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

During my sixth year of teaching, I finally began keeping a learning notebook alongside my students, since I was requiring my students to do the same. I began starting a new notebook annually in January or February so that I would have half a notebook completed to show next year's students when August or September came around again. During my last five years of teaching, I focused a lot on techniques to teach "notebooking" as a lifelong learner's skill, and this page features ideas for the new notebook I've started for the year 2020: The Vocabulary Writer's Notebook.

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 & writing, speech & debate, journalism & media studies--for 56 combined years before both officially 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 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 inst ruction. 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, and if you have any questions about it, don't hesitate to contact us using this email address: corbett@corbettharrison.com

a new type of lifelong learning notebook I'm trying out
Vocabulary Writer's Notebook

Each day, I add a new word, trying to write something clever to help me remember a word's meaning. Then I revisit the page 6-7 times to try the word out in a variety of sentences.

"Then I got this idea that is stupendous. That's a fancy word for great."

from Fancy Nancy by the stupendous Jane O'Connor

Since retiring, I've been looking for my own Fancy Nancy-like stupendous idea, and I think I found one with this Vocabulary Writer's Notebook idea. I'm happy to share this fancy new idea with you on this page. I will be keeping this new style off notebook from January 1 to December 31, 2020.

Notebook Overview: Learners dedicate a blank notebook or part of a pre-existing notebook to vocabulary words. The rules of my Vocabulary Notebook are as follow:

  1. Always be on the look out or keep your ears peeled for either a) completely new words; or b) good vocabulary words you know/knew but don't really use in your writing or speaking. If you find/hear a word, write it on a sticky note or a bookmark or an index card you keep handy.
  2. Select the words you put in your notebook carefully; you'll hear and see an excess of words, so choose ones you can see yourself using based on what you know about your life. Neatly print your word on a page in your notebook (I am doing a word every day) and define it in your own words. So far, at any given time, I'm about eight to ten words ahead of myself in my notebook because I always am listening for new words. They've been recorded and assigned a day in the future when I will begin writing about them.
  3. After recording a word and its definition in my notebook, I come up with a short way to write about the word. Sometimes I make a cartoon with a caption and a dialogue bubble that use the word. Sometimes I put the word in a haiku or a series of haikus. Sometimes I analyze the word for its roots. Sometimes I create a "fake etymology" for the word that will help me remember its meaning or how to pronounce it. On our Vocabulary Workshop resource page, you'll find dozens of creative ways to write briefly about a vocabulary word.
  4. Over the next six or seven days, I return to the page with the vocabulary word on it, and I add an interesting sentence that puts the word (or one if its forms) in a context wherein using the word would make sense.
  5. I am currently working about 12 minutes a day in my Vocabulary Notebook; during that time, I attempt to be clever write a short piece of writing about the new day's word, and I add a sentence to any previous days' words, if there is still white space at the bottom of that vocabulary word's designated page.
  6. As a classroom tool, the Vocabulary Writer's Notebook is designed to be used as a means to improve a student's writing but also increase the student-centeredness of my classroom as my students would be required to share from their notebooks twice monthly at least.

Essential Questions/Objectives/Mentor Text Suggestions:

  • How else can unique numbers inspire a writer structure and create something unique--like a poem?
  • What depth of knowledge about Pi can you display in a short, structured poem?
  • What voice/joy for writing can you display in a poem about pie, using the same structure as the Pi Poem?

    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.*.4 -- Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade level-appropriate reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies, including:
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.*.4.A -- Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence or paragraph; a word's position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.*.4.B -- Use common, grade-appropriate Greek or Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word (e.g., audience, auditory, audible).
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.*.4.C -- 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.
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.*.4.D -- Verify the preliminary determination of the meaning of a word or phrase (e.g., by checking the inferred meaning in context or in a dictionary).

On this page, I will share the process I am using as I build my Vocabulary Writer's Notebook. I will also be including links for you teachers to share any inspiring pages you or your students may create, if you decide to start creating your own vocabulary notebook.

If you have any ideas/suggestions about this notebook style I am trying to create, I welcome your input: corbett@corbettharrison.com

My classroom mentor texts that encourage me and my students to use better words:

Fancy Nancy
by Jane O'Connor


Thesaurus Rex by Jennifer Donnelly


1000 Words to Expand your Vocabulary

by Joseph Piercy


Seven Days' Worth of Words/Pages from my Vocabulary Writer's Notebook

Before my writing process even began, I had recorded vocabulary words I planned to feature in my Vocabulary Writer's Notebook. I find these words in what I'm reading, or I hear them in what I'm watching or listening to. I purposely seek words that I either a) don't know at all; or b) think I know but never use because I'm not 100% sure of meaning, spelling, or pronunciation. These are the kinds of words I seek for my notebook; I don't go to a "Word of the Day" calendar, and I don't search context-less SAT vocabulary lists I can find online; instead, I listen or look for the words that are in the media I take interest in.

I start a new writer's notebook every January. As a personal New Year's resolution, I try to make each new notebook different with each passing year. For 2020, my new notebook is VOCABULARY inspired, and I spend 15-20 minutes every morning working on it. It warms my brain's creativity.

I also do a 25-30 minute physical workout every morning to start my day. My brain and body both appreciate the warm-ups.

At left, you can see me hard at work in the morning as I visit 6-7 different pages I am currently working on in my notebook, adding a sentence or several to each page. Again, I try to spend 15-20 minutes daily.

At right and below, you will find the "blank" versions of the pages in my 2020 notebook that--by the time you reach this page's bottom--will be filled with words written over 6-7 days.

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Day 1 in my Vocabulary Writer's Notebook:

On January 26th, I spent 15 minutes creating a short piece of writing about the word lugubrious; I also added new vocabulary sentences to my January 20-25th entries in my notebook, finishing my January 20th page.

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My word of the day for my notebook: lugubrious

I have taught myself the habit of writing interesting words down on sticky notes that I keep in the books or magazines I'm reading or near the television. Using those words, I am usually about a week or ten days ahead with collecting words to put in my notebook. So on January 26th, I would flip my notebook open to this page and the word and its definition would be waiting for me.

My job on day #1 with this word is twofold:

  1. I have to create a short piece of clever or logical writing that will help me remember the word's meaning(s). I chose to personify this particular word. Here is a link to our personified vocabulary word checklist at Twitter, and here it is at Pinterest. Feel free to share these teaching tools with your peers. We feature a thorough, free-to-use lesson on personifying vocabulary here: 3-Steps to Personifying Vocab
  2. I also have to put the word into a sentence that is descriptive and to contains a context clue or two; context clues are 'hints' you put in the sentence so that if someone reads the sentence without knowing the word's meaning, the context clues would help them make a better guess.

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Day 2 in my Vocabulary Writer's Notebook:

On January 27th, I spent 15 minutes creating a short piece of writing about the word bowdlerize; I also added new vocabulary sentences to my January 21-26th entries in my notebook, finishing my January 21st page.

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My word of the day for my notebook: bowdlerize

For this word, I first created an acrostic synonym/antonym riddle. This required me to use the thesaurus to create phrases that mean the same or opposite of the vocabulary word that inspired the acrostic. I told my students they could only use one-word lines in their acrostics about 20% of the time; otherwise, they were just copying words off the online thesaurus without trying to look deeper into those synonyms and antonyms' specific meanings.

I really love this writing activity because--when I require students to share their vocabulary notebooks with each other--this writing assignment totally forces the students to interact with each other as one student tries to solve the other's riddle.

Here is a link to our acrostic vocabulary riddle checklist at Twitter, and here it is at Pinterest. Feel free to share these teaching tools with your peers.

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Day 3 in my Vocabulary Writer's Notebook:

On January 28th, I spent 15 minutes creating a short piece of writing about the word lugubrious; I also added new vocabulary sentences to my January 22-27th entries in my notebook, finishing my January 22nd page.

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My word of the day for my notebook: moiety

For this word, I created a Mr. Stick Vocabulary Cartoon. A vocabulary cartoon requires three things:

  • an appearance by Mr. Stick in a context that goes along with the vocabulary word's meaning.
  • a caption that uses the vocabulary word correctly and interestingly or...
  • a dialogue bubble that uses the vocabulary word correctly and interestingly.

The vocabulary word only needs to appear in the caption OR the dialogue bubble--not both.

I often give extra recognition to students who try to use more than one of their vocabulary words in a Mr. Stick Vocabulary Cartoon, as I have done here.

Here is a link to our Mr. Stick Vocabulary Cartoon checklist at Twitter, and here it is at Pinterest. Feel free to share these teaching tools with your peers.

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Day 4 in my Vocabulary Writer's Notebook:

On January 29th, I spent 15 minutes creating a short piece of writing about the word pithy; I also added new vocabulary sentences to my January 23-28th entries in my notebook, finishing my January 23rd page.

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My word of the day for my notebook: pithy

For this word, I decided to make three haikus, finding three different places in nature where the word pithy would have an appropriate place. I teach my students, at first, to write a single Vocabulary Haiku, and once they've mastered those, we move to "Bi-Ku's" and "Tri-Ku's." I made a Tri-Ku here.

The thing about the haiku is it is SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT NATURE, often showcasing a connection that humankind should maintain with the natural word. I find it personally challenging to create "natural world contexts" for many vocabulary words, so it's good for expanding the thinking. If the students' vocabulary word is scold, glower, or decipher, they have to think of how to use their word to describe something from nature. It should be a challenge; if your students think these are easy, they're not doing them correctly.

Here is a link to our vocabulary haiku checklist at Twitter, and here it is at Pinterest. Feel free to share these teaching tools with your peers.

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Day 5 in my Vocabulary Writer's Notebook:

On January 30th, I spent 15 minutes creating a short piece of writing about the word mercurial; I also added new vocabulary sentences to my January 24-29th entries in my notebook, finishing my January 24th page.

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My word of the day for my notebook: mercurial

I chose this word because I used to teach it to my students because it's important to Romeo & Juliet, but I learned to liked its synonym-- capricious--better. I wanted to know exatly when to use one or the other. Capricious will be my word for January 31.

I created a set of Imp-Int-Exclam sentences for this word. I like this writing task that I designed for my more logical thinkers and my writers who like asssigned formats. It requires the writer to think of three different contexts (situations) in which one might use the word, and I thought I could explore each one of Mercury's qualities with my three sets of sentences.

We feature a free-to-download PPT lesson that teaches this formula and these original sets of sentences: Imp-Int-Exclam Vocab Sentences

Here is a link to our Imp-Int-Exclam Sentences checklist at Twitter, and here it is at Pinterest. Feel free to share these teaching tools with your peers.

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Day 6 in my Vocabulary Writer's Notebook:

On January 31st, I spent 15 minutes creating a short piece of writing about the word capricious; I also added new vocabulary sentences to my January 25-30th entries in my notebook, finishing my January 25th page.

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My word of the day for my notebook: capricious

I chose this word because I like it and use it, but I'm not sure what the difference is between it and its synonym--mercurial. Usually, synonyms have specific criteria linked to them, helping you know when it would be an appropriate word to use and when it wouldn't. I didn't know any specifics about either of these words except that capricious describes capricorns, of which I am one. I am also often capricious. Weird, right?

I decided to explore another root in the word capricorn, creating what we call a Root Relation Vocabulary Chart. It requires students to find a root (usually Greek or Latin) in the word and then locate and explain visually how it is related to other English words by root.

Here is a link to ourRoot Relation Vocabulary Chart checklist at Twitter, and here it is at Pinterest. Feel free to share these teaching tools with your peers.

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Day 7 in my Vocabulary Writer's Notebook:

On February 1st, I spent 15 minutes creating a short piece of writing about the word nascent; I also added new vocabulary sentences to my January 26-31st entries in my notebook, finishing my January 25th page.

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My word of the day for my notebook: nascent

I heard this word on a podcast interview, and I guessed totally wrong what it meant when I used the interviewer's other words to create a contectual guess. Anyway, I liked what this word meant when I looked it up, and I literally thought, "I have places in my life where it would sense to use that word." And that's how my February 1 was chosen.

For my writing task, I chosen the hardest Vocabulary task I think I've created--the SAUSAGE SENTENCE; in fact, if I were still teaching, I'd just be getting ready to decide if I had writers who could handle trying out sausage sentences with their vocabulary words.

Over the next six days, I will add a sentence a day to this page, finding a new sentence-based context/situation to use the word nascent; then, the page will be completed, and--hopefully--I will try using nascent in conversations. That's the point of this whole notebook: to give me confidence to use new words or words I don't use because I am not 100% certain about them.

Here is a link to our Sausage Sentence checklist at Twitter, and here it is at Pinterest. Feel free to share these teaching tools with your peers.

At then end of six or seven visits to each page, I find myself at the bottom of the page, and I call the page "finished." At that point, it is worthy of sharing. While exchanging vocabulary notebooks, I can ask my partners:

  • Where did you find/hear your word? How did you look it up?
  • How do you pronounce your word so I know I am saying it correctly?
  • What other short writing task (other than the one I did beneath the definition) could we have also completed for this word?
  • What's one way my writing task at the top might have been improved?
  • Which of my sentences do you think has the best description?
  • Which of my sentences sounds the most poetic?
  • Which of my sentences has the best context clue, in case my reader didn't know the definition?
  • Which of my sentences, if any, used humor well?
  • Which of my sentences, if any, asked a good question?

To create these finalized pages:

  • I collect and record my vocab words I want in my notebook ahead of time; I am usually about a week ahead of myself. As soon as I put a word in the notebook, I add a paraphrased definition after seeing how two different websites define the word.
  • One day #1, I create a short piece of writing that creatively or logically examines the vocabulary word, and I add one sentence.
  • Each successive day, I add another sentence, trying to use the word in a different context/situation each time.
  • When I reach the bottom of the page, I consider the page finished, and I am ready to share from it the next time we share vocabulary notebooks in class.

 

Start planning ahead!
March 14 is Pi Day,

and we have a Sacred Writing Time slide for that!

Open/Retweet our #PiDay Sacred Writing Time slide by clicking here or on the 3-14 slide above!

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

"Such a time saver! Thank you!"

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Smarter-Sounding
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.

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Don't get tired of elections. Parody them!
Run an Unlikely-to-Happen Election in Your Writer's Notebook

Unusual Notebook Election/Campaign
inspired by Doreen Cronin's
Duck for President


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

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

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

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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Don't forget to challenge those strong writers too!
Share Word Play Texts with your
Writers who Word Play during SWT.

Unique Language Comics
inspired by Jon Agee's
Palindromania


Word play begets word play
Share Punny Books, then
Challenge Word Play in Notebooks

Four Homophone Notebook Comics
inspired by Fred Gwynne's
A Chocolate Moose for Dinner

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.

Show Students How Language is Fun!
A Plethora of Fantabulous
Words Await your Students in
Ruth Heller's Books...

Collective Noun Riddles for Writer's Notebooks
inspired by Ruth Heller's
A Cache of Jewels and Other Collective Nouns

Writer's Notebooks allow Word Exploration:
Teach your Students to
Make Original Oxymorons!

Develop an Ear for Oxymoron
inspired by Jon Agee's
Who Ordered the Jumbo Shrimp?

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:


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-- Free Preview of August & September --


-- short video about SWT & Bingo Cards --

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365 Ideas for Writing/Discussing:

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Loved by both my gentlemen and lady writers
I got my money's worth from this mentor text! Tons of writing ideas!

Original Superheroes
inspired by Bob McLeod's
Superhero ABC

Some of the best haikus I share all year long...
If you don't show the pictures, the haikus serve as riddles!

Vocabulary Haikus
inspired by Jack Prelutsky's
If Not for the Cat


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

A grammatical concept can serve as a structure
Designing a story based on comparative adjectives!

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

Here's another of our free-to-use writing lessons:
Make an Alphabet-inspired List of Genres or Topics for Writing

Alpha Genres, Tones, and Topics
inspired by Susan Allen and Jane Lindeman's
Written Anything Good Lately?

 

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