Monday, June 29, 2015

More news from the Harrisons with some new titles! Enjoy!

Please help me in congratulating and celebrating several colleagues of mine, three of whom have recently published new materials specifically designed to improve classroom instruction with writing and with critical thinking!
First of all, Jodie Black--local kindergarten teacher extraordinaire--has put out another primary elementary writing resource: "Two Birds: What do I Write? Guide" is now available for preview at her website:  I believe this is Jodie's SIXTH print guide for our youngest writers.  If you know any kindergarten, first, or second grade teacher looking for fresh ideas that strengthen primary writing, refer them to Jodie who has always been my go-to friend because of her expertise with writing curriculum for those specific grade levels.  Beautiful work (as usual), Jodie.
Second, my teaching partner and my teacher-training partner for the last ten years--Holly Young--has published her second children's book, this one with her sister as co-writer.  Holly is one of the best math teachers I know, and her sister (Cathy Morgan) is a beloved high school history teacher just down the street from my school.  They both attended the "Mount Vernon Summer Teaching Institute," and their brand new children's book "Help Wanted at Mt. Vernon" is designed to promote problem-solving skills from young readers.  The book is filled with challenges for the reader to try solving historical and mathematical problems that the Father of our Country had to solve.  These two Northern Nevada teachers are also posting complimentary lesson ideas that go along with their Mt. Vernon book at Holly's professional website: Making Mathematicians.  I just love watching writing across the curriculum in action.  Good work, Holly and Cathy!
You can use the links above to directly access any of the mentioned resources, or you can visit the Ning and read more about each publication: They are the top two stories featured in the Blog this whole week!
If you're growing a garden, I hope it's doing as well as mine!  We Harrisons love the summertime!
--Corbett & Dena Harrison
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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Corbetts will be busy this summer working on some new materials for vocabulary. Take a peak - provided through the llink below. Enjoy.

We are also creating two new packets of materials between now and August 1.  I have now placed a preview of one of those two packets at our Vocabulary Resource Page:   We are having a great time planning  and penning these new materials, and we expect to be offering a pre-sale sometime in July!
--Corbett & Dena Harrison (follow us on Pinterest)
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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Writing is playing a crucial role in the CCSS performance tasks that are heavily weighted on both the PARC and SmarterBalanced. Here is a report that looks at all sides of the issues...and gives thought for teachers to reflect on classroom practices. Courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief.

Experts weigh in on Common Core performance tasks

Tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards include open-ended questions often referred to as performance tasks. This article examines the pros and cons of these questions and whether they are more effective than traditional multiple-choice formats. The Hechinger Report (5/20)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

June's writing lesson from the Harrisons. Enjoy!

I's don't WANT another writing lesson this year, right?  You just want to be rid of this group of kids!  Well..maybe some of you feel that way.
For June, July and August, I try to focus on writing lessons that would be good to start strong with next year and--here's the important part--these lessons start stronger if you take the time to create your own teacher model of the writing task that you can share with them.  So...they are summer homework challenges for you as teachers...if you dare accept such a thing from me.  This month's lesson has a teacher model I love sharing with my kids in September.
Here's June's writing lesson, which is actually a thoroughly revised version of a lesson I've used every year since originally posting it at WritingFix back in 2003:  It teaches a cool little writing technique inspired by author/teacher Stephen Kramer that challenges you to describe what's NOT in an important place before you describe what IS.  As you will see from the posted lesson, there have been many adaptations to this simple-but-effective technique from students over the years who have been introduced to this lesson early on.
Special June 1-15 Savings on our most popular For-Purchase Items:  Rather than be assaulted with new orders in July and August (or two busiest months with our new products that are coming out this summer), Dena and I thought we'd offer a down-and-dirty June 1-15 special for those newer users who have yet to try our five most popular and well-reviewed products.  Check out the special rates which will expire at midnight on June 15:   Regular pricing resumes on June 16, and pre-sales for the new products should start a week or so after that.  AND...if you're one of the dozen or two who bought any of these products during the last week, just email me, and I will refund you the discount after the fact.
Brand New "Club" for our long-time Supporters:  There are a small number of users, we've discovered, who've faithfully purchased most (if not all) of our past for-sale products, and we've decided on creating a special club for those folks.  You can read about it here:  New members are always welcome...just contact us when you've met the criteria!
--Corbett & Dena Harrison (
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