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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.

 

Always
Write & WritingFix

 
       Because writing--when taught well--can be the most enjoyable part of your teaching day, we created this website to provide fun, adaptable ideas for teachers.

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Teaching vocabulary while simultaneously teaching writing skills is effective and can transform your classroom into a more student-centered and well-spoken environment. Contact us through e-mail with questions/comments about this resource page; all views and ideas expressed--unless otherwise cited--are our own.

I created "Vocabulary Workshop" to improve my students' writing and speaking skills while making them take an interest in great words we can read, write, speak, and hear. For years, I watched my readers and writers--many of them really intelligent kids--skip over new-to-them vocabulary words, hoping to understand the sentence they were reading without needing to know the meaning of that new word. That laziness baffled me. When I hear a new word, I always will ask, "What's that word mean?" and I thank the person who attempts to explain it to me. Both I and the person explaining the word to me benefit from the exchange. Why couldn't that be replicated in my classroom. Thus, Vocabulary Workshop (Harrison style) was developed.

On this page, you will find the free-to-use resources we offer to any classroom teacher interested in trying Vocabulary Workshop. If you are a trainer, please request permission to use any of our vocabulary workshop materials. We offer a full-day training in Vocabulary Workshop that we can bring to your school.

Teaching vocabulary became one of my passions as a writing teacher. I hope you enjoy this page.

The resources found on this page are completely free to use; we do, however, sell quality materials that will further enhance this page's ideas at our Teachers Pay Teachers storefront. Our complete Vocabulary Workshop packet has become our third most popular product!

"I am on my third year of using this method with grades 5-8 and they love it! I have the data to prove that this rigorous method works. PURCHASE THE SET -- You won't be sorry!" (a review from a Teachers Pay Teachers purchaser.)

What's Vocabulary Workshop? In a nutshell, once or twice a month, my students take over the classroom and teach each other four new vocabulary words they've discovered and written about since the last Vocabulary Workshop. In order to teach their four words, they must be prepared with four:

  • four definitions paraphrased in students' own words and accompanied by an accurately identified part of speech
  • four short writing challenges (I have over a dozen to choose from), a different piece of writing for each of their four vocabulary words
  • four different conversation starters prepared for their partners that would have their partners attempt to have a meaningful discussion with them about one or all of their four vocabulary words.

On our assigned Vocabulary Workshop Day, students move from partner to partner, sharing their words and activities, and I monitor their strengths and weaknesses as they attempt to communicate their ideas about challenging words. Vocabulary Workshop quickly became my favorite day. I designed my class so that every other week, students would have collected four words from our classroom readings, their independent reading, and from their conversations with adults. My students collected age- and reading level-appropriate words they saw themselves using in future writing and discussions. In my district, we called the types of words they were collecting "Tier-2 Vocabulary Words," but I've worked with numerous science, history, math, and other non-Language Arts content teachers over the years, and we've figured out how to make an adapted Vocabulary Workshop work with "Tier-3 Vocabulary Words." If you're not sure of the difference between a Tier-2 and a Tier-3 word, I urge you to click on the first of three complimentary slideshows we provided in the column at right. And remember, a Tier-2 vocabulary word for a sixth grader is very different than a Tier-2 vocabulary word for a twelfth grader.

Teach Your Students Unique Ways to Write about Vocabulary Words: I read some cathartic research about ten years back that said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "If you expect a student to truly know a new vocabulary well enough to use it as a writer or a speaker, then the student needs to have 8-10 'meaningful experiences' with a vocabulary word." I thought a lot about what that--meaningful experience--meant while I was designing my first Vocabulary Workshop. Is having them memorize a word from Monday's list to take a matching quiz on those words on Friday a meaningful experience? Is listing a story or chapter's words on a word wall and discussing them before students read a meaningful experience with those vocabulary words? Is simply looking up a word on your mobile device a meaningful experience? I'm going to let you answer those questions based on your own experience.

In middle and high school, what I remember being asked to do when we had new vocabulary words was "Write each of your vocabulary words into a separate and accurate sentence as your homework." Was that meaningful? For me, it often wasn't because I understood the simple basics of grammar. I had simple frames I could use to write sentences with words that were unfamiliar to me. "I/He/She/It was very [adjective]" and "The [noun] was impressive" were meaningless sentences that I turned in and received credit for many times during my own high school years.

I began brainstorming ways to make an experience with a word "meaningful," and I decided the most meaningful thing a learner could do with a vocabulary word is 1) choose it him/herself based on the fact that he/she wanted to use it in their own writing or speaking, 2) write something creative or write about a logical connection to a new word, and 3) teach other students the meaning of your vocabulary word by sharing what you wrote about the word. Items #1 and #2 above became my students' homework for Vocabulary Workshop, and #3 became our day that we called "Vocabulary Workshop." In my classroom, every two weeks we scheduled a Vocabulary Workshop Day where students spent the whole period teaching their words to different partners and having them complete activities based on their words.

I needed to come up with a list of creative or logical ways for students to write about the words they would be bringing. I wanted to have some be VERY creative, some be VERY logical, and I wanted half of them to require a little bit of both creativity and logic. I began with SIX DIFFERENT WAYS that I strategically taught my students during the first eight weeks of school. By the time they had four different writing techniques learned, we could begin preparing for our first Vocabulary Workshop. The first six I always taught were:

  • Personify your Vocabulary Word (click to download) -- three to four sentences about and an image of the personified character. Example: What does Mr. Curmudgeon look like and do? This is one of the complimentary lessons we give away here at Always Write, and I encourage you to try it out with your students--maybe even a few times because it becomes a wonderful "go to" assignment if we have ten extra minutes at the end of a period. If you like this lesson, please know we sell all eleven lessons as a packet of materials at Teachers Pay Teachers, but everything found on this page is 100% free to adapt and use.
  • Mr. Stick Vocabulary Cartoons -- Mr. Stick is our classroom"margin mascot" in our writer's notebooks, but he also makes intelligent appearances during Vocabulary Workshop. Students must create a context for using the word. Then they must create a Mr. Stick cartoon that not only captures that context, but also uses the word in the cartoon's required caption or its required dialogue bubble.
  • Vocabulary Haikus -- A meaningful experience with a vocabulary word can involve requiring a creative use of said word within a mandated theme: nature. Haikus have easy-to-follow formats for your logical students, and exploring the natural world as one's context for com poising a seventeen-syllable poem that uses the word in it is a creative challenge.
  • Acrostic Synonym/Antonym Riddles -- Students use BOTH word and phrase synonyms and antonyms to create an acrostic "riddle." On Vocabulary Workshop day, students explain their word's meaning, then they quiz their partner on whether the words/phrases in the acrostic are synonyms or antonyms. Fun arguments can ensue.
  • Symbolic Representations -- Students create an original and quality idea for a metaphor for their vocabulary word's meaning. They provide a picture of their metaphor and a three- to four-sentence explanation of their thinking when they chose the metaphor they chose. When they present this one, they are required to ask their partner, "What metaphor would you have made for this word?" and usually a good discussion occurs.
  • E.G.O.T. & E.G.O.T. sentences -- Please don't write me and ask why I call them EGOT sentences; they are because my students named them. Basically, students explore their vocabulary words to see if any of them have a noun, verb, adjective, and adverb form. Not too many words do; a lot of words have three of the forms but not the fourth. Divergence, diverge, divergent, and divergently is an example of a vocabulary word that has all four forms. If students discover they have an EGOT word, they compose a ridiculous sentence that tries to 1) stay one sentence and 2) use all four forms of the same word in the same sentence. They can't be context-less sentences, like "I use my divergence to divergently diverge on days that are divergent." Instead, they have to have two or more context clues for the reader, like "I divergently used divergent thinking to solve the math problem in a different way, and my divergence annoyed my teacher who wants us to always ask permission to diverge away from the class's technique for solving the equation."

My ultimate goal with my student-centered Vocabulary Workshop was for students to begin proposing their own ways to write meaningfully about their self-selected vocabulary words. I remind them regularly of this expectation during the second half of the first semester, when I would teach them two more techniques, giving them eight to choose from. Here are the remaining two I teach before we head off to Winter Break:

  • Showing Sentences -- We teach students to "Show, don't tell," or to "Show and tell" when they write, but rarely do I hear the word verb mentioned in other teachers' lessons on this topic. I feel controlling one's verb is the key to showing details and imagery, so I teach these types of "action-packed" sentence as an option for Vocabulary Workshop. My kids learn more about verbs when writing these type of sentences than they do from most grammar worksheets on verbs that I've seen over the years.
  • Root Relations -- I want my students to take an interest in etymology as well as develop grammatical awareness with their writing for Vocabulary Workshop. This option, which actually starts out as a hallway decorating assignment on Latin and Greek Roots, appeals to my students who have already learned the value of taking note of the roots found in the words we know and the words we learn.

During the second semester of the year, my students are usually using my writing ideas half of the time, their own (teacher-approved!) ideas the other half of the time. As Einstein said, "Creativity is contagious." As soon as some students start inventing new ideas for writing about their new words, many others will follow. To help stretch everyone's brain, I teach the following two more challenging techniques as two more options for Vocabulary Workshop. Not all kids are ready for this type of challenge, but I'm always amazed at the work from those who are, and I can provide feedback to the students who are willing to push themselves to try. The last two "writing with vocabulary" techniques I directly teach are:

  • Sausage Sentences -- This is a creative challenge. It's not going to be used by every student during Vocab Workshop after you introduce it, but every student can try writing a few as you teach the concept. Students carefully compose a sentence that uses the vocabulary word while maintaining this rule as well: in a sausage sentence, the letter that ends each word must become the first letter of the next word in the sentence. Sounds confusing? Some students find it quite fun. Here's a favorite student sample for the word sidle, written by a seventh grader: "No one ever ran near Red Desert, then Nicholas sidled deep past the entrance." Sausage sentences must be a minimum of eight words, and the student must provide an illustration because often the sentences need a visual explanation.
  • Imp-Int-Exclam Sentences (click to download) -- This is a logical and grammatical writing challenge. It's not going to be used by every student during Vocabulary Workshop after you introduce it, but every student can try writing a few as you teach the concept. Students create three sets of two sentences; each set must contain the vocabulary word and each set must contain a unique context in which to use the word. The three sets of sentences follow this formula: 1) Imperative Command + Declarative Sentence; 2) Interrogative Question + Declarative Sentence; 3) Exclamatory Statement + Declarative Sentence. This is one of the complimentary PowerPoints we share, so please feel free to use it with your students to see if they like the three formulas. I find this technique taught my students the four sentence types and made them more conscious of their end punctuation, much more so than any grammar worksheet ever did.

Our Vocabulary Workshop really inspired my students to be more visual, even those who didn't consider themselves visual learners, by encouraging and giving feedback based on models. If any of the above explanations didn't make sense to you, re-read the explanation, look over the visuals I provide below, and re-read the explanation once more. I'll bet it'll make sense to you then.

To Assist and Scaffold our Visual Learners:
Teacher and Student Models to Discuss with Vocabulary Workshop
Please feel free to share these examples with your own students if you are designing your own Vocabulary Workshop.

Personified Vocabulary Words
Mr. Stick Vocabulary Cartoons
Teacher model / checklist:

DEFENSTRATE (verb)
  • Click here to Retweet the image/checklist.
  • Click here to view/pin this image at Pinterest.
Student-made models:
Personified Words:
Teacher model / checklist:

SUPERCILIOUS (adjective)
  • Click here to Retweet the image/checklist.
  • Click here to view/pin this image at Pinterest.
Vocabulary Nature Haikus
Acrostic Synonym/Antonym Riddles
Teacher model / checklist:

SCRUTINIZE (verb)
  • Click here to Retweet the image/checklist.
  • Click here to view/pin this image at Pinterest.
Student-made models:
Vocab Haikus:
Teacher model / checklist:

SALUBRIOUS (adjective)
  • Click here to Retweet the image/checklist.
  • Click here to view/pin this image at Pinterest.
Student-made models:
Acrostic Riddles:
More coming soon!

Symbolic Representations
E.G.O.T.s and E.G.O.T. Sentences
Teacher model / checklist:

MARGINAL (adjective)
  • Click here to Retweet the image/checklist.
  • Click here to view/pin this image at Pinterest.
Student-made models:
Vocab Symbolism:
Teacher model / checklist:

INTERROGATIVE (adjective)
  • Click here to Retweet the image/checklist.
  • Click here to view/pin this image at Pinterest.
Student-made models:
Vocab EGOTS:
More coming soon
from a
scanner near me!
Showing Sentences
Root Relations
Teacher model / checklist:

TUMULT (noun)
  • Click here to Retweet the image/checklist.
  • Click here to view/pin this image at Pinterest.
Student-made models:
"Showing" Vocab:

Teacher model / checklist:

INNOVATIVE (adjective)

  • Click here to Retweet the image/checklist.
  • Click here to view/pin this image at Pinterest.
Student-made models:
Root Relations:
More coming soon
from a
scanner
near me!
Sausage Sentences
Imp-Int-Exclam Sentences
Teacher model / checklist:
  • Click here to Retweet the image/checklist.
  • Click here to view/pin this image at Pinterest.
Student-made models:
Sausage Sentences:
Teacher model / checklist:
  • Click here to Retweet the image/checklist.
  • Click here to view/pin this image at Pinterest.
Student-made models:
IMP-INT-EXCLAMs:
More coming soon
from a
scanner
near me!


Our Vocabulary Workshop materials can also be purchased at Teachers Pay Teachers.

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21st Century Options and Resources:
Online Resources for Vocabulary Workshop!
I have just as many students who prefer to complete their Vocabulary Workshop assignment by hand and on their own piece paper. For those who want a little more structure or who like the neatness of the four boxes for four words on one page, I provide these handouts.

Forms for Typing Your Tasks, then Printing
Forms for Printing, then Hand Writing Tasks
Portrait:

With this Word form, you type your writing tasks on the form and print. Clip art can be added!

Landscape:

With this Word form, you type your writing tasks on the form and print. Clip art can be added!

Portrait:

With this PDF form, you print it, then hand-write your writing tasks into the boxes provided.

Landscape:

With this PDF form, you print it, then hand-write your writing tasks into the boxes provided.

Resources to Help you Collect Words
Offsite Websites Used in Vocab Workshop:
Me? Whatever I am currently reading that's in printed form--books, magazines, etc.--I use a sticky note. Before I start reading, I line the inner cover of my book with 4-6 sticky notes, knowing I'll be actively looking for vocabulary words while I am reading. I require my students to look up their words in two dictionaries, then paraphrase the definition(s) in their own words. No definition copying!

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Tier-2 Vocabulary Words for Smarter-Sounding Group Discussions
Group Vocabulary Quick Poems
As you are setting up for a literature circle or a Socratic Seminar, or if you have fifteen minutes free the day before you have a big class discussion, try these "Group Vocabulary Quick Poems." The first three are free to use; we sell the entire packet of eighteen different group writing tasks to pay the bills for this website, keeping it free. They'll build student confidence in words as they compose (and sometimes) perform these poems together.

I give bonus prizes (usually stickers or pencils) to my students who--during a planned classroom discussion--can make a valid use of any of the words we learn when we compose these group poems.

How I created these poems: Research on acquiring new vocabulary shows that both teachers and students should be involved in the selection of words for study, and my weekly vocabulary routine definitely puts a big responsibility on my students to bring words they've encountered and written about every Friday. I play my part, of course, by providing plenty of academic vocabulary (a.k.a. "tier-3 words), especially as it relates to the discussion of literature (protagonist, theme, allegory, etc.) and writing (voice, transitions, thesis statement, etc.). I also serve as a model of someone with a pretty good vocabulary that isn't Language Arts-specific (a.k.a. "tier 2" words), and during class activities, I purposely use big, tier-2 words in my directions, fully expecting someone to ask, "What's that word mean, Mr. Harrison?"

I've successfully designed and implemented eighteen new small-group writing tasks. I call them "quick poems," and not only are they a high-quality 10- to 30-minute group writing task, they also build familiarity and usage skills with almost thirty tier-2 vocabulary words that--personally--I love using and--even more so--I love hearing my students use correctly during literature discussions, during writer's workshop response groups, and during Socratic Seminars. Each of the 18 different poetry formats are based on tier-2 word that I want to hear my students use in class as we talk to each other. I created 18 poetry formats because, starting last year, I set aside a small amount of time every two weeks to learn new vocabulary word in this manner. I call them "Quick-Poems" because I set the timer, and I don't want them to become a whole period of work. I want the introduction to the words and poetry format to be learned in less than ten minutes so that students can then have fifteen to twenty minutes to compose as a group. The objective of each poem is not only to teach them a great word, but also have them practice using it by exploring different contexts in which the word would make sense using the support of their small group's combined ideas. As the poem is written, the group cooperates and uses writing skills we have been working on in class, and each poetry format comes with plenty of obvious opportunities to review grammar and punctuation. In addition, these "quick poems" all:

  • Come with a teacher model. My teaching model for each writing task/group poem was written in such a way that you could call what I've written your own teacher model if you wish to.
  • Can be assigned to single students, partners, or even groups of three or four, depending on the scaffolded support you feel some of your less-productive writers might need to be successful. I prefer the safety of a small group, but I allow those kids of mine who prefer to write alone to separate themselves from the group I have put them in and compose something individually while the rest of the small group stays intact.
  • Contain directions and expectations that accommodate for differentiation; the poems' advance organizers have room for more stanzas or quatrains than students will probably need, and the directions state for students to complete as many stanzas as they can in the allotted time. Even if they struggle and write just one stanza, they've made progress at the level they can, and you now have good, formative information about your students. Some of the poetic challenges, my wife tells me, are pretty difficult too, and to that I say, "Good." With fifteen minutes, no matter how challenging, I find all students can finish something useful that can be shared, even if it isn't complete; at the same time, I find with fifteen minutes and with a good challenge and a good teacher model, I have students who work together to knock my socks off with their "quick poems."
  • Create an opportunity to share--or publish--students' ideas. Even when they write in groups, I require every student in the group to write their group's poem down on their own advance organizer so they retain a personal copy for their binders. Some days, we find time to share as a whole group, but some days I simply send them back to sit with their Sacred Writing Time partners and share with that person. "Owning" new words requires students to have 8-9 meaningful experiences with the word before they can call the word one of their "pocket words" that they can carry around with them; hearing how another group used a new word in a different poem is just one more meaningful experience with a vocabulary word. The more we share, the more we own the language that surrounds us. The set of "Quick-Poems" also come with links where, if you have a student/group do something very unique with the word in a poem, you can share it online where other teachers will be able to share it with their own students using the same poetry format. Publishing is a powerful incentive to student writers; celebrate their "quick poem" ideas with the other thousands of teachers who also follow and use the materials.
“My kids are loving the new vocabulary & poetry poems. Today we were working on the ‘caustic/facetious’ poem. An uproarious time was had as students challenged each other: ‘That’s a verb phrase, not a noun phrase!’ ‘That phrase doesn’t show meaning!’ ‘You have to write what it’s about, not an actual caustic comment!’ etc, etc. Thanks again, Corbett! You’ve made my job a dream!”

--an email received from a fellow writing teacher


Our Eighteen "Quick-Poems" for Tier-2 Vocabulary Words
The first three QUICK-POEMS are free previews. The remaining fifteen can be purchased by clicking here.
a free sample from the packet
Quick-Poem for the Vocabulary Word:
JUXTAPOSE

Quick Poem Planning Template


Teacher-made models to show
(Find it on page #2 of the PDF.)

a free sample from the packet
Quick-Poem for the Vocabulary Words:
LOQUACIOUS, TERSE/TACITURN

Quick Poem Planning Template


Teacher-made models to show
(Find it on page #2 of the PDF.)

a free sample from the packet
Quick-Poem for the Vocabulary Word:
HARBINGER & FORESHADOW

Quick Poem Planning Template


Teacher-made models to show
(Find it on page #2 of the PDF.)

Quick-Poem for the Vocabulary Word:
MISCONSTRUE & MISNOMER
Quick-Poem for the Vocabulary Word:
OBSEQUIOUS
Quick-Poem for the Vocabulary Words:
MYOPIC & SAGACIOUS
Quick-Poem for the Vocabulary Word:
PARAPHRASE
Quick-Poem for the Vocabulary Words:
SUBJECTIVE & OBJECTIVE
Quick-Poem for the Vocabulary Word:
LIONIZE
Quick-Poem for the Vocabulary Word:
DICHOTOMY & DICHOTOMOUS
Quick-Poem for the Vocabulary Words:
SPECUALTE
Quick-Poem for the Vocabulary Word:
PERUSE and SCRUTINIZE
Quick-Poem for the Vocabulary Words:
CLOYING & CURMUDGEONLY
Quick-Poem for the Vocabulary Word:
PERFUNCTORY
Quick-Poem for the Vocabulary Word:
VICISSITUDE
Quick-Poem for the Vocabulary Words:
OSTENTATIOUS & DIDACTIC
Quick-Poem for the Vocabulary Word:
AFFINITY
Quick-Poem for the Vocabulary Words:
CAUSTIC & FACETIOUS
Purchase the entire set of Eighteen Quick Vocabulary Poems by clicking here.

"Perfect resource. I used these for an enrichment activity. Next school year, I plan to use them for a collaborative writing assignment."
mmmm(--Teachers Pay Teachers customer)


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Some of our monthly lessons focus on reviewing/learning writing skills while trying new vocabulary words
Writing Lessons inspired by Vocabulary: from our classrooms to yours

Since 2008, I have been proudly featuring a "Lesson/Resource of the Month" here at my website. If you check in at our Lesson Archive, you'll see the lessons from 2012-present day. At the archive, I arrange the lessons by the month/year I posted them, and that creates a bit of a hodgepodge as we have over 80 lessons.

If you're specifically looking for a vocabulary-based writing lesson, allow me offer you the following. These are the Vocabulary-specific only lessons that I've been posting since 2012.

And remember...adapt these like crazy to make any ideas you like work for your classroom. Please. Adapt. We genuinely become better writing teachers when we adapt another's ideas we like into our own ideas, our own variations on the idea or theme. I would have never become a solid writing teacher if I'd only followed others' lessons exactly as they were given to me, or if I'd been at a school that prescribed a writing program to us. Real writing teachers have toolboxes with tools they've practiced with and honed for use; real writing teachers do not follow scripts.

This website's lessons are NOT scripts. They are invitations to adapt a good enough so that you can share it and inspire another to adapt your idea.

Lessons I Created as I Launched and Continually Adapted for Classroom Vocabulary Workshop

In my classroom, a Vocabulary Workshop required students to select four words from the past two weeks of vocabulary exposure from our readings and classroom discussions; students were told to select the words they didn't know before (or use much) and they had to create a small piece of writing that revolved around the word they'd chosen. My students had to write about four words every two weeks ready to share and present to each other; they cannot use the same writing task for their vocabulary workshop entry, so they need to learn--at least--four of my "Write About Vocabulary" tasks before you can hold an official workshop in my class. For that reason, I start teaching them early.

Just below, are three write-ups that were intended to help you set-up for and prepare necessary requirements if you're interested in creating a Workshop environment that centers around vocabulary words.

And below the first three lessons, please find a large collection of what I call "Writing about Vocabulary" tasks.

Write-ups that are Overviews of Different Ways to Launch/Design a Vocabulary Workshop
Need a Vocab. Workshop cover page?

A Lesson on Collecting Words:
A Classroom of Logophiles

inspired by Roni Schotter's
The Boy Who Loved Words

Step-by-step ideas to set-up workshop:

Lessons that Begin Vocabulary Workshop:
Launch a Vocab. Workshop

inspired by Peter H. Reynolds'
The Word Collector

My unique 2020 Vocab. Notebook:

A Different Style of Notebook:
A Vocab. & Writer's Notebook

inspired by Jane O'Conner's
Fancy Nancy

 


Lessons for Specific Tasks that Require Students to Write about Vocabulary
The following were all featured as Lessons of the Month here at Always Write, and they all focus on a different way a student can interact (through writing) with a new-to-them vocabulary word. Follow us on Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter to know when we've posted the latest lessons, or bookmark our Lesson of the Month Archive on your own computer at home or work.

Vocabulary/Writing Lessons and Ideas -- from our Classrooms to Yours
Personify a Vocabulary Word?

a Technique for Writing about Vocabulary:
3-Steps: Personifying Words

inspired by David Melling's
The Scallywags

Vocabulary Acrostic Riddles

a Technique for Writing about Vocabulary:
Acrostic Vocabulary Riddles

inspired by Bob Raczka's
Lemonade

Group writing: Poems on Vocab Words

a Technique for Writing about Vocabulary:
Quick Group Vocab Poems

inspired by Overturf, Montgomery, & Smith's Word Nerds

Go Further with Word Personification

a Technique for Writing about Vocabulary:
Vocabulary Frenemies

inspired by J. Ruth Gendler's
The Book of Qualities

Vocabulary Nature Haikus

a Technique for Writing about Vocabulary:
Haiku Vocabulary Poems

inspired by Jack Prelutsky's
If Not for the Cat

21st Century Writing Tasks

a Technique for Writing about Vocabulary:
Fake Vocab Phone Apps

inspired by my students'
amazing imaginations

For your Creatively Artistic Types

a Technique for Writing about Vocabulary:
Word Art

inspired by Jim Tobin's
The Very Inappropriate Word

Greek and Latin Root Charts

a Technique for Writing about Vocabulary:
Root Attack! Vocab Charts!

inspired by Alana Morris'
Vocabulary Unplugged

Labeling the Parts of the Whole

a Technique for Writing about Vocabulary:
Vocab/Character Anatomies

inspired partly by Dr. Seuss'
The Sneetches and Other Stories

 


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In 2020, I created an amalgam of a writer's notebook and a "Vocabulary Word of the Day" Calendar
New Writing-about-Vocabulary Tasks Emerging in my Notebook

During my last ten years of teaching, I maintained a daily writer's notebook whenever I required my students to do the same. As a result, I have ten years of amazing classroom memories stored in those notebooks, and now that I'm retired from the classroom, as I plan to write about my career and...just write...I can refer back to those notebooks for ideas. I have some pretty good ideas stored in my notebooks that I would have lost if I never wrote them down. Amazing how writer's notebooks work that way. It's not just talk; using writer's notebooks to build better thinkers works.

Anyway, fast forward to 2020, my first year of retirement. In January of 2020, I began maintaining a new type of daily writer's notebook: one that focused on a self-chosen vocabulary word a day.

If you would like access to our 2020 write-up, which explains how the idea of Vocabulary Writer's Notebooks came to be, click on the lesson link below. I'm always looking for new techniques to try with my own daily notebooking and thinking skills, and I believe there is a lot of potential and adaptability for teachers interested in trying similar notebooks in their own classroom.

Our Lesson/Write-up:
A Vocabulary Writer's Notebook

My goal with this new notebook is to improve both my vocabulary and my writing skills by visiting my notebook daily and challenging myself. I happily share some of my favorite pages below. Many of them feature new writing-about-vocabulary words tasks I have created over the twelve years I've been developing Vocabulary Workshop in my classroom.

This is definitely a section of this page currently under construction. By the end of 2020, I expect to have plenty of highlights to share. For now...

Objectives of a Vocabulary Writer's Notebook: I wanted to freely write every day for ten to fifteen minutes, as I required my students to do in their own writer's notebooks. I know first-hand (for 25+ years!) how a non-threatening writing warm-up can do wonders right before you're about to ask someone to do some scholarly writing. Athletes and musicians warm up; shouldn't writers? Rhetorical question.

I also wanted to improve my vocabulary skills while I was having fun with the writing I was doing daily in my new notebook. I know you can't memorize a new word very well in one short sitting, so I decided I needed to spread my visits to any new vocabulary words I was putting on pages in my Vocabulary Writer's Notebook.

I set the following rules, which if you have an account with Pinterest, you can save/pin to your own classroom board by clicking here.

  1. As I read and listen to the world, discover new words. Ask what these words mean or look them up. Record them on a sticky note as I come across them so I don't forget them.
  2. If I discover a word I especially like and could see myself using in my own future, I write the word at the top of a blank page in my Vocabulary Writer's Notebook. I immediately paraphrase its definition and identify its part of speech when I record the word. I take care to spell everything correctly as I commit to a word on a page in my notebook.
  3. On day #1 with a new word in my notebook, I play with it creatively in a short creative or logical piece of writing. Personify the word. Create an action- and description-packed "showing sentence." Design a color-coded "root chart" that shows how its related through Greek or Latin to three other words in English. Create an acrostic riddle using the word. Create a cartoon with a dialogue bubble and caption that use the vocabulary word. Invent a fake product that would be named after the vocabulary word. Also add a sentence underneath the short piece of writing; with each sentence you eventually add, use the word in a totally different context/situation.
  4. On day #2, create another piece of creative or logical writing and a sentence about a new word. Go back to previous words and create brand new sentences to add to those pages. Remember, all new sentences should use the word in a new context/situation.
  5. On day #3, commit to a new word, and add a new sentence to any previous pages that you can add a new sentence to. I ask students to write quality, description-filled sentences with student-generated context clues for the other students they may share the sentences with.
  6. Repeat the process every day. When you reach the bottom of a page in your notebook (meaning you've filled it with different sentences), you are officially "done" with that page and are encouraged to use the word in conversation whenever you can. I try to limit myself to no more than 15 minutes a day in my notebook before I get to work on my serious writing.
Below are three FREE lessons:
Complimentary PPT Slideshow #1:
How to Collect Words for
Vocabulary Workshop

The above Complimentary Slideshow was designed to show my students how to go about collecting new-to-them vocabulary words for Vocabulary Workshop.

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PPT Slideshow #2:
How to Personify a
Vocabulary Word

The above second Complimentary Slideshow was designed to review personification and show my student writers how to use the poetic tool to write creatively about a new-to-you vocabulary word.

________________
PPT Slideshow #3:
How to Write Imp-Int-Exclam Sentences for Vocabulary Workshop

The above third Complimentary Slideshow was designed to teach students some grammatical knowledge as they use a simple formula to write three sets of vocabulary-inspired sentences.

My Favorite Mentor Texts that Encourage Vocabulary Collecting:

The Boy Who Loved Words
by Roni Schotter


Fancy Nancy
by Jane O'Connor


The Word Collector
by Peter R. Reynolds


Max's Words
by Kate Banks


Thesaurus Rex
by Laya Steinberg


Boris Ate a Thesaurus
by Neil Steven Klayman


Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster
by Debra Frasier


The Word Collector
by Sonja Wimmer


Noah Webster & His Words
by Jeri Chase Ferris


The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus
by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet


Fibblestax
by Devin Scillian

Our Favorite Books with Vocabulary Teaching Ideas


Vocabulary Unplugged
by Alana Morris


Word Nerds
by Overturf, Montgomery and Smith


Abra Vocabra by Amy Rider &
More Abra Vocabra
by M. S. Samston

Tired of boring book reports?
We were too!

Dena created these twenty-five reflective tasks for her students who were responding to chapters in novels. Each week, her students completed one new activity, and after four or five weeks into a novel unit , the students each had a small portfolio of writing about their book.

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Even if you don't purchase the entire set of twenty-five ideas from us, please use the three writing formats we share freely instead of summarizing a chapter one day in class.

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Here's another of our free-to-use writing lessons:
A witty mentor text that sets up a delightful writing assignment:

"Normal or Nuts?"
inspired by Reader's Digest's annual column
Are You Normal or Nuts?

Color inspires student poetry:
One of the best mentor texts for teaching poems about colors

Color/Crayon Poems
inspired by Mary O'Neill's
Hailstones and Halibut Bones

This resource page features one of the freely posted ideas we share with our fellow writing teachers. We hope this page's idea inspires the establishment of a writer's notebook routine in your classroom.

If you're a teacher who is just getting started with classroom writer's notebooks, welcome aboard. We fund this website--Always Write--by selling just a few of our products from our Teachers Pay Teachers store. Before buying, kindly take advantage of the free preview materials we share so you know if the resources will work with your grade level and teaching style before you purchase the entire product.

Our FIRST Product!
Beginner Prompts, Thoughtfully Presented:


-- Teachers Pay Teachers Link --
-- Free Preview of August & September --


-- short video about SWT & Bingo Cards --

Our MOST POPULAR Product!
365 Ideas for Writing/Discussing:

-- Teachers Pay Teachers Link --

 

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