Teacher Talk with Kelly and Randi
-Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
An information circle is an instructional tool, much like book clubs or literature circles.
To set one up in your own classroom, first choose 4 to 5 informational texts related to a central topic or idea. You will want to pick texts that peak students' interests. Give your class a brief introduction of each text and then have students vote for their top two choices to read. The next day, put students into groups of 3 to 5 and reveal to the class who is in each informational text circle. Have students meet to discuss background knowledge and formulate questions to answer before reading.
Our favorite tools to utilize in this situation is the RAN chart. RAN stands for "read and analyze nonfiction." Click here to download the RAN chart. We suggest putting each heading on a sheet of 8-1/2" x 11" paper and having students write on sticky notes. The goal of the study is to "confirm" what you think you know by finding textual evidence. Students will also identify misconceptions in their background knowledge. At the end of the informational circle, students get together to discuss what was confirmed, the misconceptions they had, new information learned, and the questions they answered.
Each week students join a new informational circle. This will provide students with opportunities to read a variety of informational texts, actively participate in discussions about reading, and use metacognitive strategies on their own.
Teaching Tip: Each week have a different theme of informational texts. i.e.
Week 1: Animals
Week 2: Biographies of Famous Athletes
Week 3: Famous Places
Week 4: Current Events
2 & 10 Rule
One way to validate students and help them to feel more connected in the classroom is to follow the 2 & 10 rule. The 2 & 10 rule is simple. Spend 2 minutes for 10 consecutive days chatting with students about things other than school. (i.e. their interests, family, hobbies, etc.)
Showing you students that you care about them will help to build a vital and productive relationship. This is also an excellent opportunity to model how relationships are formed and how they should work. In addition, you can use your 2 minutes to gather data that you can use to create relevant math situations, to help students connect learning to their own lives, and to discover texts that students are interested in reading. Two short minutes can do so much to help your students feel connected to the community and to learning.
Intentional Pair Shares
Intentional pair shares are a great way to help teachers remember who has talked and who needs to talk. Our goal should be for ALL students to share their thinking and listen to their partner's ideas. Whoever does the talking, does the learning!
Reviews are great in the classroom, too! Not only are they a form of expository or informational writing, but they also tap into students' interests. Reviews are short expository texts that have an immediate purpose for their intended audience.
After showcasing a variety of reviews to your students, students can start writing their own reviews of toys, restaurants in your area, or places they have visited on spring break vacation.
Before writing, have students plan out their intended message by asking:
- Would you give this product or place a thumbs up or a thumbs down (or 1-5 stars)?
- Why did you rate your product or place the way you did?
- What do you want your reader to learn from your review?
- What words will help you accomplish your purpose?
Showcase your students' reviews so that the entire school can see their thinking! Use QR codes or make a class Yelp book.
Here is a review to use as an example!
Discussion starter questions:
- What do you notice?
- How many?
- What is the best way to count these items?
- Where do you see math?
- What is the pattern?
- What comes next?
- What is the math situation?
After students begin to see the math in the pictures, turn the picture taking responsibility over to them. Have students take pictures and create the math problems for the pictures.This will build conceptual knowledge and help to develop fluent mathematical thinking!
From Phonics to Fluency
Virtual Seminar (3 Hour)
Phonics and fluency go hand in hand because they are both essential components of a proficient reader. Join Kelly Harmon this Spring and boost your knowledge of phonemic awareness and reading fluency. Explore engaging activities that will get your students using common spelling patterns to create words, and reading fluently in no time! For more info click here!
Summer 2019 Seminars
Reading, Writing, & Rigor: Starting the Year with a Rich Literacy Classroom
Two Day Event
San Antonio, TX
Want to create a balanced literacy classroom from the start? Join Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson in San Antonio for a two-day event focused on creating balanced literacy instruction for grades K-8. Explore class routines, schedules, homework, genre mapping, and much more! This seminar will give you an overview of an entire year of intentional planning for engaging instruction. We will dive deep into information on comprehension strategies, literature circles, guided reading, writer's workshops, achieving fluency, word work activities, and assessment ideas. Seats are limited, register today!
Guided Math: Setting the Stage for Success
Two Day Event
San Antonio, TX
In this interactive training, Kelly Harmon will share a variety of guided math strategies, techniques, and ideas for addressing all students' math needs. Walk away with resources and ideas for strengthening your math instruction immediately! You will learn the best research-based instructional strategies to help your students develop conceptual and procedural knowledge, mathematical fluency, and how to transfer those skills to math problem solving. In addition, take a critical look at your math time block and learn how to incorporate writing into your daily math instruction. View our official flyer. Seats are limited, register today!