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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

two random verbs...can they inspire a story?
The Verb Game

press each button below until you find TWO ACTION VERBS
you can put together in an interesting story

Student Instructions: Press the two buttons below until you have two verbs that you could include in a story. 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.


Write about a person/animal that

                                                                      

Teacher Instructions: Show students a picture (like the picture of the girl swinging above) and ask them to brainstorm as many verbs the girl is simultaneously and obviously doing. When students brainstorm, teach them the importance of listing verbs in their "infinitive form," which simply means in the form of this word equation: To + [verb]. Try to teach students to clip off affixes (like -ing and -ed) don't need to make it to the brainstorm. If they need the affixes later, they can add them, which is good practice.

I also like my students to know to clip their verbs to the infinitive form because that's the form they should be looking up in the dictionary when they are dealing with verbs. Set the foundation for this early by requiring important forms of their words.

So for my picture with the girl, I would list basic verbs in this form: laugh, swing, spin, smile, etc. I might also list phrasal verbs, like: kick dust, wave arms, smile for camera, etc. I also encourage metaphorical/poetic verbs, like: dance, fly, float, etc.

The idea here is to warm up their awareness of what a verb is before they press the buttons. What will ideally happen is a writer will ask, "Can I use a different verb than the one it gave me?" and to actually provide a "different verb" that's truly a verb. That's how you know you're teaching grammar, and that's how you incorporate it into writing.

By the way, for fourth grade and up, may I suggest you'll have students who love to write "Three Verb Poems," a format we created completely based on Brian Cleary's To Root, to Toot, to Parachute. They simply come up with simple poems where the three verbs rhyme, and they have to provide a visual that shows them going together. So if my poem was "To dash, to splash, to catch a rash," I would provide a picture of a kid playing at the public pool, most likely. With students who are a little older (or who really like to rhyme), this is a fun option. You can freely access quite a few verb poetry tasks I created inspired by the mentor texts you see on this page: Verb Invigoration lesson.

Once you feel your students have a handle on what actions verbs do in sentences, they need to play the verb game above, which asks them to write a story based on two random action verbs.

If your students feel the verb game--as presented above--is too easy, I provide you with this challenge: instead of a person or animal, write about a place (or setting) that focuses on two action verbs, like a place that glistens and flows. One of my best writing lessons shows my students how to revise their setting descriptions so they contain mostly action verbs, and none or only a few linking verbs (was, were, am, are, is, become, etc.). This is tough. Settings are passive places. How do you make a place come alive through your use of action verbs?

Finally, we are looking for interesting writing that was completed by K-5 students, using this writing prompt. Eventually, we'd like to feature the writing here as an inspiration to future students who come across this online writing prompt.

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.

 

VERBS show actions.
How many actions is the girl doing?

Mentor Texts to Strengthen your Students' Awareness of Verbs

To Root, to Toot, to Parachute: What is a Verb? by Brian P. Cleary


Kites Sail High: A Book about Verbs by Ruth Heller


If You Were a Verb
by Michael Dahl

 
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