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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 prompt we specifically designed for elementary-aged writers: Corbett@CorbettHarrison.com

One of my favorite people I ever called a colleague and friend is Jodie Black, who retired the same year I did. As a teacher, I mostly worked with all levels of middle and high school while Jodie was exclusively kindergarten, but she taught me so much about establishing classrooms environments that put students in charge of things, and yet somehow the classroom still functions. When Jodie and I co-taught a graduate-level class at our University for seven years, I am certain that I learned more from Jodie about good teaching philosophy than I learned from many of my mentors at my own grade level. Jodie Black and I shared the ability to adapt just about ANY idea for writing and make it work for our respective grades. I hope you all end up with a colleague like I did; Jodie taught me the importance of adapting ideas from good teachers.

A Story-Writing Prompt Specifically for Primary and Upper Elementary Writers
How this free-to-use lesson came to be online: In 2008, working under the direction of Jodie Black, I participated on a team that created a new publication for our local writing project chapter:

The 6 x 6 Guide: 36 Lessons for K-2 teachers
(use the link to freely download this guide, with permission from Jodie Black)

My writing teaching skills, admittedly, are quite good when working with 4th graders and older, but I always struggled to design lessons specifically for the younger grades. My job in Jodie's project was to create a website where we could share some of the lesson contributors' write-ups in online form, and I also volunteered to create a series of online, choice-driven writing prompts.

On this page, you'll find one of those original prompts for young writers that was posted at WritingFix. Since its original posting there in 2008, I have made some improvements upon it.

Thanks for checking out the writing prompt and the student samples below, and if you have any questions about this page's content, don't hesitate to contact us using this email address: corbett@corbettharrison.com

three random adjectives...can they inspire a description?
The Adjective Game

press each button below until you find THREE NOUNS
you can put together in an interesting story

Student Instructions: Press the three buttons below until you have one noun and three adjectives that you could combine to build a story-idea. Plan your story in your head. Think of some good details you'll want to include. Then write the story and share it with a friend.


Hey, young writers....can you write a story based on three interesting adjectives? Click the three buttons below to find out!



.


Then on these three buttons...

...and then write a great story!

 

Writing Challenge: Try to use synonyms and similes as you describe!

Teacher Instructions: If you do have access to any wordless picture book, play the "Adjective-Adjective" game. Decide who goes first. Open the book to a page, and the first person points at an item and describes it with an adjective from their own heads. They go back and forth for a minute or two, then decide which were the two best adjectives they thought up for that page. They can repeat this for several pages to warm up their brains to using adjectives, or describing words.

The same game can be played with a full-page photo from National Geographic or any similar magazine.

After warming up with adjectives by applying them to pictures without any words, have students click the four buttons above until they find a combination of ideas they could write a story about.

Before writing, here's what I tell the little writers:

  • It's more fun to tell a story about your object than just describe it! Come up with a story idea about your object with a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Tell a partner your story out loud before you place any words on the page. Know your whole story idea before you start writing it.
  • You may only use the three adjectives you are given one time in your story. Find synonyms or use similes to strengthen your description.

I have always felt that thesauruses often harm my students' writing more than they help. During my last year of teaching, I had Donnie, who looked up the word empty in the thesaurus because he didn't think it was a good enough adjective for the empty box in his story. Blindly, Donnie chose the word untenanted as his synonym. His character found an untenanted box in the attic, and Donnie actually thought he'd improved his writing by taking it through this type of revision process. You have to be careful with thesauruses because they don't teach writing skills; they provide lists of synonyms, usually without context at all.

If your students select a synonym for their adjective they've never seen before, require them to look the word up and discuss it before deciding if it's the right word. Untenanted was absolutely the wrong word, and Donnie and I could have cleared the whole misunderstanding up with a conversation before he wrote down a word he was unfamiliar with.

With all our kid prompts, we're looking for student samples inspired by the prompt above on this page. If you end up with a writer who impresses you by a) brainstorming ideas and options first, b) drafting a good idea with details, and c) revising the writing so that it sounds polished, and d) editing the writing so it's error-free.

Student Samples? If you have a student sample inspired by this page's interactive prompt, and if it would excite that student to have it be seen, please post it as a reply to this Pin at our Pinterest Board of Kid Prompts. Kindly, do not post students' last names. I'm looking for K-5 samples to share on this page, and I'll send you a gift from our Teachers Pay Teachers store if we end up publishing your student at this page as an exemplar for other students to enjoy and analyze.

ADJECTIVES describe things.
What words describe this koala?

Mentor Texts to Strengthen your Students' Awareness of Adjectives

Hairy, Scary Ordinary: What is an Adjective?
by Brian P. Cleary


Many Luscious Lollipops: A Book About Adjectives by Ruth Heller


If You Were an Adjective
by Michael Dahl

 
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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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