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WritingFix lessons--
traits and mentor texts


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 right--can be the most enjoyable part of your teaching day, we created this website to provide fresh ideas and lessons for teachers.

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

Sometimes you stumble across a perfect mentor text to inspire some writing specifically for your students' writer's notebooks. I certainly did the day I was handed a copy of Written Anything Good Lately? During our first week or month of school, I'd always started my writer's notebook routine by having the students make a personalized alpha-list of genres they might write explore over their 36 weeks of my class. Here I found a a mentor text that showed me that simple idea could be expanded; at the time, I was teaching 6, 7, and 8th grade at the time, so I created three variations of this lesson; every good writing lesson is adaptable--I don't care what grade you teach:

  • My sixth graders started the year with an Alpha-Genres list, much like that found in the mentor text.
  • My seventh graders started the year with an Alpha-Expository-Topics list, since expository writing was how we began with that grade level.
  • My eight graders, who were developing written voice, created Alpha-Tones, which explored the different attitudes one could try to convey through writing.
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. 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 we should establish a website and begin posting our favorite lessons and resources that we created and successfully used during our time in the classroom. Maybe others would share back?

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 almost a decade, 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 a 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 instruction. 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

Teach a writer's notebook/SWT option
while creating a student-centered notebook resource

Alpha-Genres

or Alpha-Expository Topics or Alpha-Tones or Alpha [Idea]...

Once a month, in order to give my students new ideas for different ways they can explore writing in their writer's notebooks, we go through a whole class writer's notebook lesson--like the one on this page. In these lessons, we study different formats that writing can take, and I invite my students to use those types of formats from time to time in their notebooks. An Alpha-list is a writing format my students can accomplish in a ten-minute session of Sacred Writing (or maybe two). The lists serve as a personal list of writing topics or challenges, if assigned by the right teacher.

Quick Overview: I start by using the same challenge from the mentor text, but I make them try without sharing the book to them first: "Can you come up with an A-Z list of 26 different "forms" your writing might take? Can you be creative when you do as many as possible? For letter 'E,' instead of essay perhaps you might think of early morning haikus, or a eulogy for my gym socks.

For this task, my students brainstorm such lists on scratch paper, select and organize their lists as rough drafts, then they carefully add neater, finalized versions in their actual writer's notebooks. We put them early on in our notebooks because--if the task on this page is taught well--the students will have many future, self-chosen topics ready to write about.

Because I've used this task during the same year with different grade levels, I've also had my students explore A-Z lists of expository/research topics that interested them, and we did A-Z lists of tones or attitudes (or written voices) a piece of writing might express to its readers.

Again, should my students--after this assignment is completed--come to class with no idea about an idea they might write about that day, this decorated list they create in their notebooks serves as a person topic base or idea generator.

Essential Questions/Objectives/Mentor Text Suggestions:

  • How is brainstorming using an alpha-list different than more freestyle brainstorming? When might you use alpha-lists as a brainstorming tool?
  • How do I check myself that I am brainstorming topics/ideas I would actually write about and not simply filling in words that match the letter I am brainstorming?
  • For you more advanced writers (and you have them!) Can you combine two adjacent letters of the alphabet to create a single answer for the brainstorm? (Like using 'C and D" on the alphalist to create 'crime dialogue' as a single option, instead of two different options)

    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.*.3.D -- Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to convey experiences and events.
    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.

Here's one of our original writer's notebook ideas: alpha-genres. To assist our students as they maintain writer's notebooks for the classroom, my lovely wife and I created monthly Writer's Notebook Bingo Cards; the first card is for August, the last for May. Each Bingo card comes with twenty-four ideas and suggestions for creating a unique notebook page that--once added to the notebook--might very well inspire future writing, especially if you're using a writer's workshop philosophy.

My students receive a new Bingo card on the first day of every month; if they create a "Bingo" by completing five ideas "in a row," they earn a special sticker from my extra credit basket for their notebook, and the same award is applied if they make a "four corners." I don't want students to do "black outs" of the Bingo because they're all supposed to be learning to create their own topics, not depend on mine.

I will have students who choose not to use the Bingo card's suggestions at all (because they have their own ideas ready-to-go), I have others who will take a few suggestions from the card but not enough to win a sticker, and I will have students who are completely dependent on the card for notebook ideas for several months before they take the risk of finding original topics they feel are worthy or writing about. It takes all types to build a writing classroom.

Even when my students don't need a monthly topic Bingo Cards anymore (because they've learned to independently come up with topics), they are still valuable tools because they all come with a special "Center-square lesson." Once a month, we do a whole-class lesson for the notebook, and this lesson is featured in the center space of each month's bingo card, where it serves as everyone's "free space," since this is a Bingo Card. On this page, you are reading the center-square lesson that comes from our set of Ten Writer's Notebook Bingo Cards. We take great pride in our monthly notebook "lessons'" products, so the cards' lessons are ready-to-go reminders or jolts if your students' notebook writing starts becoming lazy.

Writer's Notebooks serve as a critically important tool in both Harrisons' classrooms, and during the first few weeks of school, Dena and I spend extra time encouraging students to take pride in their writer's notebooks as they start them, and to take risks with them as they grow more comfortable writing in them. Every day, our students have 10 minutes of Sacred Writing Time, and with those minutes they can be as recklessly creative as they'd like. They can also write unique lists, short poems, describe their previous day's experiences, or create alphabet lists. Many of my students end the school year with a dozen different ideas explored in the form of the alphabetical list, and they know this is a valid use of their sacred writing time because it's one of the center-square lessons I teach them. After they create recipe metaphors based on the October card's center square lesson, they feel comfortable using recipes in their notebooks after a practice session or two, and they learn the 16-word poem format (inspired by William Carlos Williams) in November, lo and behold, they start writing them on their own. The lessons in the center of all 10 Bingo Cards are designed to teach the students to take creative approaches to using those 10 daily minutes of promised writing time.

Our set of Writer's Notebook Bingo Cards, if you're interested in launching a writer's notebook routine of your own, is a great investment at $13.00. You can also bundle these 10 cards with our other two sacred writing time resources and save by clicking here.

The mentor text that inspired this lesson:

Written Anything Good Lately?
by Susan Allen and Jane Lindaman
_____________________________________

Also by the same authors:

Read Anything Good Lately?
by Susan Allen and Jane Lindaman


Used Any Numbers Lately?
by Susan Allen and Jane Lindaman


Our September Notebook Bingo Card

This writer's notebook page idea was inspired by a wonderful little alphabet book: Written Anything Good Lately? by Susan Allen and Jane Lindaman. The book provides an alphabet-inspired list that explores 26 different and highly unique genres of writing. The book serves its purpose of helping me illustrate the idea that anything we write can be written in an interesting way or a unique way.

After discussing Written Anything Good Lately?--an alphabet book that explores different (often clever) forms, modes, and genres that writing can take in a classroom--students spend one or two weeks at the beginning of the school year slowly and thoughtfully creating their own alpha-lists of types/forms of writing they would be willing to create during the upcoming year of writing.

When all students have brainstormed a complete and unique alpha-list, they then devote a two-page spread in their writer's notebooks to neatly publish and decorate their lists. Over a week's time, they illustrate their lists when they have a free moment or two in class. I give special notebook stickers to the five best from each class.

Once a classroom writer's workshop has been established, this two-page spread can be revisited whenever students are seeking a new idea for a writing assignment. If using our ten-card set of ten Writer's Notebook Bingo Cards we created, please know the remainder of the Bingo cards have a space that says "Find something on your Alpha-Genres List and write it for ten minutes," so it's kind of required that you complete this lesson if you're going to use the whole set of Bingo Cards after using September's. No worries...it's an easy and fun lesson for both you and them.

Lucky for most who use the whole set of Bingo Cards, this lesson always produces a fun addition that valuably helps inspire the philosophy of a writer's notebook: think like a writer by writing about topics that interest you personally. Ass teacher, I have to keep remembering to remind students NOT to put anything on their final product they wouldn't be willing to write about during an upcoming ten minutes of Sacred Writing Time; otherwise, this becomes an exercise in filling in words that start with letters, not an actual task that will build a tool that could easily inspire a writer (or his partner) to do some self-chosen writer's workshop writing at a later date.

Two Variations of this idea: The first year I felt I had perfected this lesson (which was probably the second year I taught it), all my 6th-8th graders created alpha-genres for their notebooks; the year after that--when my sixth graders became my seventh graders and my seventh graders became my eighth graders--I knew I had to create new variations for them when they started their school year up with me again. Below the alpha-genre examples, be sure to see the Alpha-Topics pages I do with all my seventh graders, and the Alpha-Tones pages I do with all my eighth graders.


Beginning the Alpha-Genre version of this Lesson with a Brainstorm-inspiring Idea Mentor Text
Sharing the Mentor Text/Brainstorming:
In my classroom, I spend the first month of school establishing the all-important writer's workshop environment that I need to be in place to teach writing the way that feels best to me. Slowly and diligently, we learn the vocabulary and practice the processes students will need in order to become the 'community of writers' I expect them to become. Not only do they learn how the writer's workshop will work and what roles they will play, but they also begin to collect and record independent topics they would be willing to write about. Every teachers' writer's workshop adaptation is a little different and, in mine, students have a combination of assigned and free-choice writing they will be doing during workshop days; this particular lesson write-up sets my students up with a resource for any of their upcoming free-choice tasks: a personal alpha-genre list.

First, share the fact that the book is an alphabet book, and share the first two or three pages. Tell them this is an alphabetized list naming different forms writing can take. The 'A' page features an autobiography, and the 'B' page features a book report (a brilliant book report, in fact). Ask, "What do you think are some of the other forms (or genres) of writing that might appear on the other pages?" Allow them some time to brainstorm with a partner or small group. This is a great opportunity to learn what they already know about different genres and purposes of writing. So walk around and use your auditory skills to spy on their conversations. Guide them to go more specific: "You put poetry for P; can you think of any poetry forms that have a more specialized name?"

As they discover the mentor text uses a lot of alliteration (like brilliant book report), challenge them to add alliterative adjectives to the different forms of writing they brainstormed, or to come up with alternative alliterations for the book's items: a better-than-bad book report, for example.

Inform students you are going to give them a pre-writing task that you want them to spend a week on: you are going to have them create the most unique alpha-list of interesting things they might write during this upcoming school year. Not topics! What FORMATS/SHAPES can they use when exploring topics? Love Letters? Fake News Stories? Mystery stories? Acrostics? Let them talk while they brainstorm and you'll know all sorts of formats the students may already know or need to know.

I give my students a few minutes here and there to add to their lists, and in between any time you give them in class, they are to be thinking of unique forms of writing to add to their lists later. Students will be allowed to share ideas with each other, just so long as everyone ends up with a different list of 26 items; no two people should have the exact same list of 26.

Distribute the alpha-list brainstorming sheet pictured at left. I like to run a blank copy on both sides of the paper for those students who "mess up" and want to start over.

During the next week of class, remind students of this task. Brainstorm out loud in front of them: "Hey guys, I came home yesterday and there was a pamphlet in my mailbox. Has anyone thought of putting a pamphlet in their P section of the alpha-list yet?" Give them a few minutes here and there to add; celebrate out loud when a student independently brings an idea to you that the student thought of.

Also, encourage them to combine letters that are next to each other on the alpha-list into one item. On my teacher model below, for example, I combined my A and B boxes into this noun phrase: an Allegory about Bullying.



Continue the Alpha-Genre Version of this Lesson with Good Modeling--with teacher and/or student models
Modeling/Creating the Assigned Writer's Notebook Page:

In my writer's workshop, most of my students' ideas for their independent writing begins in their writer's notebooks. If you have never established a writer's notebook routine with your students, be sure to read over Always Write's Writer's Notebook Resource Page, and if you can, get yourself a copy of Ralph Fletcher's A Writer's Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You. This little advice guide from Ralph (pictured) is a constantly-referred-to text in my classroom, especially in the first few months that we're setting up our notebooks. Unlike a journal, which contains daily thoughts and often-forced ramblings, a writer's notebook is a place where students 'save' ideas, observations, or arguments that occur to them; the ideas they save must be topics the students would be willing to explore further during an upcoming writer's workshop block.

Once a week, I require my students to make something visual happen in their notebooks, incorporating stickers, cut-outs, and original drawings inspired by ourMr. Stick "margin mascot", which I introduce students to in the very first weeks of school. Mr. Stick becomes a common visual in my students' notebooks, and he allows them all to be "artists" even when they're not; you should look at my Pinterest Board inspired by Mr. Stick to see how very great the pages of their notebooks become; if you're not a member of Pinterest (which is free to join), you may not be taken to my specific board if you use the link I have provided.

This lesson's two-page notebook spread is a good opportunity to have students practice the combination of words and visuals early on in the school year. But they need to see a model. I believe it so very important to have my own version of this notebook page assignment that I can show my writers. Below, you will find mine, which you can certainly claim as your own if you're feeling uncreative or overwhelmed, but I'm including it here as my attempt to inspire you to create your own. Your students will be incredibly inspired to do a better job with this notebook spread if they see your creative attempt to do the same assignment. They love my notebook, which you can see pages from at this Pinterest Board; if you're not a member of Pinterest, the link probably won't take you to my specific board.

Before having students transfer their brainstormed alpha-list choices in to their notebooks, it might serve a good purpose to have students double-check each other's work on their alpha-genre lists for misspellings. Once you and they feel confident that their lists are somewhat spell-checked, have them divide up a two-page spread (with comic book-style boxes) that would allow them to record their 26 ideas; they could have less than 26 if they combined two letters into one noun phrase (as I did with my Allegory about Bullying), so you might want to have them carefully count their actual number of items, then divide the total by 4 (for four rows, as you see in my example, which leaves enough room for small illustrations) so they can figure out how many different boxes they need in each row. Planning a layout for a page like this absolutely helps to build ORGANIZATION skills, by the way.

In my notebook, I tend to lightly pencil my boxes in first, then ink/color pencil them in once I verify I've left enough space for all. If you do this, be careful with ink that soaks through because you will not be able to use the backside of your pages if you use this type of ink. My kids use those Sharpies sometimes, and those really soak through to the next page.

So here's the deal. I often photograph my own process when I am making a teacher model. Below is evidence of me completing the last two steps of creating my own alpha-genre page. I showed these two steps to my students before I added my visuals; I took a digital photo of this page before adding pictures, and I can show the digital picture when we're at this step of the process. If you click on the picture, you can see it in a slightly larger form and you can print it. If you are unwilling to make your own model, you have my permission to lie to your kids and say this is your model. I discovered after thirty years of teaching that when you write the same thing your students are going to write, you are able to guide them about 300% better because you've gone through the process too.

Here's my Teacher Model after I've planned my final layout, before adding pictures
Here's my Teacher Model after I've added pictures to finalize my page
Click either image to see it on your classroom's projector.

Over the next week, whenever we had a free minute at the end of any activity, I challenged students to grab their notebooks plan a visual for one or two of their comic-book-sized boxes; some students, of course, asked to take them home, where they added stickers, magazine clippings, or drawings. At the end of the week, I gave students twenty minutes to finish whatever boxes weren't complete, and I had colored pencils ready for those who already had all their images down on the pages.

Here are three favorite student Alpha-Genre Samples for your students to analyze, if desired.
Click any image above to see it on your classroom's projector.

 

Create a Classroom Resource while Students are Completing this Assignment for their Notebooks
A community of writers shares ideas...create a poster, celebrating really unique answers that you can hang up later on workshop days

As my students brainstorm, draft, and publish these Alpha-Genre pages for their notebooks, I purposely create a classroom resource: a poster. Below, you can see a sample I photographed back in the 2011-12 school year, a year I had a really creative group of students. As they worked on this writing task, I wandered. As I wandered, I actively sought out clever, unique and charming answers from my students. My students were honored when/if I bent down beside them and said, "Oh wow, your answer for [insert alphabet letter here] is so darned creative. Can I add it to my secret class list I am building?" I made one of these lists for each of the two or three grade levels I was usually assigned.

Having the list visible was great. Not only did it display the "best of the best" ideas from our early-in-the-year task for our writer's notebooks, but it also reminded each student they had their own lists in their own notebooks that could be mined at any time for a writing topic.

When students finish their decorated versions of their lists, I require them to share them, usually with their Sacred Writing Partners, but we've had fun doing a whole-class walk-around, where we all looked at each other's finished products while we wandered the rows with a specific purpose: "find the one you wish you'd thought of" is a favorite quest of my students.

After students have laughed and shared their pages with each other, explain, "Next time we have Sacred Writing Time or a Writer's Workshop day and you're unsure about what you can start working on, here is a page that may inspire you. I expect everyone to use--at least--one idea from this page before the year is out. We might even have a little contest that rewards the writer who uses the most ideas from this two-page spread, so find a way to keep track, and find a reason to keep visiting this page in your notebook."

Remember, establishing SWT and a Writer's Workshop environment requires that you remain very conscious of community. Everyone should be contributing their parts here and there, so they feel they belong to the community. Having an item from your alpha-list on the master class list may not sound like much to you, but there are students who absolutely see that gesture as an invitation to join a community they may have reluctantly joined if their item hadn't been listed. As a teacher building a community, every small gesture of accomplishment, especially at the beginning, can go a long way.


Variations on the Alpha-Theme for Writer's Notebooks or Brainstorming
This idea works with more topics than "Alpha-genres"

Earlier in this write-up, I mentioned that I made three variations over the years, since I found myself in the situation for several years teaching writer's notebooks and Writer's Workshop to three different grade levels, each grade level having its own curriculum focus in writing.

PLEASE don't think because I assigned this lesson to a certain grade level that this means that's the only grade level that should use this assignment. Adapt the idea to fit the grade level and ability levels of the students you teach in your classroom.

  • My sixth graders became my grade level that completed the ALPHA-GENRES task for their writer's notebooks in September.
  • My seventh graders became my grade level that completed the ALPHA-RESEARCH TOPICS task for their writer's notebooks in September. This set us up nicely for our first Writer's Workshop requirement: a research paper based on a self-chosen, teacher-approved research topic.
  • My eighth graders became my grade level that completed the ALPHA-TONES task for their writer's notebooks in September. This set us up nicely for our first Writer's Workshop objective: Argumentative papers that utilize a pre-determined tone(s).
Two Alpha Expos-Topics Lists and an Alpha-Tones Voice List Example

 

Now that I'm out of the classroom, I'm looking for newer samples of this lesson. If you have a student create a particularly great example, photograph or scan it and send it to us at corbett@corbettharrison.com. If we end up sharing it here or at our Pinterest or Twitter Boards, we'll send you a complementary product from our Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

This lesson has a Publishing Option!

If you have a student or two create very original Alpha-Genre Notebook pages, post them to Twitter with the hashtag: #AlphaGenres

Our You Using Our Writer's Notebook Bingo Card?
The Lesson on this Page Comes from our September Bingo Card


You can freely preview August & September's Notebook Bingo Topic Cards here at our TPT Store.

The center square on each Bingo Card contains a whole class writer's notebook lesson/challenge. The lesson on this page at Always Write is the September Bingo Card's Center-Square Lesson.

"I love that this resource is creative and encourages students to have fun with writing each day. I also love how the bingo cards tie into reading by including model texts and author's craft. "

--Teachers Pay Teachers customer review


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.

"You put so much time into everything you do. These are great resources, thank you!"

--Teachers Pay Teachers customer review


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."

---Teachers Pay Teachers customer review


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

Notebook Mentor Texts that Inspire Student Writers:
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.

365 Ideas for Writing/Discussing:

-- Teachers Pay Teachers Link --

Here's another of our free-to-use writing lessons:
Begin this one on school picture day, or somewhere thereabouts...


Worst School Picture Day Ever Lesson
inspired by Margie Palatini's Bedhead

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

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?

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

"I have diamonds, clubs, and spades,"
Tom said heartlessly.

That's a Tom Swift-y! Named for a Boys' Adventure Hero!

Tom Swiftie Dialogue Puns
inspired by the style of writing of Victor Appleton II, author of the original Tom Swift adventures

Here's another of our free-to-use writing lessons:
Airplanes have First Class seats.
Shouldn't school buses?

First-Class School Bus Seats
inspired partly by Mo Willems'
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

Writing across the Curriculum:
Anachronism takes the form of a Live Newscast

Strange Time/Place for a News Reporter
inspired by Margie Palatini's tub-boo-boo

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

An inspired STRUCTURE mentor text
Impersonating A Test's "Voice"
in a Math-Crazy World? Fun!

My Own Darn Math Curse
inspired by Jon Scieszka's
Math Curse


What's Vocabulary Workshop?
a learner-centered routine that teaches writing and vocabulary skills while building a stronger community of learners.

Vocab Workshop Resource Page
free resources and lessons for helping
students truly learn vocabulary

If you're interested in purchasing our Vocabulary Workshop PowerPoint Lessons, visit our
Teachers Pay Teachers Store

"Love this resource - so easy to use. Much more creative than standard vocabulary tasks. My students love it.

--Teachers Pay Teachers customer review


Do you appreciate free lessons but can't purchase our for-sale items?

That's fair, but did you know there are two less direct ways you can financially help our site. We actually receive a small "bounty" 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 our link above please to give us credit. Try Audible for free, and we receive a small donation from Amazon to stay online. Use our link please. You'll get two free audio books!

By the way, Dena and I are both Prime and Audible members, and we love everything about both services.

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

In this text, punctuation marks send postcards!
What other unusual items might send your notebook a postcard?

Edge Postcards
inspired by a fun idea in Robin Pulver's
Punctuation Takes a Vacation

 

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