Saturday, July 23, 2016

Here is an update from Corbett Harrison. It contains some great information for teachers on teaching writing...especially the resources he used during a recent workshops in Texas. Thank you, Corbitt. Readers - Enjoy!

Summer is coming to a close...sigh...
I am officially home after speaking and facilitating workshops at two Texas literacy workshops.  Thank you to both Regions 9 and 15 for bringing me in to speak to your wonderful, eager teachers.  The handouts for all four days' worth of sessions are still at my website's homepage (, and they will be there until the end of this month.  I designed them to be--more or less--self-navigating as you explore the topics we covered and the resources I shared to complement those topics.  Every link in the online documents will take you to a website where additional support/ideas/sample work can be explored.  And in case you're in a hurry, I'll share with you the five most popular topics/lessons we explored in Texas:
NEWS!  Coming the first week of August!
A brand new lesson of the month, AS WELL AS complimentary access to the introductory materials for our two new products for this summer:
  • Love your Language! PowerPoint slides: 50 interactive slides that'll get your students laughing and wanting to pay more attention to the words that surround them and the authors they might explore as readers.
  • Sophisticated Sentences mini-lessons: a series of small-group language challenges that will teach your students skills of both SENTENCE FLUENCY and CONVENTIONS! 
  • If you're a member of the Lucky 7, these two resources will be sent to you automatically!

NEWS! Coming in mid-September!
Those of you who already own our 10 Vocabulary & Writing Lessons will receive two bonus lessons in PPT format:  
  • Vocabulary-inspired "Fake Phone Apps"
  • Vocabulary-inspired "Fake Movie Posters"
  • If you're a member of the Lucky 7, these two lesson updates will be sent to you automatically!  
--Corbett Harrison
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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Sunday Shout Out (on a snowy Monday in Nevada) from Corbett & Dina Harrison...some great resources.

Nevada isn't just the desert around Las Vegas; here on the northern end of the state, we sometimes get snow days, and today was one of those days!  I meant to post a Sunday Shout Out yesterday, but I ran out of time, so perhaps it's fate that I got the morning off to prepare for that.
Three Vocabulary Shout-outs! This Sunday shout out is for three teachers who are using our website's VOCABULARY COLLECTING RESOURCES to inspire meaningful short pieces of clever writing centered around good tier-2 vocabulary your students find in their own reading.  We have created 10 different writing lessons, which can be freely previewed HERE at our new Teachers Pay Teachers store.  Gone are the days (I hope) that we simply say, "Put your vocabulary words into original sentences" without giving more context or a higher expectation of those sentences; our 10 vocabulary & writing activities encourage poetic concepts, contextual thinking, grammatical knowledge, and etymology.
A Sacred Writing Time Reminder:  Our 366 Sacred Writing Time Slides have taken the lead as our best-selling product this past year.  Thanks to all of you who use them and see their value.  If you have not ever tried Sacred Writing Time, we offer the entire January Set of SWT Slides to freely download at our new Teachers Pay Teachers store.  Try them for a month with your students.  We think you'll be impressed with the way your students react to them!
Thanks and have a great final week before Winter Holidays!
--Corbett (& Dena Harrison),  Always Write Website
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Saturday, December 12, 2015

December's Lesson of the month from Corbett and Dena Harrison. Some great resources offered. Enjoy

Happy almost-New Year, writing teachers and writing friends,
I'm pleased to say this month's lesson is our 40th lesson of the month!  Thanks to all of you who've supported us in this venture over the years.  We are also less than 1000 members from having 30,000 followers of this online collection of lessons, which is pretty cool.
1.  This month's lesson -- Community of Writers = Neighbors Who Talk -- was inspired by the last few workshops I did for teachers.  A common question was "How do you get your students to talk to each other in a productive way during writing time?"  My answers was 'A Community of Writers,' which is a term I've used since reading Nancie Atwell way back when, but I realized I didn't have a lot at the website that explained how I build that community; this lesson is a short peek into that process, and it will be followed with other peeks in the year to come.  Be sure to notice Dena's new project at the lesson: "Take What You Need" Posters, which come with instructions for how to freely download the first three posters she's made from our newly-established Teachers Pay Teachers store.
2.  Help me in congratulating Michigan 8th grader -- Collin -- whose popcorn bowl metaphor for his writer's notebook and his teacher's Pinterest campaign earned him bragging rights as most popular writer's notebook metaphor in 2015.  You can enjoy all four of the top metaphors (and the poem those metaphors inspired me to write) using this link: We will sponsor this competition again in September of 2016!
3.  And a shout-out to all those primary writing teachers who are doing such a great job building a foundation of writing skills that those of us teaching higher up the academic "food chain" benefit from.  I couldn't do any of this without the four great feeder schools in my school's zone.  Say THANK YOU to your favorite primary teacher this year by directing them to the website of my former Co-Director of the Northern Nevada Writing Project -- Jodie Black: "Start To Learn"  There, she has complementary model lessons, and she also sells her wonderful resource workbooks (for practically nothing!) that she gives to all participants who take her VERY POPULAR local inservice classes for recertification credit!  I haven't met one primary teacher who has taken either of her two writing inservice classes who didn't tell me it was the best workshop they EVER attended.  Thank you, Jodie, but thank you also to all those primary colleagues who are making writing instruction both fun and skill-focused!
Have a great end of December, all of you!  Keep up the great teaching!
--Corbett & Dena Harrison (Always Write and WritingFix websites)
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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Here is July's writing lesson from Corbett Harrison. Enjoy!

Hello Fellow Teachers and Writers!
July's Writing Lesson (which would make a solid "Get to Know Your New Students" lesson for the upcoming school year): They hired me (kind of at the last minute) to teach an online curriculum-development class at our local University near the end of June, so July's lessons a little late.  Add to that, I decided to revise a few of my older pages to compliment the lesson for July.  Anyway, the lesson is now posted, and you can access it (as well as three other monthly give-aways) at our Writing Lesson of the Month page:  This month's lesson inspires writers to convey an anecdote in a 140-character Tweet as a form of pre-writing, and it cites Ernest Hemingway as an inspiration, based on his famous 6-word short story (which is featured at the lesson).  I learned a great new term while creating this lesson: Flash Fiction, which I'm going to use as an idea for Sacred Writing Time this next school year.
A Poetry Writing Contest for the Fall:  Wow, such a great response from our website's users in the first week of introducing our newest product: 18 Quick-Poems--designed to inspire collaborative writing and to teach some great tier-2 vocabulary for class discussions and Socratic Seminars.   I've created this Blog Post to explain the contest!
And...Check out our Brand New Resource Page on Grouping Strategies for Writing:  Dena and I have both been working on flexible grouping strategies for both heterogeneous and homogeneous clusters of students because we both want to further our use of meaningful activities that foster our interpersonal learners, and we now have  developed a new page that shares some solid ideas--especially if you incorporate sacred writing time and appreciate vocabulary and grammar enrichment tasks.  We'd love to know what you think of our new Grouping Strategies Page, which we will be further developing over the 2015-16 school year. 
August's lesson is almost complete.  I promise it'll be posted on time!  We start back August 5th here in Washoe County.  Anyone out there starting ahead of us?
--Corbett & Dena Harrison (
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Monday, July 27, 2015

A note from Corbin Harrison on lessons for opeing school. Enjoy!

With your permission, I need a few more days to finish July's Lesson of the Month--thanks to a last-minute July 4th trip we're going to be taking.  I'm sure most of you are on summer break, and I suspect you'll forgive my tardiness.
July's lesson will be a "Start the Year off Write!" lesson, which means it's a lesson that has students do some writing that will introduce themselves to me as individuals in a way that's better than those old "What I did over summer vacation" essays I assigned in year #1 of my 25-year career.   Each year, I seem to make a brand new "Start the Year off Write" lesson, even though I have a ridiculous quantity of lessons that achieve this purpose quite capably.  I'm forever hatching new ways to do old things.  It drives Dena crazy!  :-)
In lieu of a brand new July lesson today (it'll come out next week some time--after the 4th), I will provide some links to my favorite already-posted past "Start the Year off Write" lessons to you today, just in case the new one this year doesn't appeal to you.  Here they are in no particular order.  And be sure to check out the note at the bottom of this email about contacting me if you think you're a Lucky Seven member:
  • Alpha-Genres (or things I might write this year):  This is a great way to launch a writer's notebook program, and if you give them time to make this page standout, then it sets a nice standard for the quality you're hoping to see in students' notebooks.  I have done many variations of this lesson, depending on what writing trait I plan on teaching them first; my eighth graders, for example, were going to learn VOICE first a few years back, so I made the topic for them "Alpha-tones," and we used their 26-word list to do a lot of quick-writes ("Write for five minutes using the voice of your A-tone word!"  Some kids wrote in an Angry voice and others in Annoying or an Apathetic one.)
  • How Big Is Your Brave?  I'm always looking for a new way to introduce them to our classroom 'margin mascot," a.k.a. Mr. Stick.  Often, this involves a storyboard lesson that I later try to convince them to turn into an actual piece of writing.  My former group of 7th graders who just graduated to high school this June were the first to do this lesson, and they told me that every time they hear the Sara Barellis song on the radio, they will think of me.  The music video this lesson is based on is good for building self-esteem, which is why I liked starting the year with it, because beginning seventh grade can be scary, and the message behind the lyrics of the song are very thoughtful.
  • Presenting Me: This was a trilogy I created to celebrate my students' different heads, then hands, then hearts...because I had the same group as sixth, seventh, and eighth graders.  The lesson page gives a nice outline of the three options; however, and you may not realize this, if you own our entire set of Writer's Notebook Bingo Cards, the link to the August center-square takes you to a special page with a few more lesson details and a lot more student samples that you can show.  The nice thing about these lessons'final products is they look really good hanging outside your door for open house night, and if you show your students your teacher model before they begin, they will put much more effort into these.
I hope these inspire you to do some writing right off the bat.  Obviously, I am already planning for the first week of school.  I am also working on our two new products that will--hopefully--both be ready for purchase by the end of August.  The first one--Eighteen Tier-2 Vocabulary Quick Poems--is finished and with the editor.  If you haven't checked them out, here is a link.  And remember, if you think you're a member of the "Lucky Seven Club," you'll be freely sent both these products as soon as they're back from the editor--but you have to contact me and tell me you're in the Lucky Seven...I will not dig through the database unless you alert me to look for your name and email address you used to purchase 7 of our resources.
Happy Fourth to everyone!
--Corbett & Dena Harrison (
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Friday, July 17, 2015

Below is a great resource for vocabulary! Enjoy! Courtesy of Corbett Harrison

Hi teacher-friends,
As a complement to our "Vocabulary Collector" Routine that we rolled out two summers back, we have now created a new resource: 18 Tier-2 Vocabulary "Quick Poems," enough poems to introduce one every two weeks, if you'd like.  They are intended to be written quickly (10-15 minutes) by partners or small groups, and they are the kind of poems that students will want to share (10 more minutes).  In less than 30 minutes, you can put a really excellent vocabulary word (or two) in the hands of your students while they review writing skills as well as some grammatical skills.
Imagine an administrator or fellow teacher observing your students during a class discussion, Socratic seminar, or writing response group, and they hear your students correctly using the word "terse" or "juxtapose" or "caustic" or "perfunctory" as they invite one another into the academic conversation.  That's the point of these "quick poems," and should you have time to use them all next year, your students will have 28 excellent new words for class...and the dinner table at home!
You can preview all 28 words and three free quick poems from the set of eighteen here:  There is a link below them if you decide to purchase.
Just-for-July Specials: As always, we offer 25% specials for our faithful early-bird buyers.  If you purchase these Quick Poems this July at their current price, we will send you a special link that will allow you to purchase our two other vocabulary products for 25% off!  Those two vocabulary products are:
  • Eleven Common Core-inspired lessons for establishing a "Vocabulary Collector" routine.  Complimentary preview of this now-available product here:  All eleven lessons are designed to guide your students through a 45-minute to a 90-minute lesson that involves literature and writing!  This product is ready to purchase now so that you can start familiarizing yourself with the materials over the summer.  25% off the $19.99 price if you buy the new 18 Quick Poems in July.
  • Random Student Grouping Cards for Vocabulary and Grammar Enrichment.  This is the product I have been working on since October.  It's huge, and it's pretty thoughtful.  You can read about it here: This product won't be sent out to purchasers until the last week of August (because I'm spending the rest of my summer making sure they're perfect).  Previews will be posted soon!  The price of this massive undertaking has yet to be determined, but 25% off for everyone who purchases the ready-to-go "Quick Poems" this July.
I hope you're all enjoying the weather, and I hope you're finding time to find some new things to try in your classroom when you reconvene with your latest group of students.
--Corbett Harrison (
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