Our Blog

Assessment Capable Learners

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Feb. 10, 2020, 1:40 p.m.

By Ashley Taplin

In the fall, I had the opportunity to attend a Visible Learning Institute in which John Hattie and Peter DeWitt dove into the topic of assessment capable learners. They explained that students need to be able to answer three questions: where am I going, how am I doing, and where to next? (download this classroom poster I created here). Furthermore, there are 6 key characteristics of assessment capable learners:

Read More »

Black History Month Read Alouds

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Feb. 4, 2020, 2:51 p.m.

February is Black History month. During this month, we celebrate the achievements of African American men and women. Here are some read aloud texts for your students!

Read More »

Storytime for Feb. 1, 2020

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Feb. 1, 2020, 9:28 a.m.

The theme this week is "You are unique!" This week we are learning about the parts of the body.  Each book, song, and rhyme is thematically linked.  The questions we are exploring is "How are we the same? How are we different?"  Here is a google slide deck with book and song suggestions.

Read More »

Lesson Planning

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Jan. 22, 2020, 12:27 p.m.
Anyone else in the midst of writing lesson plans? Here are a few things that run through my mind as I plan:

    1. How will students' thinking change over the course of the lesson? Is this initial learning or are we going deeper on a topic or skill they already know something about?
Read More »

Writing During Reading

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Jan. 10, 2020, 12:31 p.m.

By Randi Anderson


Integration is key for being able to fit all the things in that we have to teach! Here are some ways to get students talking and writing during your reading block.


  • Interactive Reading Responses

After reading a selection, pose an open-ended question about the text to the students. Have students STOP (think time) and TALK (discussion with peers) about their responses to the question about the text. Allow students time to share (in a small group setting) their answers and reasons to the question. Then, have students STOP (revise their thinking) and WRITE to answer the text question. Make this writing time no longer than 5 minutes.


Read More »

Writing in Math

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Jan. 10, 2020, 12:24 p.m.

By Ashley Taplin

I was recently sent this quote from math guru, Marilyn Burns, in which she said, “I can no longer imagine teaching math without making writing an integral aspect of students’ learning. . . . Writing in math class requires students to organize, clarify, and reflect on their ideas” (Schmoker, 2018). As I began to reflect on integrating more opportunities for writing in my own classroom, I realized it was these fundamental skills from writing that deepened my student’s mathematical comprehension. I also gained new insight into their level of understanding as it was a more personal mode of communication beyond route calculation. But, just like math, writing requires practice and intentionality, and the more exposure, encouragement, and feedback we can give to students, the more competent and confident they will become. Below are some ideas to incorporate as you are beginning or continuing to develop writing in your classroom.

Read More »

Do I Feel Like Learning Today?

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Jan. 10, 2020, 12:17 p.m.

It’s Monday morning and many students have arrived at school feeling tired or even stressed after a weekend of busyness. Some students move slowly to prepare for the day, while others put their heads down, ready to go back to sleep. In the worst case scenario, some students may have experienced trauma-filled weekends and their brains are still in fight or flight. So do they feel like learning? Probably not. Do students have a choice about whether they feel like learning?


Read More »

Make December Magic Ideas

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Dec. 10, 2019, 12:54 p.m.

Have you seen the hashtag #makeDecembermagical? Teachers are tweeting out ideas with pictures to share ideas for how to integrate the holidays into your instruction. Here are some of those ideas:

1. Cozy Up to Learn

Use a fireplace video through Youtube (free) to display on our big screen. Pair with classical holiday tunes while students are working independently. Nothing makes it feel cozy like a fire and Christmas tunes.


Read More »

When One Teaches, Two Learn

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Nov. 22, 2019, 7:35 a.m.

My 5 year old recently came home from school raving about his new favorite center, the "School" center. I asked him what exactly that entailed and he told me it's where he becomes the teacher and teaches other students a concept they have been learning about. He then tells me that he taught a lesson on alliteration and that he got to use a "real" teacher pointer! 



Read More »

Using Poems to Get Students Analyzing

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Nov. 11, 2019, 8:20 a.m.

A great way to get students thinking at the analysis level is by using a song or poem of the week! Each day students will read and dive into thinking about the text through a different lens than before. Each time they reread, they grab another piece of new thinking and learning to add to their schema.

Read More »