From the Desk of Kelly Harmon

May 2017 Newsletter

Dear Teaching Friends,

Happy May! Can you believe it is already time to wind down the year? This month we are bringing you ideas for shared reading, literature circles, and teaching students about taking responsible risks!

Also be sure to check out our summer learning opportunities happening in Florida and Texas. Happy Teaching!

-Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson

Shared Reading In the Balanced Literacy Classroom

Shared reading is a dynamic practicing strategy for all students learning how to understand the meanings of texts. In using short texts that can be read in five to ten minute practice sessions, teachers can read with students to scaffold practice in thinking within, beyond, and about a text.

This guided practice technique helps readers understand and apply good reader thinking and fluent, meaning-making reading. The teacher's role is to model and closely monitor student thinking and oral reading. Teachers should gradually release the thinking to students as they practice the mental processes for efficient reading. Texts should be read several times for specific purposes.

The schedule of purposeful shared reading might look like this:

Day 1: Predict and read for the gist. The focus this day is thinking beyond a text by making predictions using the title and illustrations and confirming or identifying misconceptions as they read. Students will also practice thinking within the text by summarizing important parts of the text during and after reading.

To read more, click here!

Fluency Techniques

Each day, fluent reading is being practiced. Here are some fluency techniques to help your students read with prosody and for meaning during your shared reading time.

Echo Reading
Echo reading is "I read to you, then you repeat read". This is an easy reading confidence builder.

Choral Reading
Choral reading is reading aloud together.

Touch Reading-This strategy is only for emergent readers. After level D, students should read with their eyes, not their fingers.
Have students touch the words on the chart paper as they choral read or echo read.

If students need word solving skills, the Guess the Covered Word technique helps students think through figuring out unknown words quickly.

Students use context clues and schema to figure out the word. Start by covering several words in the text. With your students, read up to the unknown word. Say "hum, I don't know this word. What would make sense?" Students should make predictions based on the meaning of the sentence or paragraph. Read past the unknown word to confirm meaningful predictions. Have students use the clues around the word to figure out what the word might be. Ask students to suggest words that would be appropriate and plug them in to see if they make sense.

Uncover the beginning sound or sounds of the word. Do the predictions match the letter sounds? Uncover the entire syllable or chunks of the word as you model efficient blending of the word. Discuss why the original predictions worked or didn't work. Good readers are always using meaning, syntax (grammar), and visual cues (letter patterns) to figure out unknown words.

Number Talks

From pre-kindergarten to high school, students need frequent practice using their numeracy skills to solve problems. During five-to-ten minute number talks, students solve problems using mental math strategies and explain how they arrived at a solution. This reveals so much about how they think about numbers, including whether they grasp place value and whole or fractional number concepts. Number talks should be a routine in every math classroom. Join Kelly this summer for The First 25 Days in the Math Classroom to learn more about this critical maths learning routine.

Literature Circle Fundamentals

Literature circles are meant to be a student-led way of practicing ALL essential reading skills, fluency and comprehension. Students get together to discuss the meaning of a text that they have read independently.

Here are 4 big ideas that will lead to successful literature Circles.

1. Create Excitement!
Students need to be pumped up from the start about literature circles (also known as book clubs). To create excitement, hold a voting day. First introduce every text choice available (usually 4-5 titles) with a book trailer and book talk (don’t give away the ending). Consider reading the first few paragraphs or pages to your students to see which texts "hooks" them. Students then have to vote for their top two choices on secret ballots. Tally up the votes and announce the group they “made it into” the next day!

2. Model, Model, Model
If you want success, you have to show your students what it looks like. A few weeks before starting lit circles, have students meet with you in small discussion groups. Make sure they know how to make notes or to jot their thoughts about the text. We want them to know what it means to be prepared to participate in a discussion about a text. You may want to show a quick video from Youtube of a book club or role-play lit circles with a group of kiddos. Make sure that the language you are using from your reading lessons is translated into the way students discuss texts in small discussion circles.

3. Student-Led
To insure that your literature circles go smoothly, it’s important to give students choices and responsibility. Students should lead the group and have the power to say if someone is not doing their part. (Think Survivor.) As students participate in the group meetings, they decide what a reasonable amount of reading should be done before the next meeting. They also determine the questions or ideas to discuss. Of course, you can provide suggestions, but ultimately, we want students to feel empowered as self-directed readers and thinkers.

4. Create a Space
Create a space in your classroom dedicated to materials for literature circles. You will need sets of texts that you know students will want to read. Make everything easily accessible to students. Small baskets or file folders work great!

For more information on literature circles & summer reading, attend our Literature Circles in the Balanced Literacy Classroom!

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Habits of the Mind: Taking Responsible Risks

Risk taking can be scary and exciting all at the same time. Responsible risk taking is taking an educated risk. The person has thought the risk out by evaluating the pros and cons, possible outcomes, and return on their risk investment.

Students need to discuss risk taking and what that looks like. Some students may be fearful of taking risks because they are scared to fail or step outside their comfort zone, but responsible risk taking is a valuable life skill that we must know. Students need to see how adults evaluate a situation and determine the best process for taking a responsible risk. The age old saying from Erica Jong rings true "If you don't risk anything, you risk even more."

Here are some texts to help you illustrate and spark a discussion about responsible risks.

Summer 2017 Workshop Offerings

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Strengthening Your RTI Reading Program Conference

May 18-19, 2017 - San Antonio, TX

Learn how to better lead your school or district RTI Reading team in this strategy-packed two-day conference led by nationally acclaimed presenter, Kelly Harmon. You will discover how to work with teachers to identify and implement the most effective cutting-edge, research-based instructional strategies to increase school and district wide student reading achievement. You will learn how to develop teacher expertise in working with struggling readers along with ways to continually monitor and adjust instruction based on student results. Click here for more information!

Practicing Skills, Strategies, and Processes

June 14, 2017 Orlando, Fl.

Disney's Coronado Springs Resort

Helping students take ownership and develop proficiency in critical skills, strategies, and processes is the goal of carefully planned instruction. During this highly interactive day of professional discovery, learn four key ideas for creating practice opportunities that ensure your students soar to mastery in summarizing, inferring, composing texts, solving problems, and other mental processes. Learn what brain research reveals about perfect practice and how to provide “just right” coaching and support.

Click here for more information on the Conference

Strengthening Your Title I Program Conference

August 1-2, 2017 - Arlington, TX

In this two-day intensive, you will investigate ways to ways to better lead your district or campus Title I teams! Discover how to work with teachers to identify and implement the most effective cutting-edge, research-based instructional strategies to increase school and district wide student achievement. Walk away with extended expertise in working with struggling students and ways to monitor and adjust instruction to better meet the needs of at risk learners! For more information, click here!

$399 per participant

10% Discount when you register 4 or more!

Onsite Learning Opportunities!

At Kelly Harmon & Associates, all of our seminars are available for onsite learning. Districts can customize each training to the needs of their students and staff. For more information, please contact Randi at or (817) 583-1290.