Welcome. My name is Corbett Harrison, and I have been an educator and a teacher-trainer since August of 1990. I specialize in teaching writing using differentiated instruction. I also focus on critical thinking techniques, especially during the pre-writing and revision steps of the writing process. Every year, I challenge myself to improve my instruction: I am curretly developing grammar and vocabulary lessons so that they're differentiated and promote deep, critical thinking skills, and I incorporate them into my classroom routines to promote a student-centered classroom environment.

The Northern Nevada district I serve has a "balanced calendar" that has me teaching from early August to early June, and during my 7 weeks of summer and during my two annual two-week breaks, I independently contract to present workshops to school districts and professional organizations around the country.

The winter and spring of 2017 are mostly booked up at this point. Beginning in mid-June, I will be available to present at summer workshops in your district or state.

You can find general information about my workshops here.

If you would like to check my availability for summer of 2017, please contact me at this e-mail address.

Always
Write

 
       Because writing--when taught right--can be the most enjoyable part of your teaching day, I created this website.

the "always write" homepage | email me | writingfix | pinterest | facebook | teachers pay teachers | twitter | youtube | lesson of the month  

Is this one of my students finding this page, or a fellow teacher? Either way, are you ready for a real notebook challenge?

Below you will find a special page from my writer's notebook that I don't show everyone. I only show it to my students who are ready for a real challenge. I dare you to look over the photo from my writer's notebook page below, to look over my explanation of where the idea came from, and to create your own notebook page to rival mine. You up for the dare? You don't have to perfectly copy me, but I expect both care and color on these pages you make from these challenges.

A Writer's Notebook Extra Credit Challenge: Four Homophone Comics for your Writer's Notebook
As a kid, I had a book by Fred Gwynne called A Chocolate Moose for Dinner. Mr. Gwynne (who also played Herman Munster on TV's The Munsters) created a book of cartoons based on homophones, which are differently spelled words that sound alike but have different meanings. Here are nine sets of pretty common homophones. Can you come up with the missing word on the last column without any help? If you can't, come ask me in class!
  • there, their, and their
  • you're and your
  • it's and its
  • due and dew
  • ball and bawl
  • ad and add
  • or, ore, and _____
  • seas, sees, and _____
  • pair, pear, and _____

What Fred Gwynne did for his book is he took a homophone he'd thought of (moose and mousse, for example), and he transposed them; normally, we'd think of chocolate mousse being served with our dinner, so he asked, "What if it was chocolate moose instead?" And he drew it as a cartoon.

Looking at my list of homophones above, ask yourself these crazy questions?

  • Instead of a bill saying payment due, what if it said payment dew? What visual comes to your head?
  • Instead of shouting, "Throw me a ball," what if your friend shouted, "Throw me a bawl"? What visual comes to mind?
  • What if, instead of an ad campaign, a company had an add campaign? What would that look like?

If you can think like this, you could make a great imitation of Fred Gwynne's book.

But my challenge is to do something a little more original! What I like to do is think of less-common and more-creative homophones (sighed and side, for example) and figure out how to put them a single sentence together: "My side still hurts," the patient sighed. Or: He pulled to the side and sighed. Or:_________________________________ (Can you think of a better one for these homophones?)

What I've done is create a Homophone Cartoon Page in my writer's notebook. I didn't create the whole page in one sitting; instead, I planned it out over a week, listening carefully to words I heard and words I had read, asking, "Is there an interesting homophone in there somewhere?" I found some interesting and creative ones that became the basis of my notebook page.

For example, I heard myself using the adjective summery to describe the afternoon in June. I immediately also thought of the word summary, which is a type of writing I teach my students. I asked my wife what a summery summary might be, and we thought of one of those "Here's what I did over my summer vacation" essay assignments. My first cartoon was born.

A few weeks later, while walking our dogs, we noticed a thicket of bushes we hadn't noticed before. Dena said, "That's a nice copse they have there," and I didn't know that word. I asked her what it meant, and she told me a small group of trees or bushes. We both like homophones, so I asked her how we could put cops and copse in the same sentence. When I came home, I was ready to make my second cartoon.

While driving past Kohl's a few days later, I thought of Kohl's coals when I saw that store's sign.

Finally, just the other day, while playing our X-Box Kinect, I yelled, "You're up!" when it was Dena's turn, and she yelled "Asia!" from the next room. I figured out how to put Europe and You're up in the same sentence; just so you know, it's not officially a homophone if it's more than one word, but I took the liberty of including it on the page anyway.

If you're taking on this challenge for a writer's notebook page, I don't want you to quickly cartoon the first four, one-syllable homophones that come to mind. Sale and sail are too easy! I want you to spend two-four weeks really savoring words that you hear and words that you read. I want some unique homophones. I tried to model some pretty original homophone cartoons, and I'd like you to attempt to have ones that are original as well. Surprise me and yourself by finding a homophone or two that you're really proud of.

If you click here or on the thumbnail image of my writer's notebook page at right, you can see/print a larger version of my page.


A final challenge for my students or for my fellow teachers using this lesson idea: I know some of you will take this challenge and create a fun page in your writer's notebook that celebrates language and homophones. I dare you to take a photograph of your finished page and post it as an attachment at this page that I set-up at WritingFix's Ning. You will have to become a member of the Ning in order to post. Click here to visit the posting page I set-up specifically for this lesson! If you post it here, you could very well have your finished page seen by thousands of teachers and students who use my website every year! Make sure what you post is pretty good stuff!

Samples Shared by my Wonderful Students
I don't assign these GT Challenges of mine. I simply tell my gifted students to seek them out independently and give an extra credit point and a prize to anyone who does a good job with the task. I make a big deal out of it whenever a student completes the task, and that generates further interest in these lessons of mine. Here are some great examples that my students independently created and shared with me.

Click each image to see it in larger form.

Sixth Grader Hannah Shared her Notebook Page:
Eighth Grader Chris Shared his Notebook Page:

Click here for a REALLY large version of this image that you can zoom in on.

Click here for a REALLY large version of this image that you can zoom in on.

 

Return to the Top of the Page