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Welcome. My name is Corbett Harrison. I have been an educator since 1990, and a teacher-trainer and University adjunct professor since 1998. I specialize in teaching writing using differentiated instruction techniques. I also focus on critical thinking skills, especially during the pre-writing and revision stages of the writing process. I retired from the classroom in June of 2019, and I will continue to consult with schools, districts, and states who are more interested in developing quality writing plans, not buying from one-size-fits-all writing programs.

Beginning over the summer of 2019, I will be available once again to train teachers your school or district if you would like to hire a qualified and dynamic trainer. You can find general information about my workshops here.

If you would like to check my availability for a specific date or dates for the 2019-20 school year, please contact me at this e-mail address. My calendar is already fillling up with workshop engagements.

 

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Mr. Stick's presence helps my students enjoy looking back through their writer's notebook for ideas for upcoming writer's workshops!

During the 2011-12 school year, I had students who took extra care to make some of their writer's notebook pages stand out. They did this by adding an illustration inspired by my own writer's notebook's "margin mascot," Mr. Stick.

Mr. Stick of the Week Award-Winners from 2011-2012
Below, I invite you to take a close look at the charming, Mr. Stick-inspired notebook work my students are doing during their daily ten minutes of sacred writing time. Below are this school year's awards for "Stick of the Week." Please remember that--at the end of the day--these pages come from writer's notebooks and are--officially--pre-writing. I do not hold spelling or other conventional issues against the students at this step of the writing process.


Our "Writing Trait of the Month" for September 2011 was idea development, and I purposely designed my September Bingo Card's center-square lesson to help students explore many ideas they might write about during our next nine months of Writer's Workshop. 7th grader--Emily--obviously has a knack for keeping art simple with this Alpha-Box lesson. Her drawing for "Parodies" and "Jester performing for a King Narrative " are simply delightful. As a die-hard zombie fan, my favorite, however, is the drawing of her crazy-eyed zombie for her "Undead Survival Guide." Thanks, Emily! Click on the image to be able to zoom in on her individual boxes! Trust me;the aforementioned boxes are worth zooming in on.

One of my 8th graders--Matt--independently started looking through my writer's notebook, which is displayed in my class. He especially liked my Interesting-Sounding Character Names notebook prompt, and he created his own version of my teacher-model that can be found on that page.

Matt, this is an amazingly clever use of putting Mr. Stick in costumes. I think I like your "Stick Knight" the best.

Update: Matt is using his writer's workshop to develop the story of "Cowardly, the Knight," thanks to this notebook page. I can't wait to read the final draft after it goes through the entire writing process.

Rianna is one of my 7th graders who is learning to "observe the world as a writer," and she is using our "Sacred Writing Time" to record those observations. I think this will be a completely fun topic for her to later explore during writer's workshop.

Our "September Book of the Month to Talk about" is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. We've been discussing the story of Theseus and the other thirteen Athenian youths who were sent to Crete to wander through the labyrinth with the minotaur, and we've been comparing this myth to Katniss's situation in the novel.

Here 6th grader--Mimi--has recorded and added captions to her favorite moments from the story of Theseus. Mimi, thanks for always taking your notebook home to add color to your pages. Your notebook is amazing!

Each month, I am launching a "Gifted & Talented Writer's Notebook Challenge" for my students who are gifted and motivated; I certainly have an abundance of them this school year. If they finish early in class, I direct them to work on it, and it's purposely hard.

My September challenge was called "Homophone Comics," and 6th grader--Hannah-- created a page of four comics. By far, this one was my favorite from her collection. I always love to see Mr. Stick with wild and crazy hair. Hey Hannah, thanks for always caring about your writer's notebook entries!

Our "Trait of the Month" for October 2011 was Word Choice. I sometimes encourage my students to put two random, interesting words together, then sketch or write about what comes to mind. My 7th grader, Garrett, has a sharp sense of humor; here is what he recorded in his writer's notebook upon putting the words vampire and gossip side by side . Hey, Garrett, I'll forgive your sometimes extra-chattiness if you keep coming up with original thoughts like this! Oh, Baby Got Back!

We've been working on our personal recipe pages in our writer's notebooks--since it is the "center box lesson" in the middle of our October Bingo Card. One of my 7th graders--Sarah--took great pride in making sure her recipe for a "Perfect Cruising Day" caught my attention as I wandered the rows, checking their work this week.

Sarah, thanks taking such great pride in your notebook pages and your Mr. Stick drawings! You totally deserve the "Mr. Stick" Edmodo badge I am sending you this week!

I collected writer's notebooks today (October 21), and I was struck by 7th-grader Ian's use of a circular frame on his personal recipe page (the center assignment on our October Bingo Card) to make his simple Mr. Stick drawing stand out. It's all about placement sometimes. I forgive those misspellings, Ian, and honor your natural sense of layout.

Ian, thanks for seeing the value of including the visual on your pages, and I appreciate your sense of design, sir!

I normally don't want my students working for more than three days (10 minutes per day during Sacred Writing Time) on single entries for their writer's notebook, but I gave 7th-grader Gwen free reign to finish her "weird school day" comic she began last week. I'm not sure how many SWT sessions went into this, but I love how she tied one of her favorite topics--teddy bears--into this six-panel notebook comic. I'm certain if I ask Gwen, "Tell me how this can become a piece of writing during the next writer's workshop," that she'll have plenty of ideas for rough drafts from her. And that is the purpose of a writer's notebook!

Hey Gwen, you've gone to great efforts to give Mr. Stick your own personal style here...I appreciate your writer's notebook so much. Keep up the amazing work, and I hope this becomes a story for a future writer's workshop!

Our trait of the month for November became organization after I noticed my students were having trouble with paragraphs. While checking writer's notebooks as my students practiced their paragraphing-planning skills last week, I noticed that 6th-grader Tayler had taken such great care while crafting his science-inspired recipe metaphor for the second page of his "Life is a Recipe" metaphor page. I just had to choose his recipe as last week's "Mr. Stick of the Week" award winner. Last month, our trait of the month was word choice, and you can see how this affected Tayler's creative use of kitchen verbs.

I also noticed Tayler was working on a third recipe for his notebook the other day. The first two recipes were required, but now he's taken a liking to the format and is using it to pre-write about his own ideas.

Our "Writing Trait of the Month" for October 2011 was word choice, and our students were working on a "Human Impact on the Wetlands" Project. For our Recipe Metaphor task in our writer's notebooks (from our classroom's October Bingo Card of writer's notebook ideas) , I required my students to choose a science topic for the right-side of their two page spread. Many of my students--like 7th grader Julia here--created science-inspired recipes based on that project. You've got a great notebook, Julia! Thanks for keeping it so nice and thoughtful.

Julia wanted me to explain that the stickman looking over the wetlands on the right side of the page is crying two blue tears; her stickman does not have a lopsided nose!

Our classroom "GT Notebook Challenge" for October 2011 was my Blueprint Storyboard assignment, which I was inspired to create after finding a great, wordless picture book this summer while visiting a book store in Ashland, Oregon: P.T.A. Night by Jeremy R. Scott. One of my goals with writer's notebooks is that, after students write/draw in them, I like them to explain what they've added and discuss their thinking that went into their entries. My students have such great conversations when they are explaining mostly wordless notebook entries (like the example above) to each other. A huge missing piece of the pre-writing step in writing is the "talking your writing ideas out loud before writing anything phase" (as I call it).

I received a lot of great storyboards from my students during October (click here to see them all), but I thought 7th grader Keely's use of Mr. Stick on her storyboard was particularly charming. Keely, not only are you a great writer (thanks to all those NNWP TWIST Camps, right?), but you are also a great storyboard designer. I can just hear you explaining all the stories in this storyboard out loud to your friends!

After we read Poe's "The Telltale Heart" the week after Halloween, I challenged my students to write a first-person account using the voice of an incredibly guilty or incredibly mad (insane) person. Here, 7th-grader Conner, added a great Mr. Stick illustration after he did ten or fifteen minutes of free-writing in his notebook, using my challenge.

Conner, I honor your excellent attempt at putting Mr. Stick in a three-dimensional location. Your notebook is always a pleasure to look through, sir. Keep up the excellent work.

Because of my abundance of Gifted & Talented students this school year, I have been developing a series of nine GT Writer's Notebook Challenges (one per month is the plan). I send the students the link over Edmodo, and they do it completely on their own for extra credit and a prize from Mr. Harrison. The November challenge was all about puns--Tom Swiftie puns, to be precise--, and I've been delighted by my students' ability to a) use puns and b) punctuate dialogue almost flawlessly. Here are the Tom Swift puns from Colette, one of my kindest 7th graders! Colette, you really mastered the concept of the pun with the four you turned in! Great work!

The November "Writer's Notebook Lesson of the Month" from our classroom Bingo Cards was the "16-word Poem" lesson, which I adapted based on one my wife's best pre-writing lessons. Throughout the month, my students imitated one of William Carlos Williams' most famous poems and applied its structure to lessons they've been learning in math, history, and science.

7th grader Guillermo's cartoon to accompany his 16-word poem based on science lab safety just made me laugh out loud, so I have chosen it as the "Stick of the Week" for the second week of December. Keep making me laugh, Gil.

Again, our November "Writer's Notebook Lesson of the Month" from our classroom Bingo Cards was the "16-word Poem" lesson, which I adapted based on one my wife's best pre-writing lessons. I believe W. C. Williams's original "So Much Depends Upon" poem uses simple imagery to capture a scene based on simple "life pleasures" that were personal to the poet; one of the four poems each student created had to do the same.

7th grader Wonje's cartoons to accompany her 16-word "life" poem--whether intentional or not--used the same simplistic technique the mentor text poet did with his words: nothing fancy, a splash of color, but a real message that life can be pleasurable. Nice work, Wonje!

Our classroom's December "Writer's Notebook Gifted & Talented Challenge of the Month" was the "Artistic Neighbors and Angry Letters" lesson, which is based on one of my favorite mentor texts: When Pigasso Met Mootisse by Nina Laden.

7th grader Sarah's two-page illustration and detailed letter to "Mr. Mozart" had her practicing persuasive skills in a fun way, and I hope she's inspired to consider writing an expository piece about her chosen artist at a future writer's workshop.

The December's "Writer's Notebook Lesson of the Month" from our classroom Bingo Cards was the "Personified Vocabulary Word" lesson, which really took off; click here to see some of the "runners-up." Students had to create jobs, outfits, and/or personalities for some of the vocabulary words they were proud to already know.

7th grader Bree's two stick-figures in such peculiar (but appropriate) costuming really caught my attention! Bree, don't ever let your overly-creative side lose an argument to your logical side; I think your pictures alongside your writing here show off both sides of your abilities. And keep reminding me how to say that second word of yours correctly!

The December's "Writer's Notebook Lesson of the Month" from our classroom Bingo Cards was the "Personified Vocabulary Word" lesson, which really took off; click here to see some of the "runners-up." Students had to create jobs, outfits, and/or personalities for some of the vocabulary words they were proud to already know.

8th grader Isaac, one of my more competitive-minded students, really wanted to earn a "Mr. Stick of the Week" Award once he realized there was a weekly contest going on. I think Isaac wouldd make a great politician in the future; he truly campaigned for this page from his notebook after putting in some obvious effort and thought into the task.

I was very lucky this year in that my teaching team's science instructor--Miss Maldonado--taught our students how to draw "Mr. Stick" before I had a chance to. She needed our kids to include an illustration during the first week of school, and so when it came time for me to need an illustration during the second week, they already knew what to do! I was so grateful.

I noticed this week that one of my 7th grader's, Del, had recently recreated that drawing lesson from the first week of school using original words. This "Anatomy of a Mr. Stick" page not only captures all the Mr. Stick essentials, but it now includes some original voice that only Del could have given it.

Thanks, Del, for having such a voice of your own!

OK, this writer's notebook entry in your notebook totally charmed me. "Mr. Stick 101," eh? I hope someday I am really allowed to teach this class. If I do, this student will be one of my first guest speakers.

Here, 7th grader Jordan took ten minutes of sacred writing time to impress "the stick out of me" with his favorite ideas for Mr. Sticks in costumes and Mr. Sticks in a variety of other forms. If I had to chose a favorite, I think I'd have to settle on Merstick in the first row, but I also like how the Giant just takes up such a huge chunk of the page. I so appreciate proportion!

Hey Jordan, I know I stay on your case about keeping focused sometimes, but when you do stuff like this, I want you nowhere else but in my classroom. Thank you, young man.

One of my new options for our latest Reading Workshop projects, which were due in early February, was to create a "Mr. Stick Storyboard" for their independent novels' "most exciting scene." I like it when my non-notebook assignments give them an opportunity to use Mr. Stick.

Here, 8th grader Alex shares two panels from a storyboard based on Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Click on the image to see more of this storyboard. I always appreciate seeing a nice little army of stick people, Alex.

Another of my new options for our latest Reading Workshop projects, which were due in early February, was to create three "Scrapbook Pages" designed by one of their novels' main characters. They weren't required to use Mr. Stick on these scrapbook pages, but he kept making an appearance, I noticed.

Here, 7th grader Danielle shares one of her three scrapbook pages inspired by Code Orange by Caroline Cooney. Danielle, your entire scrapbook was amazing. I am going to proudly feature at the Reading Workshop Project page too!

Here's another of my new options for our latest Reading Workshop projects: a "Mr. Stick Storyboard" for their independent novels' "most exciting scene." I like it when my non-notebook assignments give them an opportunity to use Mr. Stick.

Here, 7th grader Andrea shares several panels from a storyboard based on Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer. Click on the image to see more of this storyboard. You captured the fight scene between Otis and DiAldo nicely, Andrea.

Our January Bingo Card's "Center Square Lesson" focused on love metaphors and metaphors across the curriculum. Each student ended up creating two metaphors about love (in honor of February's Hallmark holiday), and two about topics from history, math, or science.

Here one of my kindest 7th graders--Grace--created a nice metaphor comparing history to a snowglobe. I'll be sure to show this to Mrs. Gonyou (our history teacher), Grace. Nice work!

Our January Bingo Card's "Center Square Lesson" focused on love metaphors and metaphors across the curriculum. Each student ended up creating two metaphors about love (in honor of February's Hallmark holiday), and two about topics from history, math, or science.

Here one of my more ambitious 7th grade writers--Jorge--created a basic metaphor comparing love to a dance. His metaphor was a simile, and was not as thorough as his six-page rough drafts, but I loved those Mr. Stick dancers. Nice work, Jorge.

Our February Extra Credit Notebook Challenge of the Month was the alliteratively-titled 26 Super, Serendipitous Skills & Superhero Story, which had students create an alpha-list of unique skills a superhero might possess, then create the "origin story" of a superhero who actually had several powers from the list.

I had some great Mr. Stick illustrations for this lesson, from all three of the grade levels. I'll start this first week of February by honoring 7th grader Brooke, whose red-headed superhero bears a striking resemblence to this hero's creator. Click the image above to see Brooke's entire two-page dedication to her unique superhero.

Continuing with the February Extra Credit Notebook Challenge of the Month--26 Super, Serendipitous Skills & Superhero Story--I'll honor Conor (hey, that rhymes!) one of my eighth graders.

For this extra-credit challenge, students had to not only create (and illustrate) an alpha-list of super-skills, but they had to create an illustrated "origin story," which is what Conor's picture above represents. Nice work and excellent use of color, Conor!

Continuing with the February Extra Credit Notebook Challenge of the Month--26 Super, Serendipitous Skills & Superhero Story--I'll honor sixth-grader Ryan with this alpha-list page based on the super-skills he brainstormed.

Mostly, I love it when I have sixth graders already usinng great words like prehensile, replication, and manipulation. Way to bust out those 50-cent words, Ryan! Leaping Lizards! You are the "Boy Wonder of Vocabulary!"

Our February "Center Square Lesson" on our Writer's Notebook Bingo Cards was one of my favorites: Start & Stop Poetry. Over the month, students had to compose five of these poems: two about personal topics, one about math, one abote science, and one about history.

Here is a great Mr. Stick from one of my eighth grader's notebooks. Congratulations, Chris, for this out-standing page of interesting poems and observations. Click the image above to see Chris's two-page notebook spread of Start & Stop Poems.

During February, my amazing teaching team and I all took a class together to earn some inservice credits and do some upcoming planning. We watched a Michael Jordan video as part of the class, and I knew one of the four of us would show that video to the students.

Well, it turned out to be Mrs. Gonyou is social studies who showed it, and I kept hearing the kids talk about the impact it had on their thinking. I found this Mr. Stick tribute to the quote in the video by Bennett, one of my sixth graders.

The Arrival of The Hunger Games movie inspired a lot of writer's notebook entries and a lot of great Mr. Stick appearances. 8th grader--Crissey--created this tribute to the tributes of the games.

7th grader--Bree-handed in a notebook that shared this personal tribute to Katniss Everdeen, the amazing heroine of The Hunger Games. I always appreciate an entry where the student writes his/her thoughts, then uses the remaining page to decorate with Mr. Stick.

Another rendition of Katniss Everdeen from the notebook of 7th grader--Keely. My guided lesson of the month for March (from our monthly Notebook Bingo Cards) was my Rhyming Slogans across the Curriculum lesson. Based on the mentor text from that lesson, students must first write rhyming slogans that convince a monster or cannibal not to eat them. Keely applied her rhyming slogans to a favorite book character.

While Keely used Katniss for her Rhyming Slogans across the Curriculum, 7th grader Kage went all 1970's on this assignment. We did have spirit week during March, which had a "Dress as your Favorite Decade Day," but Kage didn't dress disco; he dressed like a 1940's gangster. So, I am not sure where Kage's inspiration for this perm-clad dancer came from, but it sure amused me.

As a technique for pre-writing, we toyed with "Top Ten Lists" (decalgues) during March and April, and sixth grader Jacie couldn't limit herself to a mere ten things she liked about camping. Here is Jacie's nicely-illustrated tribute to camping, which she then turned into a paper for her writing workshop portfolio. Jacie, thanks so much for always going above and beyond with your notebook!

I normally don't succumb to direct pandering as a means to win a "Mr. Stick of the Week," but I enjoyed this page a little too much. Here's a "Top Ten List" (Decalogue) about me written by my seventh grader Austin. I am friends with Austin's mother, and I was a little disturbed that he thinks my wife's Madonna albums (see item #6) are mine, but I shall not argue. Thanks, Austin, for the tribute to my favorite topic: me!

A lot of my students record and illustrate funny (and clean!) jokes on a page (or two) they set-up early on in the school year for that very purpose. I really liked how seventh grader Dani took this idea to inspire a page of "inside jokes" that she and her friends have in their Strings Class. Even though I understand only a few of these esoteric quips, I love that recording them here is giving Dani a unique set of memories from that class. Perhaps you'll write a narrative about strings class next year, Dani?

All right , my sixth grader Audrey has so much voice in her writer's notenbook that I often roar with laughter as I read her pages. She takes her notebook home with her, and sadly it has begun to fall apart. I don't know if the story told here is true or not, but the idea that a page falling out of her writer's notebook received a funeral in her backyard is amazing wonderful. I adore your voice, Audrey!

One of my favorite Mr. Stick poses is what I call the "Mr. Stick leaning into the room so you don't have to draw his/her legs." My seventh grader Adrienne captured that pose beautifully with the poster she created for our Mr. Stick of the Year Extra Credit Contest that is going on this May. Adrienne, you always try so hard to win these silly contests I sponsor! I'm glad you finally received a "Mr. Stick of the Week" badge.

I normally expect a bit more writing and a little less stickman on my students' notebook pages than what you see here, but I forgave sixth grader Jenny because I heard her talk about and explain this picture to her classmates. One thing I really encourage is that my students tell their stories out loud to each other before writing rough drafts; out-loud pre-writing is missing from too many classrooms. Students benefit from saying their stories out loud, and they benefit from hearing the oral stories of others.

I also chose Jenny's page (at left) because I wanted to place her brother's notebook page right next to it online here. I have no twin siblings this year, but with 6th through 8th graders, I have several brother/sister sets. Jenny and her brother, seventh grader Eric, are both such great down-to-earth kids. Our April center-square from our Monthly Bingo Cards for Writer's Notebooks focused on "Superlative Paragrahs ," and here are Eric's two passages about the two writing traits with which he feels most confidence.

While seventh grader Eric (see above) chose Voice and Sentence Fluency as his personal best writing traits, eighth grader Taylor chose Idea Development and Conventions as her strongest traits. This notebook lesson from the center-square on our Monthly Bingo Cards will completely set me up to build response/revision groups next Fall. Next fall, my students will be grouped with those who self-selected different writing trait skills, and my kids who see Conventions as a strength will become class leaders on our "Community of Editors" days.

My final "Mr. Stick of the Week" winner had to go to seventh grader Toni, who is sharing the second page of her "Superlative Paragraphs" page here. If you click on the image above, you will be able to see both pages from the "center square" lesson from our Monthly Bingo Cards for Writer's Notebooks. When I started using Mr. Stick many years ago, I dubbed him my notebook's "Margin Mascot," and Toni's page really reminded me of where Mr. Stick began. Of course, now he's all over the page in my notebook--not confined to the margins--but Toni here helped me remember where it all began.

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