From the Desk of Kelly Harmon

October 2016 Newsletter

Dear Educator,

Happy Fall! Pumpkin spice, fall colors, and football, isn't that what fall is all about? This month we are focused on giving you lots of fun fall ideas to get students excited about reading and writing. We are also spotlighting the Habit of the Mind skill of Listening with Empathy & Understanding!

Don't forget to browse through our fall 2016 workshop offerings and free resources offered on our website! Thank you for your continued readership.

Happy Teaching,

-Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson

Spooky Reading & Writing Activities for October

October is a month full of spook & treats! Incorporating student interests into your reading and writing block is a win-win for students and educators. Here are some fun ways to get students excited about reading and writing in October!

Spooky Reading Day!

Younger Students

Invite students to bring in a flashlight and umbrella for Spooky Reading Day. Students can read independently or with a partner by the light of their flashlights under their umbrellas.

Older Students

Display mysteries and ghost stories around your classroom. Be sure to include short stories and true stories. Give a book talk on one per day. Ask students to share their favorite spooky text and even write their own to share. R.L. Stine, Mary Downing Hahn, and Stephen King provide a range of great reads that your students won't be able to resist.

Big image

Monster Karaoke

Get your students processing texts with some Halloween or just plain spooky songs. Some great options are:

The Monster Mash



Purple People Eater

The Addams Family

Spooky Story Telling

Hold a story telling hour or day where students circle up around the campfire to share scary stories. This can be a great opportunity to model the art of storytelling or story writing!

Horrific Read Alouds

October is a great month to read aloud some classics! Many of these read alouds can be found on Youtube with the author as the narrator! Here are some read alouds that are perfect for October.

Early Childhood

The Halloweiner (Dav Pilkey)

The Little Old Lady Who Wasn't Scared of Anything (Linda Williams)

Too Many Pumpkins (Linda White)

Click Clack Boo (Doreen Cronin)

Upper Grades

Wait Till Helen Comes (Mary Downing Hahn)

Time For Andrew (Mary Downing Hahn)

Beware! (R.L. Stine)

A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle)

Twilight (Stephanie Meyer)

Monster (Walter Dean Meyers)

Halloween Write Arounds

Present students with 2 spooky words, such as "Fright" and "Nightmare". Allow students to choose 1 of the words and give them 5 minutes to write independently or in pairs about the word. At the end of the time limit, sound the bell and have students share their writing with a partner or another group.

Another option is to use the quick write as an opportunity to work on a revision teaching point. Have students pass their writing to around the room. Next, allow 2 minutes for students to read and revise a peers' paper for a specific revision point. Hold 2 rounds for revisions and then pass the pieces back to the original author for them to see the revisions made. Remind students that when we revise we are adding, removing, moving, or substituting.

Revision teaching points could include:

  • word choice-add a strong verb or specific noun
  • sentence combining
  • add a sensory detail

No More Daily Oral Language (DOL)!

You will never get a second chance to make a first impression. The same rings true for the way we learn. Brain research tells us that we remember what we see the first time we see it. The first way our brain views something is a strong imprint. Seeing grammar, mechanics, and spelling incorrectly used is meaningless for most learners, but it is what they are likely to remember. It's very difficult to change and see it correctly used. Students need to spend a lot of time seeing, thinking, and experimenting with grammar and mechanic rules correctly before finding errors.

Teach Conventions in Context

The most effective way to teach grammar rules is in context. Over a week, you can have students explore a grammar rule in a way that will move the learning from short term to permanent memory. Each step below can be addressed in five to ten minutes.

Using a mentor text, students need to see a grammar rule in the correct form FIRST. This how we want them to remember it.

How Does One Teach in Context?

1. Select your grammar rule of the week

Example: Sentence Combining

2. Select your mentor text

Example: The Article from USA Today 'Dancing': Rose, Hough Talk Body'

Big image
3. Present students with the mentor text sentence.

4. Pose discussion questions so that the students analyze the sentence and discover what is good about the sentence. Questions to ask may include: What do you notice? What else? What's working in the text? Where's the good writing?

5. Explain the craft and rule of sentence combination. Make an anchor chart using the student's discoveries. Have students identify the structure of the sentence. For example,

_____________________, _______________________________, ___________________ and _____________.

6. Guided Practice-have students imitate the sentence by writing their own sentence using this structure. Be sure to have students share their sentences.

On another day, have students take the sentences and break them into smaller ones. This is a great way to help students analyze what the sentences says and means. Discuss how combining made the writing piece better as a whole.

7. Apply New Knowledge during independent practice by allowing time for students to locate several sentences in a piece of writing from their journals that could be combined using the grammar rule to make their writing sound and flow better.

Habits of the Mind: Listening With Empathy & Understanding

The Art of Listening

Sometimes the most important thing you can do for someone is to simply listen. As easy as this sounds, it's actually not! Listening is a skill that takes both self control and compassion for others. When you stop and listen, you are putting aside yourself and focusing on others. Listening with empathy and understanding is one essential skill that students need to see modeled, authentically practiced, and discussed often.

I have used Art Costa's "Habits of Mind" as a springboard for discussion.

Using children's literature or novel studies, we can help students identify with characters who demonstrate examples or non-examples of positive academic behaviors. Below are a few books you can read and discuss during the first weeks of school.

Follow Us on Twitter!

Join the Twitter conversation by following @TexasLiteracy on See the latest learnings in the world of literacy. Join in our conversation by using hashtags.

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.