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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.


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

Here's one of my original writer's notebook lessons. To assist our students as they pre-write in their Writer's Notebooks for ideas that will become Writing Workshop topics, my wonderful wife (Dena Harrison), a fabulous fellow NNWP Consultant (Jenny Hoy), and I conceived and created eight Restaurant-themed Choice Menus for Notebooks/Workshop during a recertification class we took during Spring Break of 2012. In August of 2012, we made available for the first time the entire set of eight menus at our Teachers Pay Teachers store. Each culturally-themed menu comes with five sections, each with three choices: appetizers, soup, salad, entrees, and desserts. Students can earn a special notebook sticker by making a complete "meal" using the different sections of the menu during the month that we're using that particular menu; many students choose not to use the menus' ideas, but they provide great support to your writers who are resistant to bringing their own ideas to Sacred Writing Time and Writer's Workshop.

Want more than a sticker, you say? The "Salad Section" for each month's menu is actually an "extra credit" notebook option. Inspired by a different mentor text that we will display in class, each menu will feature a unique online challenge that comes with a teacher-model to inspire creativity. Students who read through the online notebook challenge below, enjoy the featured mentor text independently, and then peruse my teacher-model to create an original page in their notebooks will also receive a bonus notebook participation grade. The final notebook page must be neat, creative, illustrated, and colored!
A Notebook Challenge from the Irish Restaurant-themed Writing Menu:
My "Trio of Tacos" Salad from our Writer's Workshop Menu
Collective Nouns:
Celebrating & Creating Interesting Vocabulary Words and Interactive Notebook Riddles

Overview of this Notebook Prompt:

Collective nouns are a really great type off word to study when trying to intrigue students to become word collectors. There are some amazing discoveries to be made when you start investigating this type of nouns.

  • A group of crows is called a murder of crows.
  • A group of unicorns is called a blessing of unicorns.
  • A group of ships is called an armada of ships.
  • A group of witches is called a coven of witches.

For this writer's notebook challenge, students will investigate interesting collective nouns, choosing two favorites that they think their classmates don't know. They will also invent two collective nouns that sound like they could actually be collective nouns. All four of their collective nouns will become a quiz in their writer's notebooks they can share with each other.

The mentor text that inspired this notebook idea:

A Cache of Jewels
by Ruth Heller

As humans, we like to create special words that stand for a group of things. More often than not, we do this with groups of animals, but it can also be done with objects, as seen on the cover of Ruth Heller's picture book A Cache of Jewels and Other Collective Nouns.

It's easy to find lists of actual collective nouns that primarily focus on animal groups on the Internet, but it's harder to find one that mixes animals with other nouns that can be in groups, like an armada of ships. Here is a link to a pretty good site with a combination of both: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/grammar/partsofspeech/nouns/collective/ Please ignore the flashing ads!

Your first task is to find two actual collective nouns that you really like but that you don't think others will have heard of before. You're looking for two new vocabulary words--for yourself, and for your classmates.

What's interesting about collective nouns, to me as a thinker, is the why behind them? Why that word to stand for that grouping? Do many crows make you think of a murder? Would seeing many unicorns be a blessing? A group of hummingbirds is called a charm, so was the person who made the word charmed by what he saw? As you examine the lists of actual collective nouns, keep asking yourself, "Why that word?"

Now that you've explored some interesting collective nouns, your second task here is to be creative and invent some collective nouns that don't exist but that sound like they would be appropriate. My wife and I do this while on car trips sometimes, and we come up with some pretty funny ones. The following collective nouns are not really collective nouns; they are supposed to be jokes.

  • Question: What would you call a group of clumsy people? Answer: A stumble of klutzes!
  • Question: What would you call a group of bad actors? Answer: A ham of performers!
  • Question: What would you call a group of pigeons? Answer: A filth of pigeons!
  • Question: What would you call a group of GT thinkers? Answer: An annoyance of students! (Just kidding)

Can you brainstorm and invent two collective nouns that don't exist but should? Can you create two that sound like they might actually be real even though they are jokes?

On a page in your Writer's Notebook:
Illustrate a Four-Panel Celebration of Collective Nouns: two that are real and two that you make up.
Write a quality sentence that uses each of your four collective nouns. Make the two fake ones sound real!
Share your completed page with your Sacred Writing Time Partners to see if they can spot the real two!

Once your page is created, you will quiz your classmates by showing them your page and asking, "Which two are really collective nouns, and which two are ones that I made up?"

Need an example? Here's the page I created for my writer's notebook. What do you think? Let me know by telling me in class or--if you're not one of my own students--by e-mailing me: corbett@corbettharrison.com. Can you create a writer's notebook page that's more original than mine? I'll bet you can...

Delightful Samples from my Students' Notebooks
(Click on the images to see them in larger form)
8th grader Rianna added her sentences with pull-out tabs. Click the image to see what I mean. 7th grader Ryan--always one of my best writer's notebook keepers--had a delighftul page of collective nouns. 8th grader Sierra combined both original pictures and computer clip-art to create her page of collective nouns. 8th grader Ashlee fooled me as I tried to guess which two collective nouns were real and which two were fake. All are fake!

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