From the Desk of Kelly Harmon

December 2016 Newsletter

Dear Educator,

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays! Can you believe it is already that time of year again? With only a few weeks to go until winter break, excitement is in the air! Take advantage of all that energy and excitement and incorporate the holiday festivities into your instruction. This month we have included holiday classroom ideas, writing learning target guidance, and much more!

Happy Teaching!

-Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson

Holiday Fun for Reading & Writing!

The holidays are a great time to capitalize on student energy with engaging activities that get them thinking and having fun at the same time!


Holiday Readers Theaters

The holidays are a great time for students to act out plays while practicing fluency! Create your own readers theater scripts from your favorite holiday books or use these free ones!

Holiday Book Clubs or Literature Circles

Incorporate holiday texts into your book club or literature circle text choices. Check out this fun article on the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree!

Holiday Book Flood

Head down to your school or local library and check out holiday books to introduce your students to celebrations around the world! Incorporate learning about cultural celebrations, along with holiday cookbooks to give students a variety of texts and structures to read. Display the books in an appealing way (think Barnes and Nobel) to get kids excited about reading the texts.

Reading to Younger Students as an Act of Kindness

Invite younger students into your classroom for partner reading time! Read holiday books together and share different holiday traditions. It is also fun to put on a holiday readers theater show for other classes as well!


Holiday Recipes

Nothing says the holidays like yummy food! Have students prepare a recipe from their family or culture to share with the class. You could even have a cooking show in your classroom to share all the recipes!

Expository Writing: Family Traditions

December is a great time to get students writing to explain how their family spends the holiday break! This will allow others to get a glimpse of everyone's traditions and cultural celebrations. Also, consider having students write to describe the best gift they ever gave or received.

Holiday Book Talks

After your holiday book flood, have students write a book talk or commercial to share with others. Publish them in a podcast or over the morning announcements! This is a great way to get students interested in reading different books.

Christmas Cards

Who doesn't love getting a Christmas card in the mail. Students can create Christmas cards, postcards, yearly letters, etc. to send out to family and friends. Take it a step further by creating a Shadow Puppet show (with the Shadow Puppets App) wishing family and friends a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays!

Learning Targets for Writing

Writing is a macro-process that must be chunked into digestible learning sequence. Writing demands that the writer make a series of complex decisions about the message and information to provide for the specific audience. In order to develop writing proficiency, instruction must be carefully planned.

This writing learning targets resource will help you as you plan a unit of study for writing. Notice how the learning targets reflect a part of the standard and build towards mastery of the standard. Be sure to check your grade level standards to ensure you are using the targets that relate to grade level expectations.


· I can plan a first draft.

· I can select a genre for conveying my message.

· I can identify several brainstorm strategies topics related to the purpose of the essay.

· I can brainstorm topics for my essay.

· I can select a topic for my essay.

· I can choose a strategy for brainstorming ideas that relate to the writing purpose.

· I can make connections between a writing prompt and my own original ideas that focus the essay and clearly connect to the writing task.


· I can create a graphic organizer that shows a clear plan for sequencing key ideas.

· I can generate and write an original central idea in a topic sentence that clearly communicates a message related to the writing prompt.

· I can categorize ideas into paragraphs.

· I can organize the flow of paragraphs in an essay.

· I can create transitions between the paragraphs.

· I can explain how transitions show relationships between ideas.

· I can select an introduction strategy and write an effective introduction.

· I can identify strategies for concluding an expository essay.

· I can write supporting sentences with simple facts, details, and explanations that are clearly connected.

· I can select a strategy and write a concluding statement.

· I can revise drafts for coherence, organization.

Check out our learning targets for genres of writing HERE!

Ryan Doetch's RTI Reading Resources!

Check out Ryan Doetch, an award winning educator and national presenter, and his website full of information and resources on almost every topic in education!

We especially LOVE his RTI Resources for Reading page. Click here to visit! You will find resources for decoding, goal setting, Guided Reading Strategies and much more! Best of all, it's FREE!

Habits of the Mind: Thinking About Your Thinking

The Art of Metacognition

Thinking about your thinking is a critical skill that students need to see modeled, discussed, and practiced. Being aware of your own thoughts, feelings, and actions and the effects on others is important to being a problem solver and compassionate citizen. This habit is also known as "knowing about knowing".

I have used Art Costa's "Habits of Mind" as a springboard for discussion.

Using children's literature or novel studies, we can help students identify with characters who demonstrate examples and non-examples of positive academic behaviors. Below are a few books you can read and discuss during the next few weeks of school.


January 9, 2016 - Essentials for Achieving Rigor: Core Instruction

In Core Instruction, teachers will learn to construct and implement instructional strategies that help students build foundations when learning new grade-level specific TEKS content.

January 10, 2016- Essentials for Achieving Rigor: Deepen Core Instruction

In Deepening Core Instruction, teachers will learn to construct and implement research-based instructional strategies that support students as they expand, apply, and deepen their understanding of the TEKS student expectations.

February 15, 2016- Essentials for Achieving Rigor: Learning Targets and Measures

In Learning for Targets and Measures, teachers will learn to construct and implement rigorous TEKS-based learning goals and performance scales that not only help students understand what they are learning but also drive instructional decisions.

February 16, 2016 - Essentials for Achieving Rigor: Facilitating Complex Learning

In Facilitating Complex Learning, teachers will learn to construct and implement research-based instructional strategies that ask students to utilize the knowledge and skills they learn. Highly effective strategies will be modeled and recommended for use when facilitating students as they engage in cognitively complex tasks.

All sessions are offered at Education Service Center, Region 20.

Kelly Harmon & Associates, LLC

Kelly Harmon & Associates began in 2001 with a mission of instructional coaching and providing rich literacy resources for educators and parents. Our work incorporates research-based best practices for teaching and learning. Our services are professional development, curriculum development, instructional coaching, grant writing, project management, and technology integration.