate correct usage of a specific grammar rule. Use library books, signs in the hallways, and personal journals to locate authentic examples of grammar rules used correctly.

3. Be Intentional in Your Instruction

Grammar and mechanics doesn't have to be (or need to be) an hour lesson each day. Instruction should include a brief focus lesson explaining and demonstrating the rule with an authentic piece of writing. Students also need the opportunity to "prove" their findings. This is similar to reading instruction that involves making an inference and supporting it with evidence. Writing instruction is no different. Make students prove their answers. Get our grammar lesson planning template!

We love Gretchen Bernabei's Grammar Keepers and Linda Hoyt's Mastering the Mechanics.

Tech Tool of the Month: Kahoot

One of our favorite FREE digital tools is Kahoot. Kahoot is a great platform for creating games, quizzes, and surveys for your classroom. This tool can be used on any device and is great for use in a group setting. Educators create and students PLAY! Your students will beg you to give them a quiz!

Create a game as a formative assessment that helps students review foundational knowledge for state assessments. Teachers can download the results in a spreadsheet that details each students' answer to each question. The gaming possibilities are endless. Visit Kahoot.

2016 Workshops

Summer 2016 Workshops

Charting the Future: Building Expertise 2016 Marzano Conference

Orlando, Florida June 15-17, 2016

Witness the future of our classrooms: At Building Expertise 2016, Dr. Robert Marzano joins formative assessment expert Dr. Dylan Wiliam and educational neuroscience researcher Dr. David Sousa for keynotes and breakout sessions to introduce startling breakthroughs in classroom practice. You’ll also choose among more than 50 practical workshops, for educators at all levels, devoted to topics like school transformation, change leadership, inspirational feedback, cultivating student autonomy, building collaborative school culture, and reframing classroom instruction to inspire learning like never before. Click here for more information

Marzano's Essentials of Rigor-Save the Date! June 27-July 1, 2016

June is a great time to refuel and plan for the coming year. Education Service Center Region 20 (San Antonio) and Learning Sciences Marzano Center will host 5 Days of the Essentials of Rigor.

Plan to join us and learn the best strategies for achieving rigor in your K-12 classroom. Register for each day on the ESC 20 iLearning site. I will have more information in the April Newsletter.

Two Day Intensive Title I Leadership Institute: Strengthening Your Title I Program

Powerful Intervention Strategies to Accelerate Achievement for Struggling Students (Grades K-6)

Plan to attend as a school or district team, a representative team member or district leader to increase the effectiveness of your Title I program. You will learn how to build on the success of your current program, identify the key components that have the greatest impact on student achievement and find the specific areas you need to target for implementation and improvement. Leave equipped with a wealth of the most effective Title I instructional strategies that will help accelerate your at‑risk students’ achievement in grades K‑6

Minneapolis July 18-19, 2016

Seattle July 20-21, 2016