Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Here is a great resource for all teachers from Corbett and Dena Harrison. It is right on time for school! Enjoy!

Hello, Teacher & Writer Friends,
Since I was a few days late posting the lesson last month, this month I'll be a few days early.  Actually, Dena and I celebrate our 8th anniversary on August 1st, and we'll be driving home that day from two-day sneak-away, so I have to post now; it'll be the first time we leave puppy Tucker in the hands of our house-sitter, and Dena is nervous about her "baby."
My wife and I have spent the past month working on our two new classroom products.  My project--10 Common Core-Friendly Vocabulary Lessons--is showing strong interest and sales, which is nice, and two of the package's ten vocabulary/writing lessons are posted for anyone to peruse, in case you want to determine if this new product will work for you or not; click this link to preview the two PowerPoints and read about ordering the product.  Dena's project--Reader's Notebook Bingo Cards--has been drafted; we are revising the  online instructions that come with each of the 25 writing-about-reading prompts and challenges, and we are fancy-ing up the layout of the Bingo Cards themselves.  Dena's new project should be ready for pre-sale in the next two weeks.
Here are this month's writing lesson and writer's notebook prompt:
  • August's Lesson:  Finding Unique Antonyms & Fixing Mr. Dickens' Comma Splices  So each of our new 10 Common Core-Friendly Vocabulary Lessons comes with not only a PowerPoint lesson that's pretty easy to follow and teach from, but also each lesson comes with direct access to a complementary on-line lesson that can be used right before showing the PowerPoint lesson or right after.  One of the vocabulary lessons is on antonyms and synonyms, for example, and there is an online writing lesson that focuses on the same topic.  This month's writing lesson is the lesson that can accompany the PowerPoint Vocabulary Lesson on antonyms and synonyms.
  • August's Notebook Prompt:  The Acropolis of Acronym Tasks  Early on, I believe you need to set up the notion that a writer's notebook's pages can become collections of things: words, phrases, titles, jokes, puns, quotations, etc.  I like my students to learn how English words were formed, and we do writing tasks when we learn a new etymology technique.  Acronyms (and initialisms) are interesting words to be aware of, and they are fun to poke fun at, as this writer's notebook page task attempts to do.  This prompt has students play three games with acronyms--each game is designed to tap into a different part of the thinker's brain.
We report back to school on the 7th here in Northern Nevada, and we have the kids back on the 12th.  If you're in a similar boat, I hope your transition back is a smooth one.  If you still have most of the month to play, then play!
--Corbett & Dena Harrison
Visit Writing Lesson of the Month Network at:

Friday, July 19, 2013

A summer update from Corbett and Dena Harrison. Enjoy's a week late, but that's a sign I am enjoying my summer as well as creating new materials and lessons.  
The "Writing Lesson of the Month" and the "Writer's Notebook Prompt of the Month" have both been posted.  Here is quick access to both of them:
  • Lesson: Ridiculous Essays (inspired by the mentor text "Green Eggs and Ham") -- since it's July and most of us are relaxing, I'm posting a fun one I ended the year with.  Don't tell me you can't be teaching Common Core and also have a lesson that has them in stitches!
  • Notebook Prompt: Pangrams (inspired by the mentor text "Fox") -- a pangram is a word game wherein you create an original sentence that contains all 26 letters of the alphabet.  "The quick fox jumps over a lazy dog" is one of the shortest ones that makes total sense.  This challenge asks students to create and illustrate two original pangrams over the month.  This would be a fun one to add to your own writer's notebooks--all you teachers whom I've convinced that it's imperative to have your own writer's notebook too!
Common Core Vocabulary & Writing Update!
If you've supported our website and purchased any of our classroom-ready resources in the past (, you will be receiving a special e-mail from us in the next 24 hours which will direct you to a special page at the website.  From that page, this week only (until this Friday at midnight), you can pre-order our latest product for authentic student learning: 8 Common Core Vocabulary & Writing Lessons.  For being a past customer you will have a 3-day window to purchase for $14.00, which is $3.50 (20%) off the asking price when they officially are released on July 15.  
On Saturday, July 13, the finalized 8 PowerPoints (actually 9 because there's an introduction one too--and they're with our editor right now) will be sent to all who past customers who pre-order some time before Friday night.  On Monday, the 15th, the new vocabulary packet will go up for sale to the public.
There will eventually be 10 PowerPoint lessons with this packet (of course, I discovered two new ones at a class this summer that I will adapt into PowerPoint form before school starts and add to the package).  All who pre-order and purchase in July will receive an updated link for the product in August with the additional two PowerPoint lessons.  So...this has ten lessons; here is a sample lesson from the packet, if you have PowerPoint to preview it with.  Here it is in PDF format without the fun animations between slides that PPT does.  
Dena's Reader's Notebook Bingo Card project is well under way too, and we expect the pre-sale for those to happen at the end of July.
--Corbett & Dena Harrison (
P.S.  If you know you've been a past customer of our website and DON'T receive a special e-mail by Wednesday morning, please feel free to contact me for the special website address:
Bookmark and Share

Sunday, July 7, 2013

I am posting the following article for all educators - but am asking this audience to think about the implications technology will have in the area of writing, i.e. focus on research, use of the keyboard, collaborative writing, etc. - courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief.

Technology changes the role of school librarians
The role of the school librarian has changed in Massachusetts and elsewhere, with some districts turning librarians into technology specialists and others eliminating the positions entirely. Fairhaven Public Schools Superintendent Robert Baldwin said his district eliminated librarian positions in favor of hiring technology specialists. "The instructional technology teachers are not just going to be teaching the students, they're going to be teaching the adults how to integrate technology into their instruction," he said. "I look at it as expanding and enhancing the role." (New Bedford, Mass.) (tiered subscription model) (7/1)Bookmark and Share

Monday, July 1, 2013

Here is some information for teachers to prepare for next year. First is a letter from Corbett Harrison regarding a vocabulary program he is working on and second is a great course - offered by Choice Literacy - for primary teachers that align the common core with beginning writers. Enjoy!

Shhhh.  I know I'm supposed to be on vacation this week and not posting anything, but Dena is taking a well-deserved nap after her brutal session of physical therapy today, and I just completed the PowerPoint for what I think is the dullest writing task of the ten writing tasks that our new vocabulary project offers students: listing synonyms and antonyms.  And I think the Powerpoint actually turned out really interesting, so I am sneaking out a sneak peek to any of you who are interested.
Last year, I had a lot of students automatically choose the create an antonym/synonym list option each week as one of their vocabulary tasks because--I believe--they thought it would be an easy task.  I'm pleased at how I am "upping" the expectations this year, which the PowerPoint shows off nicely, I believe; I even included a vocabulary-seeking lesson at the end inspired by the great Willa Cather's writing.  Take that, Common Core!  You can see what I mean by perusing the PDF version of this next-to-last Powerpoint lesson for this latest project of ours!  Woo-hoo!  I'm almost finished!
If you're interested in seeing how I am now approaching the antonym/synonym requirements next year, take a gander:   Feedback?  Always appreciated...
And my apologies for the advertising...but the first slide at the link above is my final reminder that on July 1st, all our for-sale products will go up a tad-bit in price to affray rising costs of keeping our websites online.  I appreciate all of you who have supported us over the years, and I thank you in advance for your continued interest in the work Dena and I are doing to strengthen both the art and science of teaching writing well in this age of Common Core.
Oooh!  I think I hear Dena waking up in the next room.  Need to go.  Tomorrow is her birthday, and she has been promised that I won't even turn on my computer at all. is her e-mail, if you want to wish her a happy birthday tomorrow!  Or you can tell her at her profile page here at the Ning: Take care!  Enjoy summer!
--Corbett Harrrison

 Katie DiCesare is leading a online class for Choice Literacy next month. Katie's course, Designing Primary Writing Units with the Common Core in Mind, is offered July 8 - 15

Workshop full-size photo 235px wide

Workshop: Designing Primary Writing Units with the Common Core in Mind (July 8 - 15)

Format: Online Course
Grade(s): K, 1st, 2nd
Topic(s): Teaching Writing, Common Core

The Common Core is changing instruction in grades K-2 classrooms across the country, with teachers reconsidering both the content and the skills tackled in their writing units. Katie DiCesare will guide participants through the process of designing writing units linked to the Common Core. Through webcasts, readings, video viewing, and online discussions with Katie and classmates, participants will:
Explore how research-based classroom design and routines lay the groundwork for all learning in the class.
Consider how to build community in a way that promotes student collaboration and achievement.
Delve into planning tools and resources.
Learn how to integrate formative assessment through writing units.
Analyze student work within the framework of Common Core standards.
Browse literature and technology resources that enhance and support student learning during writing units.
View examples of Katie guiding students as they write their way through three Common Core based units focus on personal narratives, literary character development, and opinion writing.
Participants will receive access to three webcasts, the Two Workshops DVD (a $159 value) detailed personal response from Katie, and a one-month subscription to Choice Literacy.
Choice Literacy members receive a $50 discount off the $295 course fee. Just be sure to log into your membership account before checkout to receive the discount.
Katie DiCesare

Katie DiCesare has worked as an educator for 14 years in a number of roles including kindergarten, first, and second grade, primary literacy support and middle school math teacher. She enjoys contributing and presenting for Choice Literacy and is featured in the Two Workshops DVD. You can follow Katie at her blog Creative Literacy.
  • Location(s) and Map

shopping cart icon

Bookmark and Share