Harmonized Instruction

October 2015 Newsletter

Dear Educators,

Are the cooler temperatures and changing colors energizing you and your students? Are your students changing their understandings of the world through authentic and meaningful learning experiences? We know you are working hard to plan learning experiences that have a lasting impact on what your students know and how they process what is happening around them. Here are a few ideas you can harvest as you work to change the world.

Happy Teaching!

~Kelly and Randi

Close Reading FYI

Close Reading has certainly become a BUZZ word in the reading education world. Here are 3 essentials to know about Close Reading.

1. What is Close Reading?

Close reading is the act of careful, purposeful, repeated reading to glean facts, details, and information to construct deep meaning. Readers reread (numerous times) the text to focus on understanding the author's message. Each reading helps the reader decipher the main points of the text by analyzing author's craft such as text structure, literacy elements, rhetorical devices, and word choice. Use of genre knowledge is particularly crucial during close reading. Readers use their expectations of the text genre to predict, ask questions, summarize, make inferences and connections.

2. What texts should be used for Close Reading?

Texts should be brief due to the amount of critical thinking required to comprehend deeply. Select texts with that range from three paragraphs to three pages. You may also consider using an excerpt from novels. The texts should be sufficiently complex and require students to use reading strategies to process the information. Students need to be very focused on one or two points such as author's perspective, word choice, text structure, or use of literacy elements. This creates a need to read and comprehend at deeper and deeper levels each time they encounter the text.

3. What questions should be used while Close Reading?

Students should be asking:

  • What is the text about?
  • What does the author want me to understand?
  • How does the author organize text?
  • What words does the author use?
  • Are there any hard words or words seem particularly important?
  • How does the author play with language in order to create meaning or make points?
  • How is the text similar or different to other texts?

Click HERE to get our Close Reading anchor chart!

The ability to read closely is a life skill, not just a test skill. While it's not the only type of reading we do, having strategies to analyze an author's literal and inferential meaning is required to be college and career ready.

Resources for Texts to Use for Close Reading Experiences

  1. www.ted.com-Search "Education" and/or "Talks to watch with kids"
  2. www.tweentribune.com-News for kids from The Smithsonian.
  3. The Huffington Post-A news aggregator and blog
  4. Mensa For Kids-Thought provoking resources for kids
  5. Reading Works-Units, Passages, and Comprehension Questions

Developing Spelling Proficiency

During the past 20 years, much research has been conducted on strategies that proficient spellers use. Proficient spelling is linked to the ability to detect and isolate sounds heard in words (called phonemic awareness) and match the sound or sounds to the letter or letter patterns (known as grapho-phonemic knowledge) that most closely matches the sounds. As students progress through elementary school, they develop strategies for spelling and an awareness of misspelled words.

These 3 basic strategies to spell words are:

  1. Use high frequency word knowledge—Words are seen often and are known because of frequent exposure in reading. Words should be practiced by naming each letter in the word. These are the words that need to be memorized. It also helps if words are learned in the context of meaningful sentences. Most children can correctly spell the 400 most frequently used words by the end of 3rd grade if they have spent lots of time reading and writing. In order to achieve this, first through third grade teachers assess and assign three to five high frequency words to learn each week. One way to assess learning is by giving dictation sentences weekly and looking at each student’s journals and written compositions.

To read more, click HERE!

More Seminars for 2015-2016

Best Apps, Digital Tools and Web Resources to Accelerate Student Learning

Today’s students are digital natives who are easily engaged and motivated when technology, like iPads and other tablets, are integrated into instruction. But when do you find the time to learn which apps work, how to most efficiently use them and discover the potential for helping teach, reinforce learning and provide a way for students to share their knowledge in creative and meaningful ways? Join avid tech user and trainer, Kelly Harmon for a fun and interactive seminar! For more information visit, www.ber.org.

  • Oct. 21, 2015 Sioux Falls, SD
  • Oct. 22, 2015 Omaha, NE
  • Oct. 23, 2015 Salt Lake City, UT
  • Nov. 2, 2015 Baltimore, MD
  • Nov. 3, 2015 St. Louis, MO
  • Nov. 4, 2015 Kansas City, MO
  • Nov. 5, 2015 Springfield, MO
  • Nov. 6, 2015 Tulsa, OK

Strengthening Your Title 1 Program-Powerful Intervention Strategies to Accelerate Achievement of Struggling Students

Learn how to better lead your school or district Title I team in this strategy-packed two-day institute led by nationally acclaimed presenter, Kelly Harmon. You will discover how to work with teachers to identify and implement the most effective cutting-edge, research-based instructional strategies to increase school and district wide student achievement. For more information, visit www.ber.org.

  • Dec. 14-15, 2015 Chicago, IL
  • Dec. 16-17, 2015 St. Louis, MO
  • Feb. 8-9, 2016-Newark, NJ
  • Feb. 10-11, 2016 Long Island, NY

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.