Welcome. My name is Corbett Harrison, and I have been an educator since 1990, and a teacher-trainer 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 steps of the writing process. Every year, I challenge myself to improve my writing instruction even more, and this website is where I post my most successful new ideas.

I have been on hiatus from doing out-of-state teacher trainings recently for two reasons: 1) I'm writng a book on teaching writing, and 2) I'm preparing to retire from the classroom at the end of the 2018-19 school year.

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

If you would like to verify my availability for a specific date or dates starting in June of 2019, please contact me at this e-mail address.



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

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Contact me through my e-mail address with questions/comments about this lesson: Corbett@CorbettHarrison.com

Here's one of my writer's notebook suggestions for my students. It comes with a teacher model. I hope my model inspires you to create your own to show your student writers. To assist our students as they maintain writer's notebooks for the classroom, my wife (Dena Harrison) and I created monthly "Writer's Notebook Bingo Cards"; the first card is for September, the last for May. Each Bingo card comes with twenty-four ideas and suggestions for creating a unique notebook page that--once added to the notebook--might very well inspire future writing. Students receive a new Bingo card on the first day of every month; if they create a "Bingo" by completing five ideas "in a row," they earn a special sticker for their notebook, and the same award is applied if they make a "four corners." I have students who choose not to use the Bingo card's suggestions at all (because they have their own ideas ready-to-go), I have others who do a few suggestions from the card but not enough to win a sticker, and I have students who are completely dependent on the card for notebook ideas.

On several months' cards in our Bingo Card Set, you'll find this option: "Attach an image (photo, magazine, etc.) to a notebook page. Write about it!" On this page, you'll find two example pages from my personal notebook that I show my students as a model.

Click here for information on ordering our complete set of Writer's Notebook Bingo Cards.

Inspiring Students to Personalize their Writer's Notebooks:

A Teacher-Model to Encourage Strong Writer's Notebook Entries from Students:
Writing "Photo Memories"

This is a pretty simple idea, but I find students do a much better job with this notebook suggestion if they see a model from you...their teacher.

There are a lot of photo prompt collections out there that you can purchase. I like Hank Kellner's Write What You See (pictured at right), but I also like A Picture is Worth 1000 Words: Image-Driven Story Prompts and Exercises for Writing by Phillip Sexton. But if you want so save yourself some money, start creating your own collection of photos to share. I prefer my students to find a photo from their lives (rather than magazines) for this writing prompt, but I ultimately let my writers use magazine pictures too; I strongly discourage them to not choose magazine clippings of celebrities, as the writing they usually do about celebrities is pretty weak.

You know, on our digital cameras or in drawers at home, most of us have pictures that may not ever make it into our scrapbooks or photo albums. To me, these types of photos potentially might make excellent writing prompts. Here at my website, I feature a page of some favorite photos that are neither in a photo album or a scrapbook; I think they're all really great photos that would serve nicely to inspire my own writing...or they would inspire stories from my students. (My students really like to make-up fictional stories based on my photos or photos they obtain from friends, do yours?)

After I show my kiddos my online photos that I think would make interesting writing prompts for me (and/or I show them WritingFix's Photo Prompt Page), I challenge them to look for two or three photos at home and to bring them in (or scans of them) as possible writing prompts for their own notebooks. Usually, I ask them to show a friend the two or three photos they've brought in, and I ask them to share a little bit about the story behind the photograph. I then ask them to ask their friend, "Which one do you think I should write about first?"

A possible mentor text for this lesson:

Students tape the photo they've chosen onto a blank notebook page (I have double-sided tape available for them). Then, they spend 15 minutes free-writing about the image. I don't want them to necessarily simply tell me what's in their photo; I'd much rather have them show a memory or idea they associate with the image. To show them that kind of thinking, I share with them two photos and free writes from my own writer's notebook. They are below.

Click here or on the image to view this page in larger form.

Click here or on the image to view this page in larger form.

Sharing/Talking/Planning Future Writing:

The purpose of a writer's notebook is to provide a space for students to capture smaller ideas that may become bigger pieces of writing someday. In my classroom writer's workshop, I expect my students to always select ideas that began in their notebooks (as pre-writes) as inspiration for their rough drafts.

Once students have captured some initial thinking on a page in their writer's notebooks about any photos, they can be easily encouraged to turn that writing into a longer draft. Photos can inspire any type of writing: narrative/memoir, expository, persuasive, poetry. Whichever genre they are encouraged to go with, encourage them to include the most important thought they captured when writing about the photo for the first time in the notebook.

An Invitation to Share Students' Photo Memory Pages:

You will have students who create awesome notebook pages inspired by this activity--ones that should serve as models for future students who go through this writing activity. I hope you'll consider photographing and sharing any students' notebook page that really are inspirational. Tell your students you're going to choose the three best notebook pages and post them at WritingFix's Ning; this is a fabulous way to motivate your writers, and your students could very easily have their pages seen by the tens-of-thousands of teachers and writers who visit our site annually.

The link in below will take you to our posting page specifically set up for this lesson. And hey, I'd love to see teachers sharing their own models of this assignment too!

Click here to visit our ning's posting page,
where you can post photographs of student notebook pages.