Sunday, February 26, 2012

How drawing on students' prior knowledge can enhance a lesson Courtesy of ASCD

  • Engagement is often about students having a connection to themselves and making it real.  Here is a lesson demonstrating the power of prior knowledge.
    Former teacher and instructional coach Elena Aguilar describes a writing lesson on heroes in which second-grade students defined their version of the word and listed heroes in their lives. Though the lesson veered away from Aguilar's original plan, it prompted a celebration honoring family and community heroes and plans for a classroom-authored book, all of which provided a more authentic learning experience for the students, she writes. Aguilar's blog (1/18) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why teachers should write, read with their students - courtesy of ASCD smart brief

  • Modeling by becoming a part of the reading/writing community is as powerful as ever.
    Online educator Rebecca Alber in this blog post encourages teachers to write and read alongside their students as a way to show them that adults -- even teachers -- also need to clarify, revise or start over with a new topic. "When we model for students our love -- and struggles -- as readers and writers, they will follow. The more our students fall in love with writing and reading, the more of it they will do," she writes. Alber's blog (2/6) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A message to all members of Writing Lesson of the Month Network courtesy of Corbett Harrison

...sharing thoughtful, mentor text-inspired lessons your students will love!

A message to all members of Writing Lesson of the Month Network

Since I posted January's lesson ten days late last month, I decided I'd give it five more days on-line before launching this February's lesson.  After this, we'll be back on the "post on the first day of the month" routine again.  I promise! 
Kindly wish my 8th graders luck this week as they take their State Writing Test this Thursday.  It's been a weird year for our Nevada writing test: it's our first year typing the final drafts on the computer and there has been very little information from anyone in charge on what to expect this week.  I'm not worried though; we've been working on learning the writing process authentically since day one of school, and I know my kids will do just fine because they understand that process.  I've always said, "If you teach writing right, the tests will take care of themselves."  This is the week that will--hopefully--prove that belief once again.
This month's writing lesson and notebook prompt can be accessed using this link:
And remember, all past lessons are archived and can be accessed using this link:
  • The writing lesson of the month for February ("The Skin You're In") is a great way to have students personalize and write about history.  For some reason, we only have 6th grade samples for this historical journal-writing task, so I'm hoping to see some samples from other grades than sixth come out this month!
  • The writer's notebook prompt of the month for February ("16-Word Poems Across the Curriculum") I actually introduced to my kiddos way back in November, but we're now using the format they learned in the Fall two or three times a month now to help us meet Common Core Standards' Writing Across the Curriculum suggestions.  The kids are VERY used to the format now (inspired by the famous William Carlos Williams' poem).  Just this last week, we had two guest speakers from our Nevada Gaming Commission, and students took careful notes, knowing they would have to write four "So Much Depends Upon" poems based on information they heard from our guests.  It worked perfectly.
One more interesting piece of information for a long-time teacher-users:
  • We selected Josephine Nobisso's "Show, Don't Tell!: Secrets of Writing" as our "Mentor Text of the Year" in August.  Within months, all copies at Amazon and Barnes and Noble were completely sold out.  Used copies were being sold for over $500 a copy since then, which is pretty ridiculous, but it shows how many teachers are using our ideas at WritingFix.  We completely exhausted their stock!  I am pleased to announce that--as of last week--Amazon has restocked its shelves and the book is once again being sold for a reasonable, less-than-$20 price.  For those of you who didn't put your order in before the "sell out," well, perhaps better late than never.
Have a great month! 
--Corbett Harrison (Webmaster, &
Visit Writing Lesson of the Month Network at: