From the Desk of Kelly Harmon
January 2017 Newsletter
We would love to help you in any way this new year. Please let us know if there is a topic you would like resources or ideas on in our future newsletters.
We are praying for you to have the best year ever and we hope to help you make that happen!
-Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
What is Genre?
A genre is a category or subcategory in literature characterized by elements and similarities. Every text can be grouped into a genre, i.e. fiction, nonfiction, traditional literature, poetry, biography, etc.) Some texts are multi-genre texts.
Why Genre First?
Genres are a great starting point because every genre has concrete elements that sets it apart from others. Students must understand the elements of the genre to be able to comprehend, question, analyze, and synthesize while reading.
Our ultimate goal is that students will go beyond surface level understanding and be able to dig deeper by making inferences, asking questions, revising their own thinking. When the student understands the genre fully, they are able to uncover author's craft, compare and contrast, take a position on a topic and support it with facts and details, and much more.
How Do we Teach Genre?
As educators, we must explicitly teach the elements of genre to our students. This means we are exposing them to all genres throughout the school year and teaching each one to mastery. We must:
- Define the Genre (i.e. Fiction)
- List the Elements (i.e. Setting, Plot, Characters)
- List the Text Structures (i.e. Problem Solution, Cause & Effect)
For more ideas and resources for teaching genre and other comprehension strategies (Figure 19), attend our Teaching Comprehension Strategies Workshop in Arlington, TX or San Antonio, TX or bring this training to your campus! Visit our website for more information, www.kellyharmon.net/workshops
Early Childhood: Questions and Answers
Language comes before literacy. Young learners need to listen, look, talk and question. Try our Questions and Answers activity during your morning circle time to get students producing language with increasing ease and accuracy.
Question and Answers, Please! (5 minutes)
- Begin by demonstrating how to look at a picture and start noticing and wondering. Use the sentence stems 'I notice' and 'I wonder'.
- Match students up to be talking partners.
- Show students pictures of people, animals, or things.
- Announce: 'Noticing's, please!' Then 'Wonderings, please!'
- Students begin telling what they notice and then asking a partner questions about the person or animal.
- Announce: Answers Please!
- Students begin answering questions and giving details about the person or animal.
- After 1 minute, ask students for questions that they do not know the answer. Record questions on chart paper under the picture.
- Encourage students and parents to continue to notice and wonder about things they see as they move about the world.
For more activities and resources for the promoting language and literacy in the early childhood classroom, attend our Fostering Language & Literacy in the Early Childhood Classroom: A Make-and-Take Seminar in April 2017! For more information, visit our website!
A Season of Practice
With the spring semester beginning, we are all thinking about those end-of-year expectations and assessments. It's easy to dread this time of year if it seems we are spending all our time preparing for a test, rather than teaching and helping students developing skills, strategies and processes they need for life. Instead of loathing this time of year, we can embrace it and look to providing our students with engaging and authentic practice. It's time to "show off" what they have learned and become proficient in! It's a great time to have fun with all the skills they have learned so far.
Time For Practice
The weeks and days leading up to assessments should include authentic and purposeful practice. Think of it as a time for coaching to refine and develop fluency of critical skills and processes!
You may have been privileged to work with coaches as they modeled certain strokes and then carefully monitored your moves, providing immediate correction of any errors you made while they moved or positioned your body to set you up for the correct stance or stroke. You were thrilled when you reached the point of independent practice and hopeful that you might achieve fluency in executing all of the discrete skills as a complete package. Practice to proficiency for your students is similar. This rings so true for our instruction in the spring semester.
Coaching to Proficiency
Think of yourself as a coach who models and explains, guides students as they work to replicate your model, monitors and provides feedback immediately, then provides practice for the student to increase their proficiency. The practice will gradually increase fluency as the level of complexity increases as well.
For more information and resources on maximizing your instruction in the days leading up to assessments, join us in February for our Countdown to ELAR STAAR workshop happening in San Antonio and Arlington, TX! Click here for more information!
If you can't attend and want more information effective practice techniques, check out my book Practicing Skills, Strategies, and Processes.
Habits of the Mind: Striving For Accuracy
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 and non-examples of positive academic behaviors. Below are a few books you can read and discuss during the next few weeks of school.
By Mem Fox
Grandma Poss uses her best bush magic to make Hush invisible. But when Hush longs to be able to see herself again, the two possums must make their way across Australia to find the magic food that will make Hush visible once more. Habits of the Mind: Striving for Accuracy, Persistence, Thinking Flexibly
Barbara Cooney's story of Alice Rumphius, who longs to travel the world, live in a house by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful, has a timeless quality that resonates with each new generation. Habits of the Mind: Striving for Accuracy, Responding with Wonderment and Awe. Source: goodreads.com
What I Be
"What I Be" is a visual and musical journey about self acceptance. It's okay to be just who you are and strive to be the best that you can be, by embodying the best characteristics of nature. Be as radiant as the sun, as healing as the rain or as generous as a tree. Habits of the Mind: Striving for Accuracy. Source: amazon.com
Comprehension Strategies: Mastering Figure 19 Meta-Cognitive Strategies
In this energizing, fast-paced seminar, educators will learn research-based strategies students need to use to process a variety of texts. Take your students from think alouds to literature circles as they learn to think about the text and beyond the text. Explore ready-to-use techniques and activities to help student master the TEKS Figure 19 Comprehension Strategies. Kelly Harmon will provide instruction, activities, and ideas for engaging students in close and recreational reading.
Countdown to ELAR STAAR: Planning for Authentic & Rigorous Practice
During this seminar, experience and create activities and games that target specific STAAR reading and writing processes, skills and strategies. Discover the difference between test review and test practice and how to incorporate both into daily instruction. You will leave with an action plan that maximizes practice time and provides “just right” practice activities and games for each student.
Use Guided Math to Enhance Your Math Instruction K-3
In this highly practical seminar, Kelly Harmon will share a variety of guided math techniques, including how to plan and implement small guided math groups designed to better meet your students’ needs – from those who excel in math to those who struggle with basic math skills. You will learn the top, research-based instructional strategies that will help your students learn and retain key math skills and concepts, and how to transfer these skills to math problem solving.
April 26, 2017 / San Antonio, TX
April 27, 2017 / Arlington, TX
Strengthening Your RTI Reading: Powerful Strategies to Increase the Success of Your RTI Program
May 18-19, 2017 /San Antonio, TX
Strengthening Your Title I Program: Powerful Intervention Strategies to Accelerate Achievement
June 7-8, 2017 / Arlington, TX
The First 25 Days for ELAR: Establishing Relationships & Routines
June 19, 2017 / Dallas, TX
June 27, 2017 / San Antonio, TX
The First 25 Days of Math Instruction: Establishing a Framework & Routines
June 20, 2017 / Dallas, TX
June 28, 2017 / San Antonio, TX
Parenting Tip of the Month
Closed Caption on Your TV
One of the best ways to get your young children reading is to turn on the closed caption setting on your TV's. Brain research tells us that the brain will automatically look at the words on the screen. It's nearly impossible for the brain not to notice and want to read the words moving across the screen.
Even if your child cannot read any or all of the words yet, they are being exposed to important reading skills that include connecting what is being said to what is written. Ask your child what they think the words are. Model reading the closed caption as you watch the TV. Give it a try for a few weeks and see how your child responds.