Our Blog

Favorite Books for the First Days of School

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Sept. 12, 2020, 11:51 a.m.

Looking for great read alouds for the first weeks of school? Here is a link to a padlet I created with the help of a lot of friends!

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Impactful Virtual Learning: Tech Tools to Keep Your Students Cognitively Engaged

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Sept. 12, 2020, 11:34 a.m.

By Ashley Taplin


Jamboard: Google Jamboard is a great tool to use both synchronously and asynchronously to enable students to display their thinking and foster collaboration. The board includes virtual pens and highlighters, text boxes, sticky notes, and uploading images/gifs.


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Using Brain Strategies to Impact Student Learning

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Sept. 12, 2020, 11:33 a.m.

By Cindy Jones


Students’ behaviors have changed a lot in the past ten years. Today’s educators need specific strategies to help keep students engaged and learning. These strategies, which are based on current brain research, also reduce boredom and acting out behaviors.

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Establishing Culture and Community through the Houses Systems

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Sept. 12, 2020, 11:30 a.m.

The Why

Professional collaboration was at play two weeks ago when I went to my fellow teacher (and sister-in-law) Christe Montgomery to ask for ideas for building community and managing behavior. She suggested the Ron Clark Academy house system that her school implements. It sounded fun and engaging, so I rallied the troops in 4th grade and we went for it. It was a hit very quickly. The house system teaches teamwork, responsibility, teamwork, friendship, and leadership.

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Focus On Your Impact

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Sept. 12, 2020, 11:27 a.m.

I recently attended a virtual session on Visible Learning with Dr. John Hattie. He talked about what works best in order to cause dramatic increases in student learning during face to face and virtual instruction. Turns out, just about everything we do as educators causes students to learn. However, he said there's no evidence that teaching more results in more learning. In fact, through his vast meta-research, there is evidence that highly impactful teachers don't focus so much on what they or the students will do. Instead, they focus on their impact on student learning. According to Dr. Hattie, it's how we think, not what they do, that has the most impact on student learning. 




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Children's Literature for the First Weeks of School

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Aug. 17, 2020, 10:20 a.m.

Have you made your read aloud decisions for the first weeks of school? Books really bring a community of learners together and help us establish the classroom culture

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Breakout Room Team Roles

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Aug. 17, 2020, 10:14 a.m.

Team roles are a really important component of well-functioning learning community. My friend, Ashley Taplin, created these team roles for zoom meetings, specifically to use during breakout rooms.

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Tips for Starting the Year in Virtual Mode

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Aug. 7, 2020, 8:22 a.m.

During the first weeks of school, we are building our learning community.  Doing this in a virtual setting presents new challenges.  Here are 3 tips for setting up your class community.  

Music has the ability to change the brain. In the mornings on the way to school, I throw myself a "personal pep rally" to get my mind and attitude positive for my students and colleagues. We can do this for students as they walk through the door or come into our classroom or Zoom session. When you share a screen in Zoom, be sure to check the box on the share screen that says "Share Computer Sound." This allows you to mute, but the music plays through to students. 

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Teaching Empathy

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Aug. 7, 2020, 8:17 a.m.

Teaching Empathy

Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Taking time to talk about empathy through read alouds, role playing, and discussions will help students be mindful of others. When we teach kids to have gratitude, we are in turn teaching them to be empathetic. 

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Tools for Starting Distance Learning Off Strong

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Aug. 3, 2020, 1:01 p.m.

With many school systems starting off the fall semester with virtual learning, we wanted to provide you with ideas for making virtual learning smooth and interactive!

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