Our Blog

Word Clouds

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Dec. 10, 2018, 8:54 a.m.

A word cloud is an image composed of words or phrases. Individually or as a team, students create an image in which the size of each word or phrase indicates its importance to the overall meaning of the topic or text. Word clouds can be created for concepts, characters, events, and themes across content areas.


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Adding Descriptions to Student's Writing

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Dec. 6, 2018, 3:38 p.m.

Sometimes when we review our students' writing we might feel like it's lacking the "pizazz" needed to make it interesting for the audience. Here is a quick idea to get students adding meaningful adjectives to their writing.


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Making Inferencing Fun!

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Dec. 6, 2018, 3:33 p.m.

Teaching students to infer is essential to becoming a proficient reader. When we really dig deep into the strategy of inferring, we notice that it is a skill students (and adults) are already doing each and every moment of the day. Making an inference is making a decision or claim about something using the evidence we are seeing or hearing. Whether we are deciding which food you want off the menu (based on what sounds appealing), or deciding if someone is a good friend (based on their actions and words), we are making inferences all the time! Here are some fun activities to engage students in making inferences throughout the school day.

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What is Literary Nonfiction Exactly?

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Nov. 6, 2018, 10:03 a.m.

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?

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Webinars Are a Great "Mini-Conference"

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Nov. 6, 2018, 10:01 a.m.

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.

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What Are You Wondering?

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Nov. 6, 2018, 9:59 a.m.

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.

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Quick Writes in Action

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Oct. 8, 2018, 9:34 a.m.

We love to show ideas from our newsletter and seminars in action! You have probably heard and read some of our posts about quick writes. It is one of the best instructional strategies for building writing stamina and confidence. Here are two educators who used quick writes in September!

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Micro-Interventions: Are We Taking Action Quickly?

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Oct. 8, 2018, 8:56 a.m.

Using the success criteria, teachers can closely monitor learning and provide timely feedback about each students' progress or lack there of. The goal is to watch for students to demonstrate the success criteria. If they aren't able to demonstrate the daily learning target, then we must think about what is keeping them from doing so and take action quickly. Is there a gap or misconception that needs to be addressed in order to move students forward?

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Karaoke in the Classroom

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Oct. 4, 2018, 9:44 a.m.

One of my favorite strategies for building fluency is using karaoke in the classroom! Youtube offers all the karaoke songs you could want for FREE!

When students participate in karaoke they are practicing reading from left to right, seeing sight words in addition to higher level vocabulary, and improving their rate. All while having a blast.


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Modeled Writing "The Write Aloud"

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Oct. 2, 2018, 11:18 a.m.

Writing is an abstract macro-process that must be taught explicitly, followed by guided and independent practice. Writers need to learn to make a series of decisions using their schema and executive skills for planning, organizing, avoiding distraction, and staying focused on the message. Becoming a proficient writer takes years and needs to begin early in life.

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