Sunday, September 21, 2014

The deadline below has been extended by 10 days. Enjoy. Courtesy of the Harrisons.

Those of you who've been using our complimentary preview of our popular Sacred Writing Time slide set (they're being used on six continents now!), don't forget the last day in the preview is this Monday, September 15, which is "International Day of Democracy."
Oh...but wait!  I have to give you a few more slides to try out: September 15-19 Slides (They're in PDF format.)
Why four more slides, Corbett?  I just can't let you who don't have the whole set of slides not enjoy the national holiday on our Friday, September 19 Slide: "National Talk Like a Pirate Day"  I don't know who invents these holidays, but I always get such funny writing from my kiddos on that day, like this ten-minute sacred writing sample from then-7th-but-now 8th grader Chaz, who loves to read his writing out loud when he can use funny voices and bad accents!  Check out that student sample link from Chaz.  Trust me.  Repin it, if you're a Pinterest person. You can see first-hand what happens when my kids really like their ten minutes of writing sacredly--they take their notebooks home and decorate the page, creating what will surely be one of their "stand-out" pages in their writer's notebooks!  Stand-out pages set the bar pretty high when we start talking about what quality writer's notebooks look like.  This Friday will be a good day to get some possible stand-out pages going.
So I've attached several bonus slides to this e-mail as a PDF file (which will give you the SWT slides for September 15-19), and I hope you'll use them every day this upcoming week to inspire ten awesome minutes of fluency-building writing time.  I'm probably going to warn my kids on Monday what holiday is coming up Friday, and I'll bet many of them start preparing early on what their pirate-worthy writing will be about; I might even offer an extra credit prize (from my bucket of silly prizes) for anyone who arrives for sacred writing on Friday wearing an eyepatch or a parrot, and you watch, they'll do it!  My kids like SWT time that much!
Anyway, those without the set of SWT slides, this is the last chance you have to see if you think they might work at inspiring your writers.  Use these September 15-19 Slides and have a great week of Sacred Writing!
                   --Corbett & Dena Harrison (
P.S.  If you've been setting up a solid writer's notebook program since school started, don't forget I announced a Writer's Notebook Metaphor Contest last week; Monday might be a great day to introduce it, and I posted samples that would help you introduce it.
P.S.S.  A final reminder this year that my colleague and friend--Sue Gonyou--created a set of SWT-like slides to use during her classroom history and social studies time.  I enjoyed watching her use those slides with her own kids last week. She has them posted at my website too.  Just click on her name above to visit her page!
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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Another updage from the Harrisons. Enjoy!

In the introduction of A Writer's Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You, Ralph Fletcher establishes a fun metaphor about writer's notebooks being like a ditch he remembers from his childhood.  
I like to have my students create and illustrate original metaphors all throughout September; their metaphors have to be about their plans for how they will be using their own writer's notebooks.
I've decided I want to try hosting our first contest for other teachers at the website; my hope is that it'll become an annual thing.  Since I am now calling September "International Writer's Notebook Month," I am looking for original student metaphors--illustrated--and placed near the front of a new writer's notebook as an inspiration.  The metaphors have to be about writer's notebooks.
I'm celebrating the newly revised Writer's Notebook Resource Page at my website by announcing this contest today, which can be found on that page:  There are some samples from my kids from last year posted.
If the rules don't make sense, please feel free to contact me:  
I'm excited and hope this goes well.  I want to eventually have more opportunities like this at our website.
--Corbett & Dena Harrison
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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Here is an introduction to some changes the Harrisons have made on their Ning.

..finally!  I don't know why my server wasn't allowing me to upload lesson documents this week, but I finally got through this morning, so I have posted it.  If there are any broken links, my apologies, and know I will fix them when I come home from teaching today.
We're trying things differently this year with the Lesson of the Month a nutshell, here are the changes:
1)  First of all, the new layout at my Lesson of the Month page actually features four ideas/resources worth checking out (as well as access to all past Lessons of the Month).  The four are:
         a)  The lesson of the month, of course, which is called "Heart Parks" this month!   It's a good one.
         b)  A featured page from my own writer's notebook to share with your students, if you'd like.
         c)  A vocabulary/writing idea from our vocabulary packet with lots of new student samples from my kids!
         d)  A favorite slide from our Sacred Writing Time slides that's coming up this month!  I am providing a suggestion about how one of this month's prompts might become a bigger writing lesson that your kids will enjoy.
2)  Owners of our Writer's Notebook Bingo this:  This month's writing lesson is kind of special this go-around.  It's part three of a trilogy that I've been working on since 2012.  If you use the link found on the Lesson of the Month page, you will have access to an outline version of all three "Presenting Me!" lessons from the past three Septembers, including the new one--Heart Parks.  Those of you who also have purchased our set of ten Writer's Notebook Bingo Cards, you will recognize the lesson as the "center-square" lesson from the August Bingo Card of topics/ideas.  Because you purchased the 10 Bingo Cards, you should know this: there is a SPECIAL version of the "Heart Park" lesson that contains more samples, a student pre-writing packet, and a special PowerPoint to inspire visual creativity.  So...owners of the 10 Writer's Notebook Bingo Cards...instead of using the link on the Lesson of the Month Page, use the link in the center-square of your August Bingo card and you'll access the bonus materials too.  Don't fret if you didn't buy the whole set of cards; the lesson that is posted at the Lesson of the Month page is completely teach-able without the bonus materials, but I wanted those who supported us by buying the cards to have some extra materials as our way of saying THANKS!
3)  And I am officially declaring September "National Writer's Notebook Month."  My kids, when they read our daily Sacred Writing Time slides, always ask, "How do they come up with these national holidays, Mr. Harrison?"  I honestly don't know, and I can't find an official answer, so I am simply going to declare it NATIONAL WRITER'S NOTEBOOK MONTH!  If you are setting your kids up to love their writer's notebooks using any of the tools from our writer's notebook page, know this: In honor of this self-declared Month of the Notebook, we will begin having small writing contests every Monday.  We will announce them here at the Ning.  Teachers who submit and have their students' ideas chosen as ones I will share with everyone will receive fine rewards.  Starting Monday, look for the first Writer's Notebook Contest of September!
I hope your weekend is great.  I hope you receive this month's featured lesson with enough time to mull it over this weekend and maybe start it next week.  Our kids loved it!
Have a great weekend.  You deserve it.
--Corbett & Dena Harrison (
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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Wow...I'm actually posting the lesson early this month instead of late.  My 9th wedding anniversary falls on August 1, and I always try to spend that day with Dena and not on the computer; then, I'm flying off to present a two-day workshop in Arkansas right before we start up school again.
Our Writing Lesson of the Month:  I have posted the Lesson of the Month, along with my three other new monthly contributions and classroom ideas at this page at the website:  Please note that this month's lesson--"Imp-Int-Exclam Sentence Sets" comes as a PowerPoint file.  If you don't have PowerPoint on the computer you're working from, you can open the PDF-version of the lesson, which can be opened at the bottom of the lesson's description.
Important Update Notice for Those Users Who've Purchased our set of 10 "Vocabulary & Writing Lessons," which we premiered a year ago at our site:  I have been busily updating the 10 lessons that you purchased, adding new details and links to even better student samples for improved student discussion.  By August 5, you will receive an e-mail from me with a download link for the updated versions of the lessons.  It will be sent to the e-mail address you used when you purchased the set of materials. If you do not receive the link by August 5, contact me so that we can update your e-mail address in our database.  Please note: this update will only be sent to those who have actually purchased our "Vocabulary & Writing Materials," which are one of the nine for-sale items we offer at our site.  If you have a different e-mail now, be sure to let me know:
For those of you who head back to school in August (like us): we wish you an excellent first month of school.  Remember, the earlier you can start them liking their writer's notebooks, the more impressive their notebooks will be by year's end.  There are plenty of complimentary ideas and lessons posted on this page to help you start off well:
Have a great end of July, everyone!
--Corbett & Dena Harrison (
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Monday, August 18, 2014

School is beginning and teachers are getting ready. Here is a great resource for the dreaded vocabulary we all hat to teach. Courtesy of Dina and Corbett Harrison.

It's complete as of this morning!  I am really pleased with how my Vocabulary Resource page turned out at our website.  I invite you to look it over; I'm pretty sure you'll all be able to find one usable idea from the many I've posted.  It's my hope of hopes that no one takes my classroom ideas and replicates them exactly; good teaching is about adaptation so that ideas fit the needs of your students and their abilities.  The invitation to adapt has been extended.  
I had an excellent case of insomnia last night and was quite productive, so those of you who purchased my 10 Vocabulary PowerPoint Lessons will have all your updates tomorrow (July 30), not August 5th as I had originally stated.  If you don't receive them and you did purchase the set, let me know, but remember, I'm not working on August 1.  Thanks!
--Corbett & Dena Harrison (
P.S.  I've received numerous e-mails this week from people looking for my colleague's "Transitions in Time" Slides for history curriculum.  Here is the link again:
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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Resources from Corbett and Dina Harrison.

Thanks to those of you who made purchases this last week during our final "Special Rates of the Summer" sale.  We earned enough to keep the Always Write site, this Ning, and the WritingFix site going for another year.  Your generosity is greatly appreciated.
Information you may be interested in if you have purchased our website's products in the last year:
  • All download links have now been sent to those who purchased during this last week; if you didn't receive your download links, let me know...Before writing, know that we've been having some issues with Yahoo and some school e-mail servers mis-labeling us as SPAM.  Check your SPAM or JUNK folder if you didn't receive your link(s), then contact me if your product still isn't there:
  • The Sacred Writing Time slides and our 11 Vocabulary Lessons were all updated this summer, and updates have been sent to all who paid for those products.  If you purchased either product before this summer, and didn't receive either update, contact us at  Make sure you let us know what e-mail you used when you paid for the product(s) through PayPal so that we can verify your purchase.  If you purchased either of those products over the summer of 2014, you did receive the newest version of the product when we sent you the download link.
  • If you ordered our "Reading Workshop Bingo Cards" any time during this last year, know there will be an update to those materials coming out in the next week or two.  We now have created a 6-page "take home" document that you can print and duplicate for your students' binders that briefly explains all 25 of the activities found on the Bingo Activity Card.  It should prove to be a great resource to complement the materials you already have.  Contact us after August 23 if you don't receive the updated materials by then.
If you didn't make a purchase during our final sale of the summer of 2014...Remember that complimentary previews of our most popular products are available.  We want you to try our products out with your students before you decide to buy them, and so we provide the following previews freely:
Dena and I both hope that you can make use of--at least--one of these product previews as the school year begins.  Thanks again for your continued support, and know that some really exciting new stuff will be coming out this school year at the site.
--Corbett & Dena Harrison (
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