From the Desk of Kelly Harmon

November 2017 Newsletter

Dear Educators,

Happy Thanksgiving! This month we are bringing you ideas on quick writes, literary nonfiction, and digital book talks! Be sure to check out our FREE resources we are featuring this month.

Happy Teaching!

- Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson

25 Days of Quick Writes!

Writer’s Workshop should start and end with writing from the heart and head. Quick writes are a great way to kick off writer’s workshop or any class, really. Tell students to write as much as they can, as well as they can, as quick as they can. Set a timer for one to five minutes.

Choose a quick write prompt that will relate to the learning target of the day. Refer back to the quick write after the focus lesson to practice the teaching point of the lesson. Usually, students are revising or editing to incorporate the new learning. Quick writes are seeds for future compositions.

Ideas for Quick Writes

  1. What moment would you capture today for an Instagram post?
  2. Would you rather be alone or with a stranger?
  3. Who has been a hero or role model in your life?
  4. When was the last time you were sad? Why?

For 21 more FREE Quick Write Ideas, Click Here!

Genre Focus: Literary Nonfiction

November is great month to shift your genre focus to literary nonfiction! Literary nonfiction, also known as narrative nonfiction, is simply true stories. Biographies, autobiographies, sports writings, personal narratives, and interviews are all examples of literary nonfiction.

It is important for students to be marinated in literary nonfiction and study the features and craft of the genre. Like fiction, literary nonfiction carries storylines that include plot and characters that are all true. There are many connections to be made between the two genres. Students can read literary nonfiction to produce research products, gain explanations and examples for expository essays, and much more!

The International Literary Association has done an exceptional job reviewing biographies that are great for kids. For examples and blurbs about different biographies, click here!

Digital Book Talks

Make Book Talks 21st Century worthy! Students can create book talks using Tellagami, Shadow Puppet EDU, or Voki.

Learning targets: I can paraphrase what the reading was about. I can write a composition that includes my opinion about a book and reasons to support the opinion.

How to Create a digital book talk

  1. Prepare for your book talk.
  2. Make sure you’ve read the book.
  3. Think about what is interesting in your book.
  4. Think about the lead—how will you capture your audiences’ interest?
  5. Write page numbers and a few notes on a sticky note.
  6. Write a script you will read for your book talk. Include: An attention-getting lead.
  7. Tell the title and author. You can also tell the genre.
  8. Explain why you chose the book and your purpose for reading it.
  9. Tell a little about the book, but don’t give away secrets.
  10. Give your rating or opinion about the book and tell why others might enjoy reading it.
  11. Mention other books by the same author or other books in the series.
  12. Use the iPad camera to take a picture of the book or article.
  13. Open the app and CREATE!
  14. Design your character to look like you or a character from your book.

For the continued steps to complete you digital book talk, click here!

Problem Solving in the Classroom

Problem solving is the central focus of mathematics instruction. (O’Connell, 2007) Students must construct their own conceptual understanding through exploration of mathematical ideas in real world situations. Effective math instruction begins and ends with problem solving. We teach computational fluency in order to solve problems.

Students need to:

  1. Be able to plan to solve problems

  2. Explain the problem situation and how they will or did solve the problem

  3. Organize ideas in the problem

  4. Select appropriate strategies

  5. Determine reasonableness

Teachers need to:

  1. Make thinking visible and model problem solving strategies

  2. Provide opportunities for exploration

  3. Provide a variety of manipulatives for students to use

  4. Facilitate student to student discussions (Drop the bomb and then walk away)

  5. Help students identify and clarify misconceptions

  6. Prompt students to reflect and revise their thinking

  7. Record observations and evaluate individual student learning

  8. Plan repeated practice with mixed problems

To learn more, join Kelly Harmon, Ryan Doetch, and Julia Taylor for a strategy packed conference all about maximizing math instruction! Choose from 21 strategy-packed sessions including:

  • Problem Solving
  • Math Differentiation Ideas
  • Growth Mindsets
  • Guided Math Centers
  • Math Games
  • Using Literature in Math
  • and Much More!

December 4th & 5th, 2017 in Columbus, OH.

For more information, visit or click here!

Strengthening Your Title I Conference

Learn how to better lead your school or district Title I team in this strategy-packed, two-day institute 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 achievement. You will learn how to develop teacher expertise in working with struggling students along with ways to continually monitor and adjust instruction based on student results. For more information, visit here!

January 18 & 19, 2018 / St. Louis, MO

8:30am - 3:15pm

Follow Us On Twitter!