Teacher Talk with Kelly and Randi

November 2018 Newsletter

Dear Educator,

Happy November!

It's time to gobble up some new ideas for reading, writing, and math. This month we are bringing you ideas on teaching literary nonfiction, texts to get your students reading & writing during the holiday season, and much more! We also have many professional learning opportunities coming up that will be sure to add to your expertise toolbox. Happy fall and happy teaching!

-Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson

What are You Wondering?

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Wonderopolis.org is a phenomenal website for students to use to build schema and vocabulary about a wide range of topics. Be sure to sign up for the daily email to get the daily wondering. Just 5 minutes of "wondering" will provide your students with new knowledge and get them interested in new topics for study. Be sure to check out Wonder Ground to get lesson plans and ideas for fostering curiosity.

Webinars are a Great "MIni-Conference" Opportunity

My commute is usually between thirty to sixty minutes each way every day. I've found this is a great time to get in some professional learning time. I subscribe to several educational podcasts. Each day I select one of the latest podcasts or find a speaker on YouTube. Here are a a couple I highly recommend.

1. Levels are a Teacher's Tool-Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell

“It is detrimental to a student’s self-esteem and to their love of reading when they are encouraged to measure their own progress by ‘moving up levels,’" (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).

Click here to listen to the complete webinar

2. Making Sense of Math-Greg Tang

This TedTalk presented on YouTube discusses the impact of visualization, reasoning, and number sense. Click here to listen.

What is Literary Nonfiction Exactly?

Literary nonfiction, also known as narrative nonfiction, is one of the best genres for getting students to engage in large quantities of reading. But what exactly is literary nonfiction? We hear the word nonfiction and instantly think informational, which is only partly true. The word literary means "narrative" and nonfiction means "accurate". So literary nonfiction is essentially a true story. And who doesn't like a really good true story?

Literary nonfiction is a true narrative that uses literary elements to tell factually accurate stories.


Literary nonfiction is a true story that follows the elements of fiction.

  • Setting
  • Plot (problem/solution)
  • Characters
  • Beginning, Middle, & End
  • Sequence

Examples of Literary Nonfiction

  • Autobiography
  • Biography
  • Memoirs
  • Diaries
  • Journal Entries
Anchor charts created by educators to teach students the critical elements of the genre.
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Great Examples to of Literary Nonfiction to Use With Students

Great Texts for Fall

Fall is one of my favorite times of year! This is mostly because the leaves are changing and there is pumpkin flavored everything, but I also love the fall because of the rich texts we can use with our students. Here are a variety of genres with texts that relate to fall season.


Literary Nonfiction


Graffiti Walls

Add Your Thoughts to Our Wall

Graffiti walls provide a community space for sharing and collecting student thinking on a topic or text. Put up a large sheet of butcher paper and you are ready to go.

Here are a few ways you could use a graffiti wall:

1. Put up pictures of the covers of several books you have available in the classroom. Have students add comments after they read the book. What was the best part? How is this character similar to you? What is the best sentence in the book and why?

2. Have students make book recommendations by writing the title of a good book and why they recommend the book. I recommend the book...because... You will like this book if....

3. Write a question about a topic of controversy and have students add their opinion and support for the opinion. For example "Is Fortnite good for kids?" or "How much screen time is too much?"

4. Post a complex math problem. How would you solve this problem? Is there more than one way to solve the problem?

Graffiti walls are a fun way to get students up and sharing their thinking. Through this silent discussion, you can collect and analyze data that can be used to guide future instruction.

Bring a Training to Your Campus

We provide virtual and onsite seminars for schools and districts. Our trainings can be customized to meet the specific needs of your students and staff. In addition to seminars, we provide instructional coaching, model teaches, and curriculum support. Contact our us for more information on our trainings and rates! (817) 583-1290.