Monday, December 5, 2016

What is it like to have dyslexia? This article explores dyslexia and includes how it impacts writing. Well worth the read. Courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief.

Dyslexia is widespread but often misunderstood, Gabrielle Emanuel, an education reporter with dyslexia, writes in this commentary. Emanuel highlights the challenges some students with dyslexia face in the classroom and beyond.
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Thursday, November 24, 2016

This article outlines how to teach students critical thinking across content. I am thinking a good writer must apply these thinking strategies while writing - and then transfer it to print. Take a look and see what you think. Courtesy of Mind/Shift.

Three Tools for Teaching Critical Thinking


Jason Watt had trouble empowering his middle school students to push their thinking further. Many students already had deeply ingrained ideas about what they were and weren't good at, what they could and couldn't accomplish. In a training on "integrative thinking" at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, Watt finally found the tools he needed to develop students' critical thinking. Several Ontario school boards are now supporting training in the effort.

Integrative thinking involves these three tools:

Ladder of inference
The ladder of inference is a model for decision-making behavior developed by Harvard professors Chris Argyris and Donald Schön. Students learn how decisions are made and identify how assumptions can lead to conclusions, including false ones. By knowing how decisions are made, students can think more critically about situations. Watt's students use this technique to solve social disputes as well. "We've learned that there's nothing wrong with questioning, so the kids have become much more willing and accepting of criticism because it's not really criticism anymore."

Decisions are often weighed in pros and cons, but integrative thinking asks students to see multiple positive sides of an idea, even in terrible ones. Students then combine those ideas to create another idea. "The students now are no longer afraid to think," Watt said. "They're being more creative thinkers." He even uses integrative thinking in math instruction, asking students to use the ladder of inference to determine information in a word problem, or asking them to do Pro/Pro charts for different multiplication strategies and then letting them come up with their own third way. His students' math scores started skyrocketing, and even better, they no longer felt they weren't "math people."

Causal Model
Teacher Jennifer Warren starts the first semester by asking students to do a causal model of their values. She asks them to pick three to five things they value, anything from profound qualities like independence or kindness, to passions like music or hockey. They then dive deeply into why they value those qualities and ask questions like, what caused that? Often this requires them to have conversations with family about values taught to them from a young age.

She then asks them to make visual representations of their causal models and present them to one another. "I like that because they realize people don't value the same things that they do," Warren said. Those causal models go up on the wall as a reminder that everyone in the class is different and that the diversity of values, perspectives and opinions makes them better problem solvers.
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Friday, November 18, 2016

Strong writers build knowledge first

Solve the problem of "I don't know what to write," once and for all by cultivating student expertise on the topics they are studying. Deep content knowledge and strong vocabulary are the building blocks of an engaging composition. Here's how to help students develop a content-rich base for their writing, and then use genre study to uncover the tools for conveying that knowledge. Read now.

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

An e-mail from Corbett Harrison. Enjoy!

I'm a bit behind on getting the new November lesson of the month posted.  I'm not only grading midterms from my online class, but I'm prepping to head to the NAGC Conference in Orlando.  I'll post the new November lesson when I'm back; it's about teaching your students to design their own graphic/advance organizers, so it should be worth the wait.
I'll remind you of last November's Writing Lesson of the Month: Rhe-Turk-ical Triangles  Review or introduce the rhetorical triangle with your students; then, apply the strategy to a turkey trying to talk its way out of being served at Thanksgiving.  The lesson comes with a mentor text, a video that explains the Rhetorical Triangle in simple terms, and some great student models!  Plus there's a contest!  Scroll to the bottom of the lesson for contest information.
And the Pinterest vote count is in!  Kudos to our top-scoring writer's notebook metaphor for 2016: My writer's notebook is a train that runs through my imagination.  It comes from 6th grader Shayna who's in Ms. Rosenthal's classroom!  It worth sharing with your students if they are keeping writer's notebooks too! So are the other three student metaphors that received lots of votes too!
--Corbett Harrison
Visit Writing Lesson of the Month Network at:
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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Here are some great resources Corbett Harrison is shaing for free. They deal with Writer's Notebook and Vocabulary/Writing Skills. Enjoy.

My Montana workshop materials have been freely posted at my homepage  Even if you're not attending or can't attend, please know I've been designing my workshop materials this whole year in such a way that you can independently go through the materials to see what we're talking about and to have links to the resources I am sharing at the workshops.  My two Montana topics: WRITER'S NOTEBOOKS and VOCABULARY/WRITING SKILLS.  If either of those topics interests you, for the next few weeks, you can download and save my presentation materials.

It's been a great year of presenting!  I've enjoyed meeting teachers this year in Texas twice, Oklahoma, Nevada twice, California twice, and now Montana.  I've already been negotiating workshop dates for 2017.  If you think any of my website's ideas need to be shared with your state, region, or district, you can find information on how to bring me to your area at this page at my website.  You can share that link with your district leadership if you're not the person in charge of bringing in guest speakers.
My district has decided to send me to the NAGC conference in Orlando this November.  If anyone else is going, let me know so we can look out for each other!  
--Corbett Harrison (Always Write and WritingFix websites)
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Sunday, October 16, 2016

A message from Corbett Harrison.

Hello, teachers and writers,
First of all, thanks for all the nice words that many have sent in about our October Vocabulary/Writing Lesson.  I can tell you are delighting in the mentor text by James Tobin as much as I did.  Remember the goal of the lesson: think of multiple contexts where they could apply the word and not only visually represent those contexts but also explain their visuals through writing.
If you own our full set of notebook Bingo Cards, I just wanted to let you know I have done some recent revisions to October's online "center-square lesson":  Recipe Metaphors
Finally--if you're a user of Pinterest--please be sure to vote for your favorite of the four writer's notebook metaphors that we selected to be featured at the site this September. You must vote by October 31.  All four of the submissions are creative and thoughtful, but one lucky student will win an Amazon Gift Card based on "likes," "repins," and "saves" at Pinterest.  Here is the page you can access all four entries and vote from:
--Corbett Harrison
Visit Writing Lesson of the Month Network at:
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