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Ideas to Get Students Thinking About Their Thinking

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Oct. 11, 2019, 11:08 a.m.

As an educator, one of our universal goals is to teach our students to have metacognitive strategies. Here are some ideas to get kids thinking about their thinking.


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Classroom Discussions Drive Thinking

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Oct. 11, 2019, 11:02 a.m.

The art of conversation is a life skill that must be taught to students. This past month, I worked with intervention educators on reading and writing strategies for high school students. 

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The Power of Student Teams

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Sept. 6, 2019, noon

I'm so excited to share a new book just out on using student teaming to increase the learning. In the book The Power of Student Teams, by Michael Toth and David Sousa, you will explore collaborative learning and crosswalk this strategy with SEL learning, 21st Century Skills, Habits of Mind, and more.


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First Week Reflections

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Aug. 16, 2019, 12:30 p.m.

Looking for some easy ways to have students reflect on their first week of school? We have you covered!

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What's Your Weekly Theme Song?

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Aug. 13, 2019, 8:52 a.m.

Have you heard the song High Hopes by Panic at the Disco? This is 5 year old Whitten's favorite song right now. He begs for it to play on repeat. I am so glad he did, because after listening to it, it became my theme song to kick off the year! The message is ageless and the vocabulary is amazing. Students will be surprised when their teacher plays this song the first week of school!

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Reflecting & Revising Learning

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Aug. 13, 2019, 8:33 a.m.

At the end of each content block, students need an opportunity to reflect on their learning for the day.This is a great opportunity for students to validate their efforts and learning, while also giving teachers an opportunity to formatively assess who hit the target and who needs more practice time.

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Using a Graffiti Wall

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Aug. 13, 2019, 8:28 a.m.

Graffiti walls are simple to do, but can illustrate complex thinking. I ran across an article entitled "20 Ways to Teach With Graffiti Walls" on Twitter. The ideas in the blog go so well with my goal of making learning visible! Using words and/or graphics, student can share thinking and see their classmates' perspectives. This could be in a station, a center, or to start or finish class.

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Creating a Team Culture in Your Classroom

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Aug. 12, 2019, 1:02 p.m.

Effective learning communities do not rely on just one person to do everything. When citizens work together in teams to accomplish goals and share the work load, everyone benefits!


In the first weeks of school, we establish the learning community culture. We want to establish student-centered classrooms starting on day one. Everyone will need a learning job that requires thinking. We've created six roles that incorporate listening, speaking, reading, and writing.


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Student Experts

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • April 23, 2019, 10:58 a.m.

Spring is a great time of year to have students dive into interesting topics and share their knowledge and expertise. Ask students to identify topics they know a lot about and have them write down any questions they might have about the topic. You can use these questions (and their answers!) to create shared "expert journals" in your classroom. In one second grade class, we brainstormed the topics using an alphaboxes chart and created expert journals from there.

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Intentional Pair Shares

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • March 13, 2019, 2:05 p.m.

How can we get all our students to share their thinking? When setting up for pair shares, students should always know ahead of time who their share partner will be. They should have a title or designation to help them know who will talk and who will listen. Each time students are going to pair share, direct specific students to start the conversation. For example, say "Partner A: explain why you think the character..." Give students a short amount of time to explain and then say something like "Partner B: Do you agree or disagree with A? Is there evidence in the text to support your thinking?"

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2 & 10 Rule

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • March 13, 2019, 2:01 p.m.

One of my favorite classroom questions is asking students to spell love, and then eliciting "T- I- M- E." I love this idea that we express our love and caring for one another by spending time together. I think this is so true, even at school. Struggling students often don't feel connected while at school. Once a student thinks they aren't liked or don't belong, it becomes difficult for them to engage in productive group activities and accept feedback meant to move them forward.

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New Year, New Goals!

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Jan. 11, 2019, 2 p.m.

What is Your Goal?

In 2019, I'm all about being intentional in my instruction. Since we never have enough time, my goal is to only spend time on what is most likely going to move readers, writers, and mathematicians forward. I am going to audit every minute of class time to make sure we don't spend time on things that aren't likely to make much difference. Unfortunately, basals and textbooks are full of this kind of fluff.

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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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Scaffolding Up!

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • May 4, 2018, 2:54 p.m.

Tier one classroom instruction is always about learning grade level standards. But what about the kids that aren't quite there yet? How do we scaffold them up to achieve those standards? Here are a few ways to make accommodations that get kids where they need to be.


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Parent Involvement Ideas for Spring 2017

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Feb. 13, 2017, 3:52 p.m.

Read Across America Day is fast approaching! RAD is on March 2nd each year in celebration of Dr. Seuss' birthday! This year, invite parents to join in the fun!

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Early Childhood: Questions and Answers

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Jan. 2, 2017, 3:48 p.m.

Language comes before literacy. Young learners need to listen, look, talk and question. Try our Questions and Answers activity during your morning circle time to get students producing language with increasing ease and accuracy.

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Social Media in the Classroom

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • July 22, 2014, 4:15 p.m.

Social media has become a necessity more than a luxury these days. We find out breaking news, friend’s life events, and tons of new information daily. From Facebook to Instagram, social media floods the world. So why not use this to the educator’s advantage?

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