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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 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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I designed this lesson to be used after Christmastime, even though I know I had students who do not celebrate that particular--if any--holiday in December. This lesson can certainly be applied to any opportunity where one is listing many items. I've included Shel Silverstein's "Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout Would not Take the Garbage Out" as a fine example of a rhyming list poem that has nothing to do with a Christian holiday. I guess I'm saying if you decide to do this lesson, have an alternative topic ready for students who may not celebrate on December 25.

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. In retirement, we are posting a lesson/resource every month so that we keep in touch with out favorite group out there: hard working, honest teachers.

Above all else, remember our lessons are meant to be adapted to work for you and your students. I write them up based on how they worked in my classroom, but my classroom is NOT the same your classroom. Read. Adapt. Make the lesson idea your own.

Because sometimes you just need ten minutes to have fun with words...
Rhyming List Challenge
Working alone (or with partners) to rhyme out a list of contents

While visiting Dena's lovely side of the family over the holidays in 2019, I discovered and read The Longest Christmas List Ever among my nieces and nephew's (a.k.a. my niblings') Christmas books. Immediately, a lesson I used to do for my students came to mind. I hope you enjoy.

Quick Overview: I always have a half dozen to a dozen kids per class who love rhyming words. They will often write rhyming couplet poems during their Sacred Writing Time, and often the rhyming words feel forced and the poems are ultimately NOT my students' best writing, but they have fun writing rhyming lists, and that's what writer's notebook time is for: fun or "recess with words."

I used this assignment as a writer's notebook option for students who wanted to try making a rhyming list or rhyming story that's based on a list. By doing so, only the students who want to write this way can, and the others can write about something else.

Impersonating the style of The Longest Christmas List Ever as a "rhyming list poem," students (alone or with a partner) compose their own version of a list of desired toys and gifts from someone who wants a little too much next year for Christmas. Students love to share list poems like this one aloud with their peers, and if you use Sacred Writing Partnerships, the sharing leads to other students being inspired to write similar list poems in the future. A community of writers becomes somewhat dependent on students sharing their fresh ideas or approaches for writing with a single partner or two; those possible partners might make their own lists that can shared with different partners. As Einstein said, "Creativity is contagious." Let it be through your writer's notebook approach.

At present, the samples for this lesson are more narrative in nature; I am currently designing another portion to this write-up that will focus on more informative types of writing.

Essential Questions/Objectives/Mentor Text Suggestions:

  • What writing skills do I need to employ to create a rhyming list that is descriptive and memorable to my readers/listeners?
  • What is my best example of a clever rhyming couplet in my rhyming list poem?
  • (Advanced Writers) What skills do I need to employ to create a rhyming list poem that has a rhythm or cadence to it as well as a rhyme scheme/pattern?

    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.*.10 -- Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.*.3.B -- Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, and description, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
    Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to convey experiences and events.
    -- With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

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 favorite classroom mentor texts that use rhyming lists...

The Longest Christmas List Ever by Gregg & Evan Spiridellis

"Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out" from Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends.

Teaching this Lesson: Remember my basic philosophy of education: I do, you watch; you do while working with a partner/team; you do, I watch and give feedback; and finally, you do. This philosophy works for students' writer's notebooks much better if the teacher is keeping his/her own notebook. Otherwise, you lose the "I do" portion of the teaching.

Remember, I offer this rhyming list poem as a writer's notebook option for my students who are interested. I have required rhyming couplet lists on larger projects, but this page's write-up will focus on one thing for now, and--later--one thing I am currently working on: using this as a tool for summarizing research done for informative/expository writing or persuasive/argumentative writing.

Whenever I roll out a new idea for the ten minutes of daily writing my students do, I begin by showing examples of the same type of writing from my own notebook. Lately, I've been trying not to make these example too much about me because I've discovered there are teachers out there who tell their students they are the "authors" of the teacher models I post here. I'm fine with that, but I'd rather have teachers who use this lesson and our teaching ideas to be keeping their own notebooks, to be creating their own rhyming couplet lists. You can also probably find a few inspiring mentor texts by typing "rhyming list poem examples" into Google; make sure you look for ones that really rhyme, like the example at left I found at my friend and poet--Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's--website. A poem as simple but as effective as her "Thanksgiving" poem inspires my kids to try and write something similar during their ten minutes of Sacred Writing Time.

The Longest Christmas List Ever by Gregg & Evan Spiridellis is another mentor text in the form of a picture book for this writing task. The book also has a nice moral about giving and receiving what's really important. A large portion of this mentor text is a "rhyming list poem" that inspires my students to write something similar.

Finally--and I won't swear it's in the public domain for free use because I'm not sure, but surely your library has-- a copy of Shel Silverstein's "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out". If your library doesn't, first of all, "Yikes!" and, second of all, try the link I've left you. That's for a Google search, and surely someone has a copy posted (hopefully legally, Mr. Silverstein) somewhere you can use. Me? I'll tell you to get a copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends because I think no E/LA classroom should be without this book for those students who finish reading/writing early. Anyway, I consider this poem to be the epitome of a "rhyming couplet list poem." It's long though, so I use it and warn the students their list poems don't need to be nearly as long.

Next, I show them--over a few days right after Sacred Writing Time--list poems I have made for my own writer's notebook over the years. These poems are written quickly, and they're certainly not my best work, but rhyming makes me have fun when I write. Some days I just need to have a little fun with words before I do anything serious with them. Again, that's why this is a great optional task for students' writer's notebooks. You have students who will perform better with a writing warm-up they find enjoyable.

Rhyming List Poems from my own Writer's Notebook
(please be kind...I'm not much of a poet!)

I call this my "What will we achieve as a human race by the time I die?" list poem. Whenever, I attend an English teacher conference, I always find lots of free stickers about poetry at the vendors' booths; they help my bad poems seem a bit better.

I do the weekly shopping, hate doing the weekly shopping when the store is crowded, so I shop at Wal-Mart at 3:00 or 3:30 a.m. on Thursday or Friday. My kids think I'm crazy for doing this. Here is my attempt at a "Wal-Mart Shopping List" list poem

At NCTE 2019, I received this postcard with a poem about seeds during a session I attended. I decided to create a "Things that might Grow from a Seed" list poem.

And finally, as I prepared to post this lesson write-up, I impersonated the mentor text (which I read to my niblings at Christmas, 2019) and wrote this list of holiday gifts I didn't get that would have been cool.

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If my students take me up on the challenge of creating a "Rhyming List Poem" on any topic in their Writer's Notebooks, I allow them something special. If they tell me what their list is about before class starts, I allow them use of a laptop, IPad, or cell phone to access the best website out there for creating rhymes:

RhymeZone is the easiest and most thorough online rhyming dictionary I know about. Be aware: if students search for harmless words--like ratio--a four-syllable synonym for a certain sexual oral act will come up on their list of choices; unfortunately, here is no bowdlerized, more student-friendly version of this online tool. You've been cautioned.

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I find it takes my students a few days of ten-minute writing periods to complete a rhyming list poem, especially if they are using RhymeZone. I will be posting student samples of rhyming lists from their notebooks over the next few months in the table below.

Rhyming List Poems from my Students' Writer's Notebook
(currently in my pile of "to scan" items)
Student samples...
...coming soon.



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Rhyming Lists for Writing Across the Curriculum: I apologize this portion of the lesson is not yet ready to be presented.

Writing Across the Curriculum/Informative Rhyming Lists Based on Research
I have this great idea for making this into a Writing Across the Curriculum option for history, science, or other research-based curriculum. Unfortunately, with the book deadlines I keep running into, I haven't had time to create samples and adopt a local classroom wherein to try this.

The write-up will be coming soon. Check back in with us!



We even have an SWT slide for 2020's Leap Day
Our Sacred Writing Time Slides

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Here's another of our free-to-use writing lessons:
Creating Acrostic-Styled Lists of
Examples and Non-Examples

Vocabulary Acrostic Riddles
inspired by Bob Raczka's Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word

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.

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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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A Grammar in Context Lesson:
Re-Working one of the Most Famous Introductions Ever Written

Fixing Mr. Dickens' Comma Splices
inspired by Charles Dickens'
A Tale of Two Cities

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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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.

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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.

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.

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