From the Desk of Kelly Harmon

January 2016 Newsletter

Dear Educators,

Happy New Year!

Join Kelly Harmon & Associates in 2016 for instructional ideas, professional development, and much more! In just a few weeks, we are rolling out a new and improved version of our website. Be sure to visit the site often for the latest blogs and downloads. We hope you will enjoy our newsletter this month. We are focused on goal setting, action planning, and instructional strategies.

Happy Teaching!

-Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson

Goal Setting & Action Planning

What are your resolutions this year? Knowing that we can start fresh rejuvenates our students as much as it does us.

Great leaders set goals and create action plans from the start. Teddy Roosevelt set goals to make the United States strong in the areas of economics and defense. He created an action plan to see his goals through and in effect he increased our production of natural resources and built up our Navy defense. Resulting in a stronger country as a whole.

Setting goals is a vital skill our students need to be taught. It's a life skill they will use throughout their life to create actionable plans. Goals empower us to take ownership and direct our own course.

While setting goals is fabulous, creating an action plan to reach those goals is even more important. People who accomplish their goals, know what it takes to get there. They make a plan, identify obstacles, and put forth the work to reach each of their goals. Students need explicit modeling of how to set a goal, create an action plan, identify possible obstacles, and see it through.

Here are 3 ways to set goals with your students in 2016:

1. Set a Variety of Goals Each Week

Goals are defined in two different categories: Short Term and Long Term.

Short term goals are smaller and more attainable goals that students set for themselves to accomplish in a short time period, i.e. a day, or weeks. Do you create a "to do" list daily or weekly? Each item is a goal to accomplish. Checklists are a great starting point for students when goal setting. Start with a checklist of things to accomplish in the classroom in the next couple of days. It could be reading several pages of their book or staying on a task during math centers.

Long Term goals are larger and have a longer time frame, i.e. a month(s), semester, or an academic school year. Long term goals need extensive action plans. Educators and students must commit to continually tracking and monitoring the progress of these goals throughout the year to determine progress. To get students thinking about long term goals, you can use the format of 2 Stars and 2 Wishes. Students identify strengths and next steps. Click here to download a free resource.

2. Action Plans

Creating an action plan is the most important part of goal setting. Think of an action plan as a road map to success. Students can map out a schedule, list, or sequence of events that will lead them to accomplishing their goal. Students need to see the teacher model this for them. Set a long term goal and then identify the steps that are necessary to meet your goal. Also, illustrate for students possible obstacles that could prevent success and brainstorm ways to overcome the obstacles. Show students that motivation and effort will pay off.

3. Progress Monitor

Take time with your students to evaluate their progress on short term and long term goals. Allow class time to discuss, revise, and evaluate the action plans that were created. Celebrate accomplishments and encourage growth at all levels.

When students set goals, monitor progress, and celebrate the progress they become focused, self-directed learners.

Happy New Year & Happy Teaching!

-Randi Anderson

Apps of the Month

Formative Assessment Apps:

Socrative is a great app to use to monitor and document student progress. "Through the use of real-time questioning, result aggregation, and visualization, you have instant insight into levels of understanding so you can use class time to better collaborate and grow as a community of learners." Get Socrative here.

Plickers is a great resource for educators to use for quick checks of understanding. The teachers uses a tablet or smart phone to quickly scan the room and gather student responses. Students do not need a device to participate. Get Plickers here.

ePortfolio Apps:

Seesaw is a great app to use with students to create digital portfolios. Students create a portfolio by capturing pictures of their physical work or creating videos. This is a great accountability tool for students to use! And great to use to showcase work for parents and guardians! Click here to get Seesaw.

Students Taking Action

One of the best pieces of advice I've ever been given in my teaching career is "Whoever does the thinking, does the learning." Students need to process the learning in order to develop comprehension of the concept or procedure. Here are some quick ways to get students to think through writing.

Quick Writes

Quick Writes are an easy way to get students actively participating in the lesson or activity during class time. All you need to do is turn an oral task into a written one. Instead of asking students to raise their hand to share their answer, have them write out their response. Allow 1 to 3 minutes for students to draft their thinking. This is a great way to see student's thinking and get whole class engagement in a short amount of time!


This strategy is a great way for students to brainstorm about a topic, create categories and then organize by labeling groups. You can use this strategy in every content area, especially writing. Ask students to list out all the words or facts that they know about a topic. Then have students group words from their list together based on similarities. Next, have students label each group or category of words they have constructed. Viola! Students have just planned and organized new ideas that represent their learning. This tool is great to use a prewriting strategy to plan out essays.

2016 Workshop Offerings

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.