From the Desk of Kelly Harmon

April 2018 Newsletter

Dear Educator,

Happy Spring! This month we have ideas for getting your students to love math and for celebrating National Poetry Month. Our Summer Workshop Lineup has just gone public. Check out the in-person and online trainings we are offering to expand your knowledge of ELAR & Math instruction. Keep up the good work!

Happy Teaching,

Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson

3 Ways to Help Kids Love Math!

Overcoming a fixed mindset for mathematics is a dilemma that most educators need to help students deal with every school year. Here are 3 ideas for getting students to develop a mathematical mindset.

1. Give Students a Choice

For students to take ownership of their learning, they need to be provided with opportunities to make choices. Students can make choices about what they need to practice in math stations. Have students reflect on strengths and areas for growth. Fourth grade teacher, April Buchanan has students track their progress on focus standards and then choose activities to strengthen standards the student identifies as a need.

Students should also make choices about which strategy to use for solving problems. Encourage students to solve problems in a way that makes sense to them. By doing this, students will strengthen neural pathways through productive struggle and repetition. Also, when things don't work out as planned, the student identifies misconceptions and corrects their error, causing them to learn twice as much.

2. Make It Relevant

Have you ever asked "When will I ever use this in the real world?" while solving equations in a mathematics class? (Hand raised over here) Be sure to always give students a reason for importance and real world application for each concept taught. This gives students a sense of urgency when learning and practicing the concept. Use manipulatives and word problems that incorporate their real world interests!

3. Work in Teams

Teaming is all about collaborative thinking! In the real world, we are expected to work with others to accomplish a task. The classroom should be modeled like this. Students will need roles, or jobs, as part of the team to ensure everyone contributes to the work needed to accomplish a task. In math, students work in teams to solve problems and discuss their thinking. Teammates are accountable for their team's learning. Think win-win. When one team player wins, the entire team wins. There is no 'I' in team.

For more ways to get your students loving math, attend our Guided Math Workshop on April 26th or July 30th, 2018!!!!!

Give Students a Choice!

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April is Poetry Month

Let's celebrate this month by reading a poem-a-day to our students. Hearing the rich language and imagining the vivid images described in poems develops schema and extends vocabulary. Here are a few ways to enjoy poems this month.

Poem in Your Pocket Day!

April 26, 2018

April is national Poetry Month and April 26th is national Poem in Your Pocket Day! On April 26th, students and teachers are asked to select a poem and carry it in your pocket that day. Poems are to be shared with anyone you talk to that day. From students at the bus stop to your followers on social media, read your poem to everyone. Share your poem using the hashtag #pocketpoem on your social media post!

For more info on this special day, visit!

Gallery Walk

Post four to six poems on chart paper on the walls around the room or in the hallway. Have students work in teams of two to four to visit each poem. Each team should have a reader and a recorder. After the reader reads the poem, the team discusses what the poem says and means. The recorder adds their thoughts to the chart paper. Thoughts can be words, phrases, sketches, or sentences. The key is that each team leaves their perspective on the poem. The next team to visit the poem, reads the previous teams remarks and adds their own unique insight.

At the end of the gallery walk, teams return to the poems to see what other teams have added. The class can vote for the class favorite.

Act Out a Poem

Have students work in small groups to select a poem to perform. As groups prepare to perform, have them discuss what's going on in the poem and where the poem take place. Students should decide how to divide the poem into parts so that everyone has a part to read during the performance.

Students should have several days to practice before performing. This is a great way to develop fluency and incorporate the arts.

PB & J Partners

Students need lots of time to collaborate with each other in order to develop vocabulary, learn content, process new learning, and the real world skill of conversation. Starting in partner groupings, students use accountable talk to learn how to have a meaningful conversation in which they take turns sharing ideas and listening.


When students discuss their thinking, they are able to help process new content and hear other perspectives. It is important to teach students how to have A-B conversations. Students know who should talk first and we need to make sure everyone gets air time, not just those who love to talk.

One fun way to partner up students is to put them into 'peanut butter/jelly' partners.

Start by saying 'Peanut Butter ask/tell Jelly....'

Then ask Jelly 'What did you just hear your partner say?'

'How is this similar to your own view?' or 'What does your partner believe/feel?'

By putting students into partnerships, it is easy to keep up with who started the conversation last and provide opportunities for all to share and listen. Make sure to always give students open ended questions to turn and talk about with their partners. Turn and talks need to be worthy of a real conversation, so that students can share their thinking and learn from each other.

Other fabulous pairings!

  • Mac & Cheese
  • Milk & Cookies
  • Meat & Potatoes
  • Eggs & Bacon
  • Lewis & Clark

Setting Up Your Classroom to Thrive

August 3rd

9:30am -12:30pm


Join Randi Anderson for an interactive webinar all about setting up your classroom to thrive this year! Classroom space is limited, so every inch must be planned. Learn setup ideas for classroom libraries, wall spaces, student work spaces, whole group meeting areas and much more! 3 hours of professional learning credit will be awarded. For more information, click here!

Bring Seminars to Your District!

We provide onsite and online seminars for schools and districts. Our trainings can be customized to meet the specific needs of your students and staff. Contact our us for more information on our trainings and rates! (817) 583-1290.