From The Desk of Kelly Harmon

April 2015 Newsletter

Dear Educators,

We hope that our newsletter finds you in a great place this spring! As the year is dwindling down, keep your spirits high and students engaged. Enjoy our April 2015 Newsletter full of ideas for motivating and practicing target skills and strategies. Also, check out our Summer 2015 workshops coming up in June and August. Happy teaching everyone!

-Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson

Camping Season

April is the time of year many educators are preparing "camps" for their students to practice and strengthen skills and strategies needed for end of year testing and the next grade level. Camps are a great way for students to have fun and practice the skills they have learned during the year. Just hearing the word "camp" gets students excited. Theme-based camps help motivate students to keep going in this tiresome time of year. Here are some ideas you can use to plan your reading, writing, math, or science camp.

Team Building

Play games or activities to promote working together and problem solving. A great site for ideas is HERE!

Play games

Students will love playing games. It's one of the best motivators for engagement & success. Remember to play games that practice the skills that have already been taught throughout the year. Some games to play might be 3 Minutes to Win It, Inferring Feud, Jeopardy, Scrabble, Bunco My Word, and so many more. Visit our online store for more games & activities.


Rehearse & preform reader's theaters or dramatic reenactments. Students will be practicing fluency and comprehension in a fun way. Preform for parents, administrators, or peers. Here is a link to a great list of resources for reader's theaters.

Explore & Experience

It is important to present students with opportunities to ask questions and find information about a topic of interest. Students need to be reading and searching for information with a purpose. Have you taken your students on a virtual field trip? Zoos, museums, and even business websites all provide great opportunities to take students out into the real world without leaving the classroom. Students will be making inferences and connections through media in new exciting ways. Visit the San Diego Zoo Website for great FREE virtual field trips!

Sing, Sing, Sing

One of my favorite things about camp is all the group singing, storytelling, and laughing. Remember to sing with your students. Karaoke, camp fire songs, and the radio are all great ways to develop language and literacy. Use song lyrics to practice inferencing and other comprehension strategies. Here is a link to Kelly's blog on using the song of the week to practice reading skills and strategies.

The most important thing to remember about planning a camp is to have fun & practice a lot! Motivate students by planning fun activities to practice for state testing and they will be sure to ROCK THE TEST and leave the grade level prepared for the next step!

Resource of the Month: Tween Tribune

One of my favorite resources is the online Tween Tribune Newspaper, produced by The Smithsonian Museum. Tween Tribune features interesting and leveled news articles for kids of all ages. One of the best benefits about TT is that they have leveled websites; Grades K-4 TT Junior, Grades 5-8 TT, Grades 9-12 Teen Tribune, and a Spanish Site.

I used Tween Tribune in my 3rd and 4th grade classroom for several years. It is great resource for expository and informational texts. My students were able to go to the site directly to read and comment on articles. I would occasionally print off an article to use as a weekly assessment. The students LOVED TT!

The Power of Book Talks

Get your students sharing what they are reading using Book Talks. The purpose of a book talk is to get readers excited about the book, author, genre, or series. Generally, a book talk lasts about one minute and "advertises" a book. This is a great alternative to having students and parents fill out a reading log. The talk is better evidence of the reading than writing a few words down and having a parent sign it.

Here are 5 easy steps to prepare a book talk.

Students will....

  1. Read or listen to a book of choice.
  2. Think about what interested you or why you liked the book.
  3. Present: Show the book, tell about the author, explain why you chose it, and give a short summary.
  4. Remember to speak clearly, make eye contact with the audience, and show enthusiasm.
  5. Make a Telligami to present your book talk on the iPad! (optional)

Book talks are great for all grade levels because the students get to choose the text they are advertising and produce a presentation. The talk can be given in a small or large group or digitally and posted on your class website. Here is a link to Kelly's blog on 10 Ways to Use Tumblebooks. Be sure to check out idea #7 in the blog for more details on book talks.

Kelly Harmon's Book is Available for Preorder!

Kelly Harmon & Robert Marzano teamed up to write Practicing Skills, Strategies, & Processes. The book is part of the Essentials for Achieving Rigor Series and will be available for purchase in May 2015. You can Preorder today Here!

Practicing Skills, Strategies, & Processes: Classroom Techniques to Help Students Develop Proficiency explores explicit techniques for mastering this crucial strategy of instructional practice. It includes:

  • Explicit steps for implementation
  • Recommendations for monitoring students’ ability to develop fluent thinking
  • Adaptations for students who struggle, have special needs, or excel in learning
  • Examples and nonexamples from classroom practice
  • Common mistakes and ways to avoid them

For more information click here!

For more Information about all of our Summer 2015 Workshops CLICK HERE!

On-Site Professional Development

See a workshop that you would like to bring to your campus or district? We can do that. At Kelly Harmon & Associates, we can customize any training to meet the needs of your staff and students. Call or email Randi today to find out more!

(817) 583-1290 or

Kelly Harmon & Associates

We are an educational consulting firm that specializes in providing literacy-based staff development, coaching, and curriculum planning for campuses and districts. We provide professional learning opportunities on a variety of topics and can customize learning based on your needs. Because we are growing and providing consulting to schools across the nation and in Canada, we've changed our name to Kelly Harmon & Associates. Be sure to stay in touch through our