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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.


Write & WritingFix

       Because writing--when taught right--can be the most enjoyable part of your teaching day, we created this website to provide fresh ideas and lessons for teachers.

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

For Christmas in 2010, my wife hinted to me that she'd like me to locate a board game she used to play and loved. It was called Hink Pink, and if you're lucky you can find an affordable used copy on Amazon or E-bay. Dena and I believe it makes a better car game than a board game, and the cards that come with the game will get you started. Having that board game inspired the lesson and learning task suggested on this page.

An Adaptable Lesson from the Harrisons' Classroom to Your Classroom:
How this free-to-use lesson came to be online: My wife, Dena, and I taught English, reading, and writing for 56 combined years before both retiring at the conclusion of the 2018-19 school year. We've had a lot of years to develop passion about certain teaching topics, and focusing on unique ways to teach writing has become a combined passion for both of us. After I earned my Master's Degree in Educational Technology way (way!) back in 1999, Dena and I decided to establish a website and begin freely posting our favorite lessons and resources that we adapted, created and successfully used during our time in the classroom.

We began this online task by--first--creating WritingFix in 1999, and there we began posting writing methodologies and techniques from our own classrooms. Two few years after WritingFix had been established, we teamed with the Northern Nevada Writing Project for several years, and through their popular inservice classes, we began adding the ideas of many Nevada teachers who enrolled in those classes for recertification credit. When the federal budget floundered in 2008, the NNWP was no longer able to sponsor WritingFix in any way shape or form, but Dena and I keep the site online through user donations and our own cash.

In 2008, we began creating this newer website with writing lessons that specifically focused on our favorite topics and techniques for writing instruction: 1) the six writing traits; 2) writing across the curriculum, 3) writing lessons that differentiate, 4) writer's notebooks, and 5) vocabulary instruction. This "Always Write" website has been growing--month by month--since the summer of 2008. Below, you will find a lesson we posted to inspire a unique type of writing.

Thanks for checking out this month's lesson--first posted in October of 2019--, and if you have any questions about it, don't hesitate to contact us using this email address: corbett@corbettharrison.com

creating word couplets and writing clues to build student-centeredness
"Rhyme-Time" Riddles

a great word game to teach your students as you continue to build a perfect classroom writing environment.

Quick Overview: In our effort to make our writing classroom more student-centered, we teach our students not only to create rhyming sets of words, but they also must create a challenging riddle that can be used during classroom interactions. Once students understand "Rhyme-Time" Riddles, they can be used independently in one's writer's notebook, or even as a writing across the curriculum task, as you will see in the third and final part of this lesson. Doing all three parts of the lesson are certainly not a requirement; we have included three different approaches and ideas to this "Rhyme-Time" Riddle concept so that you can introduce them, and then you can choose how to use them in upcoming lessons.

Essential Questions/Objectives/Mentor Text Suggestions:

  • How do you define rhyme in poetry?
  • How do you create a riddle for a friend about a pair of rhyming words that's not too easy and that's not too hard? What's a "just right" riddle that challenges a classmate without shutting someone's brain down?
  • How can I design an interactive notebook page that makes use of "Rhyme Time" riddles?

    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.*2.A -- Recognize and produce rhyming words.
    -- Consult reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation of a word or determine or clarify its precise meaning or its part of speech. (We use rhymezone.com)
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.*.5.B -- Use the relationship between particular words (e.g., cause/effect, part/whole, item/category) to better understand each of the words.

A story for teachers only. Now that I'm retired, I feel I can finally publish some of the really good stories that I've never shared on the Internet or at conferences where I've spoken. It feels like it's time to share more of the funny, truthful things that happen when you're working well with a classroom full of energetic minds. You always must expect the unexpected.

Here's my story. I did the notebook task (part 3) of this lesson with my sixth graders, and I required them to create Rhyme-Times using the current vocabulary words they were learning from math, history, science, music, or an elective. Two sixth grade students--let's call them Jane and Diane--were trying to impress me. In math, they'd been learning the concept of ratio, so they looked that word up using the rhymezone.com website. One of the rhyming options that came up was a four-syllable word, it started with an 'F," and it referred to a sexual act that my wonderfully innocent sixth graders had no knowledge of whatsoever. Because of the whole rhyming requirement this learning task demands, could they pronounce the word with 100% accuracy? You betcha! And they did when they asked me loudly what the word meant? Not one of my sixth graders did, but my two eighth grade students aides were rolling on the floor with laughter in the back of the classroom as I fumbled my way through that one.

This lesson's set-up: Now that we're both retired (and loving it!), Dena and I had time to collaborate on this lesson throughout September of 2019. She decided she would write-up how show introduces "Rhyme-Time" Riddles and has students start creating their own to build classroom community. I decided to write-up the part where I showed how teaching the students about "Rhyme-Time" Riddles can inspire some great writer's notebook entries that encourage sharing. I also have included a third part to this lesson, wherein I create a graffiti wall of vocabulary from a non-fiction text, and I use the wall of words to inspire "Rhyme-Time" Riddles in my students Interactive Non-fiction Notebooks (their INNs, which we used in our research time.)

  • Part 1: Introducing "Rhyme-Time" Riddles and teaching students to create them for each other.
  • Part 2 : Teaching students to use "Rhyme-Time" Riddles as a writing task for their writer's notebooks during Sacred Writing Time.
  • Part 3 : Using "Rhyme-Time" Riddles inspired by non-fiction text and content-based (tier 3) vocabulary words.

Part 1: Introducing "Rhyme-Time" riddles and teaching students to create them for each other.

My husband (Corbett) and I really enjoy word-based riddles and often challenge each other while on road trips. (Not too nerdy, is it?) One of our favorites over the years has been "Rhyme-Times". These are two word rhyming pair riddles (like "fat cat") that come with clues you must compose to help your opponent guess the right answer (like, "An obese feline"). These riddles can be simple or quite challenging, depending upon the vocabulary that is used in either the clue or answers. There are many ways to use "Rhyme Times" in the classroom since they can serve as everything from simply playing with words to writing riddles about any subject in any content area. I often used "Rhyme-Time" Riddles as an exit ticket to help solidify what was taught that day; collect the students "Rhyme-Time" Riddles so they can be used as review the next time your class meets.

The best way to introduce "Rhyme Time" Riddles is by reading the book Double Trouble in Walla-Walla by Andrew Clements to your class. In this book, the main character suddenly finds that she is speaking in two-word rhymes. Students will enjoy the clever word play this book shares and will be inspired to create rhymes of their own. I know mine were!

My classroom mentor texts that rhyming couplets and riddles about them:

Double Trouble in Walla-Walla
by Andrew Clements

Halloween Hoots and Howls
by Joan Horton
(has inspiring Halloween vocabulary words--
a Newt's hoots and an Owl's howls

The Hink Pink Book
by Marilyn Burns
(out of print -- find a used copy, if you can)

After reading the book, ask students to brainstorm five original two-word rhymes in their writer’s notebook; stress the idea of "classroom appropriate rhymes only" early on...trust me. These first attempts can be about any subject they wish. Invite them to share their rhyming pairs with a partner and then the whole group. While they are sharing their rhyming pairs, begin mentioning how many syllables are in each word. This will come in handy later in the lesson when the students start making clues for their riddles. They will need to identify the number of syllables they used in their riddles in order to help others find the answer.
  • A "Rhyme Time" means there are two one-syllable words that rhyme with each other. As in "Fat cat" or "Free Knee."
  • A "Rhyme-y Time-y" means there are two two-syllable words that rhyme with each other. As in, "Evil weevil" or "Spider Cider"
  • A "Rhyme-itty Time-itty" means there are two three-syllable words that rhyme with each other. As in, "Skeleton Gelatin" or "Higgledy Piggledy"
  • My students create variations like "Rhyme-y Times" (as in, "Oatmeal wheel") or "Rhyme-y Time-itties" (as in "Otter granddaughter"). This shows higher-level thinking. Let them.

I created a set of ten "Rhyme Time" Riddle cards for you to use in October. I've attached this document, which I made with Avery Template 8877, if you want to run off a permanent set of cards on the business card paper; they work on normal paper too, so if you run the document's two pages back to back on your copier, and cut the ten cards out, then the rhyming answers will be on one side and the clues for those rhymes will be on the opposite side of the cards. The right-hand column are a bit easier to figure out, so you might want to start with those. Read the hint aloud and then discuss the number of syllables in each word of the answer (based on the clue syllable clue in parenthesis on the cards). You can have the students guess the answers with a partner, or use all of them with the whole class.

Now students are ready to create their own riddles. Some helpful items for students to use are rhyming dictionaries or RhymeZone.com. It's also helpful to possibly have a THEME in mind before students create the riddles; for example, you could say, "I want all the rhymes to have something to do with erosion." The card set at left that I made has a Halloween theme. Themes can be either fun or content-based.

If you're unsure your students can create these rhymes and riddles alone, students can work with a partner to create their rhyme lists. Once students create any rhyming pair (as in, "Candle handle"), they can then draft a clue that will hint at the answer, but not give it away too easily (as in "Hold this to keep the melting wax from dripping on your fingers.")

There are three criteria that you can focus on as you teach your student writing skills during this exercise in thinking and writing. I've included the criteria below. You can use one, two, or all of them. Before having students work on their second or revised drafts, work together as a class to determine how the teacher will differentiate between three levels of work. This particular activity works well with having students help you draft the initial rubric, then revise that same rubric based on their experiences of playing the "Rhyme Time" Riddle game a few times. Corbett's tip: when I have students help me design the rubric, the first column we always draft is the "B' work column; that way, students can figure out something extra to add to the first column and something to make sure they don't do being described in their third column.

Designing a class rubric with your students works best when students practice drafting and revising together based on experience.

  'A' work 'B' work 'C' or lower
The rhymes are accurate and accurately labeled.

To what degree?

The clue is thoughtful and well written




The clue is not too easy but not too hard.





Finally, students are encouraged to share riddles with other singletons or writing partnerships once they're written. Students love to guess each other’s rhymes based on the clues, and this is a great way to inspire revision since they have real time feedback from their classmates. If a clue is deemed too difficult, the pairs can work together to revise the clue, or perhaps add a picture that might help. Once they have a tried and tested clue, they can either write a bonus riddle or offer their expertise to other groups that are struggling to create their own riddles.

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Part 2: Teaching students to use "Rhyme-Time" riddles as a writing task for their writer's notebooks during Sacred Writing Time.

We do our SWT daily, and I write during it too, so my students know it's important to me...and therefore their grades. When I teach a mini lesson, like the one described by my beautiful wife above, I end that lesson by saying, "I think it would be a valid task during sacred writing time for you to design a page of "Rhyme-Time" riddles that you can share. You can make random ones, but I think it's a better challenge to try to make them all about a theme.

Of course, to understand what I mean by this, many of my students need a visual example, which is why I keep my own notebook. My shared ideas inspire their own take on the ideas I share. For the example below, Dena and I decided to make a page for this lesson after we visited a favorite local attraction -- The Andelin Family Farms -- to pick out a unique pumpkin for our front porch this October of 2019

Start with a Word List
Word Lists Inspire "Rhyme-Time" Riddles
In the above example, I set-up the page, then I brainstormed words we had seen after our visit to the farm. I brainstormed for ten minutes; then, Dena did the same (Note two different styles of handwriting)
I then took our combined word list (with the theme "Harvest Words" and I began brainstorming for possible "Rhyme-Time" riddles. Here are the eight I decided on for my page, but I brainstormed about fifteen.
Here is a view of my final notebook pages with my sticky notes folded as they actually sit. You can read the riddles I came up with for each of my "Rhyme-Times."
A helpful hint about making sure the sticky notes stay taped down. I teach my students to--after the page is completely finalized and colored--to tape the sticky notes in two places: at the top of the note, and underneath the fold as I show in the two pictures above.

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Part 3: Using "Rhyme-Time" riddles inspired by non-fiction text and content-based (tier 3) vocabulary words.

For this learning task, you need to locate a common article/non-fiction that you want all your students to read for comprehension. For the example I provide below, I used Stephen Kramer's non-fiction picture book Caves, which is part of the Nature in Action series. Kramer is a science teacher and an author. His non-fiction books work great for a task like this.

Start with a Word List
A Graffiti Wall Dialogue (based on word list)
Student #1: I wrote down speleothems too? What's your favorite speleothem?

Student #2: The cave pearls looked cool in the picture, but they didn't show what moon milk looks like.

Student #1: It's probably just water that looks milky because it's on really white stone.

Student #2: You think it's limestone or another kind of stone?

Student #1: I don't know. I guess limestone makes sense. Do you remember the way to remember which hangs from the ceiling and which is on the floor? Cave formations, I mean.

Student #2: Stalactite has a 'c' in it, and I think that means it hangs on the ceiling.

Student #1: Right, and the 'g' in stalagmite is for...?

Student #2: Growth? Ground? Ground! Would you ever live in a cave?

Student #1: Like forever?

Student #2: Sure. Forever.

Student #1: But you couldn't live in total dark forever? Humans can't survive without sunlight. I think.

Student #2: I wonder how much sunlight we need. What's the longest anyone ever stayed inside a cave in total darkness and lived?


In the above example, I created this word list/graffiti wall after reading a non-fiction picture book about how caves are formed. The book is Caves by Stephen Kramer. Students, working with partners, would create sentences to start discussions that use the words correctly as they discuss the article. After discussing, we start making rhyme times.
This is the type of conversation you practice and encourage students to have after they create word/graffiti walls. Remember, the purpose of a graffiti wall is to launch a discussion between students or student groups wherein students are putting the research they've read and collected words from a text into their own words. Great expository writing practice!
Here are the "Rhyme Times" I made about words/concepts from caves after discussing my word/graffiti wall with another person or two. Notice many contain the vocabulary words in the rhymes.
Here are the "Rhyme Times" riddles I wrote about words/concepts from caves after creating my rhyming set of words. Notice many contain the vocabulary words in the clues.


Publish those "Rhyme Time" Riddles! If you have students who create "Rhyme-Time" inspired notebook pages or assignments, post them at Twitter, using Hashtag #RhymeTime. Celebrate your students' creativity by putting their ideas out there to inspire others.

This lesson has a Publishing Option!

If you have a student or two create very original "Rhyme-Time" Riddles, post them to Twitter with the hashtag: #RhymeTime

We introduce this lesson in October!
On October 26--a.k.a. "Mule Day,"

our SWT challenge uses a "Rhyme Time" task.

Open this Sacred Writing Time slide by clicking here or on the October 26th thumbnail above!

You can order all 366 Sacred Writing Time Slides by visiting our Teachers Pay Teachers store.

"Such a time saver! Thank you!"

--Teachers Pay Teachers feedback

Socratic Seminars!

I created these "formula poems" with two purposes: 1) to build small group cooperation; and 2) to add a strong new word to our socratic seminars. The day or week before our next seminar, students group together to write one of these poems as a team.

Please try before you buy...

When you visit our Teachers Pay Teachers store-page for this product, select PREVIEW to download full, complimentary access to two of the eighteen Socratic Seminar poetry formats we created for this for-sale product. All proceeds from sales like this keep our Always Write website online and free-to-use.

Even if you don't purchase the entire set of poems from us, please use the two poems we share freely as a group-writing task in class one day.

"You put so much time into everything you do. These are great resources, thank you!"

--Teachers Pay Teachers feedback

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.

Please try before you buy...

When you visit our Teachers Pay Teachers store-page for this product, select PREVIEW to download full, complimentary access to three of the twenty-five instead-of-book-reports writing response formats we created for this for-sale product. All proceeds from sales like this keep our Always Write website online and free-to-use.

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.

"This is one of the best school supplies I've ever purchased! Thank you."

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Do you appreciate our free lessons but don't want to purchase our for-sale products?

That's fair, but did you know there are two less direct ways you can financially support our site. We actually receive a small commission from Amazon for each person using the following referral links to try out one of their products. If you've been thinking about trying either of these out, kindly use these links so our site can pay the bills to stay online.

Try Amazon Prime for free, and we receive a small donation from Amazon that we use to stay online. Use this link please. Try Audible for free, and we receive a small donation from Amazon to stay online. Use this link please. You'll get two free books!

By the way, Dena and I are both Prime and Audible members, and we love everything about both services.

The Notebook Mentor Text that Most Inspired my Student Writers:
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 --

365 Ideas for Writing/Discussing:

-- Teachers Pay Teachers Link --

An inspired STRUCTURE mentor text
Impersonating A Test's "Voice"
in a Math-Crazy World? Fun!

My Own Darn Math Curse
inspired by Jon Scieszka's
Math Curse

Enrich your Students' Vocabulary!
Will your Students will Take a Shine to "Word Art"?

Word Art
inspired by Jim Tobin's
The Very Inapprpriate Word

Want a writing task you can always rely on?
I teach my students to turn new words into "people" through writing.

Personifying Vocabulary Words
inspired by David Melling's
The ScallyWags

A Poetic Task / A Metaphorical Task
I got my money's worth from this mentor text! Tons of writing ideas!

Four Metaphor Poems
inspired by Mem Fox's
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge

Using Grammar to Encourage Structure
Comparative Adjectives and Superlatives Aide Organization

Superlative Stories/Essays
inspired by Brian Cleary's
Breezier, Cheesier, Newest and Bluest


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