Welcome. My name is Corbett Harrison, and I have been an educator and a teacher-trainer since 1991. I specialize in teaching writing using differentiated instruction. I also focus on critical thinking techniques, especially during the pre-writing and revision steps of the writing process.

I serve Northern Nevada for nine months of the year (August-May), and during summers and during our two-weeek breaks during the school year, I hire myself out to school districts and professional organizations around the country.

Summer of 2014 is all booked. If you would like to check my availability for the summer of 2015, please contact me at my e-mail address.

 

Always
Write

 
       Because writing--when taught right--can be the most enjoyable part of your teaching day, I created this website.

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I facilitate professional development workshops on both writing and differentiated instruction.

After putting so much work into building a successful writer's workshop among my own students, it was a hard decision for me to leave my classroom behind and become a full-time teacher trainer. I'm glad I did it though.

In truth, I've never been "out of the classroom." I just can't separate myself from students who are learning to write. My September-May contract with Nevada's Regional Professional Development Program allows me to design my workshops so that I co-teach with my teacher participants, and through those opportunities, I can boast and say I've taught writing to every grade level, K-16. I find when I co-teach, I do as much learning as the teachers I'm working with, and as a lifelong learner, that makes me like my work so very much.

Each summer, I make myself available to be hired by school districts outside of Northern Nevada. If you are looking to bring an outside voice to your district's teachers, know that I pride myself in designing teacher workshops that are both useful and interactive.

Personally, I have sat through too many ineffective professional development experiences--ones that throw a lot of valuable information and ideas at the participants but don't put in place a system to help teachers actually implement the strategies. I call these types of workshops "spray and pray" or "set and get" inservices. I don't do "spray and pray" or "sit and get." I'm proud to have a different style as a presenter. My number one goal with a teacher workshop is to challenge my participant's current practices without threatening them, and then to give them the ability to set manageable, achievable goals for implementing change they truly believe will work.

In Northern Nevada, I have the luxury of checking in with my workshops' teachers all school year long, since I am so geographically close to them between September and May. I can't do that when I present over the summer to out-of-state schools, and so I work with district leaders and implementation specialists before and during my summer trainings, providing useful tools and follow-up ideas to make sure the teachers who saw me during the summer months have a chance to implement the ideas that inspired them.

If you're interested in bringing me to your district or school between June and August, you can find some basic information about the cost in the box below. If you have specific questions, please contact me at corbett@corbettharrison.com, and I can contact you by phone to discuss specific ideas about your teachers' needs and how we can best serve them by having me come do a training.

Quoting Recent Evaluations:
"Corbett's enthusiasm is infectious. It makes me want to try all of these ideas next week! The information presented was exactly what I was looking for."
"Corbett, you're amazing. I learned more in these two days than I did from any of my college methods classes. Thank you! Thank you!"
"The training was so helpful and worthwhile. Thank you for reminding the staff that it is the responsibility of all members to prepare students for writing assessments."
"Corbett is an amazing presenter and has motivated me to really think about my writing instruction and my own personal ability to write. Thanks!"
"Your approach was totally effective. I not only learned how to teach writing more effectively but enjoyed the process."
Some Basic Information about Hiring me during June-August:
  • I am available for two- and three-day workshops over the summer. I am not available for single day trainings.
  • My daily fee is $1100, plus reimbursed travel and lodging expenses. I also require the district or school hiring me to provide a location for the training.
  • Inclusive in my fee: pre-training planning sessions (over the phone or through Skype) to custom-build the training; evening sessions (during the actual training) to plan follow-up strategies with district leaders and implementation specialists; all workshop materials.
  • I am flexible. We can tailor-make a two- or three-day training from the topics below that meets the needs of your school or district.
  • My summer training calendar is often completely booked by March of the same year. Plan ahead and contact me early.
Workshops I Provide over the Summer Months:

Differentiated Instruction:
The 7 Elements of a Crafted Writing Lesson
Teaching Critical Thinking:
Deepen Student Thinking with the Writing Traits

This is a two-day workshop.

Of all the subjects we teach, writing is the one that lends itself to differentiation more than any other. I find that most "writing programs" that schools purchase are of the one-lesson-fits-all mind set, and writing just can't taught that way. If you've ever caught yourself frustrating your struggling writers and boring your gifted writers with a lesson and weren't sure what to do, this workshop is for you.

The trouble with differentiation is where does one begin. Truly differentiating writing lessons should be looked at as a long-term goal for teachers. Personally, it took me three years of diligent work to arrive at a place where I was truly differentiating.

This workshop examines seven lesson elements that lend themselves nicely to differentiation, and participants set personal goals for how they will--over time--develop skill sets by implementing each of the elements to fit their style of teaching and the needs of their students.

Click here to access a sampling of the resources I use during this workshop.

This can be either a one- or two-day workshop.

The ultimate goal of writing instruction, I feel, should be increasing students' critical thinking skills. When we ask our students to create writing without teaching them to analyze and evaluate ideas and writing skills as they pre-write, draft, and revise, then we typically end up with uninspired published writing. Any child can produce a piece of final draft writing. A critical thinker can produce a piece of writing that stands out and shows original thought and fresh perspective. If you've ever felt your students wrote to an assignment more like robots than individuals, this workshop is for you.

You know, it's your students who think critically that'll surpass expectations on all tests. I guarantee this is true. I work with a lot of schools that do writing drills with their students in the months before they take tests, but it's the students who have been exposed to quality K-12 critical thinking that always out-perform everyone else on state tests. Teach writing as a critical thinking tool, and the test will take care of itself.

To teach critical thinking, students must have an academic vocabulary, and traits are a perfect language to begin with. This workshop demonstrates techniques for helping students to "own" trait vocabulary at a sophisticated level, so that critical thinking can become part of their writing process.

Click here to access a sampling of the resources I use during this workshop.

The Writing Process:
Explicitly Teaching Pre-writing and Revision
The Genres:
Narrative, Expository, and Persuasive Writing

This can be either a one- or two-day workshop.

In college, I had heard how the writing process was important, and my first five years of teaching saw me do what most teachers do: I put my writers through the motions of the writing process without explicitly modeling or teaching it.

Modeling is so critical when teaching the writing process to students. As teachers, we model reading strategies and we model mathematical thinking, but writing is a totally different ball game. Most teachers I meet don't trust their own writing skills enough to model, and so they don't. The result: their kids go through the motions of the process just as mine did, and they end up with final writing that is rarely more than rough-draft thinking that's had its spelling checked and was written with neater handwriting.

I believe all teachers can benefit from learning to better model--and, thus, explicitly teach--the two most neglected steps of the writing process: pre-writing and revision. This workshop helps teachers increase the strategies in their pre-writing and revision toolboxes, and it gives them the confidence to model all steps of the process in front of their students.

Click here to access a sampling of the resources I use during this workshop.

This can be either a one- or two-day workshop.

Writing is used for a variety of purposes, in both school and in life. Most teachers I work with understand the three main purposes of writing (which are found in Common Core Standards and most state standards), but when asked if their instruction equitably addresses all three modes, they shrug and tell me no.

For many years, I was the same way. Most of my assignments tended to be narrative (descriptive) in nature, because that's the genre I felt most comfortable teaching. We wrote a lot, but we wrote a lot for the same type of writing. While my students became really good with that type of writing, I now know I ultimately did those students a disservice in not treating all genres as equally important.

When I began making myself to do a better job with the "neglected genres" in my classroom, an interesting thing started happening. I found myself teaching more comparative thinking to my students, and their ability to talk about writing become much more sophisticated. Robert Marzano's research proved the value of pushing students to do more thinking about similarities and differences, and this workshop shows what that can and should like when talking about the different genres of writing.

Click here to access a sampling of the resources I use during this workshop.

For 4th-12th Grade Teachers:
Writing Across the Curriculum & Exit Tickets

This can be either a one- or two-day workshop.

Teaching writing shouldn't be a task designated solely to a school's language arts teachers. In schools where this happens, I believe the students miss out on important opportunities. Writing is a skill that can be used in any curricular area--math, science, history, P. E., art--, and students who write about content-area learning have a better chance of retaining the content while learning it at a higher level.

Now assigning writing is very different than teaching writing. When teachers assign writing, they expect their students to do it with minimal support or instruction from them. For example, students are often asked to answer the questions at the back of the chapter, or they're told to create a short report on non-fiction topic, and without support, what do they do? They copy and regurgitate from the text, from notes, or from the Internet. That's not teaching writing; that's assigning writing.

Teaching writing involves selecting a skill-- summarizing learned information in one's own words, for example--and before students are expected to write, the teacher has modeled and provided the support students need to complete the task. Many content area teachers assume that all students can write because they have a language arts class, so if they're assigned to write in, let's say, history class, then they should be able to transfer those skills and write for history class without modeling or support. The simple truth is this: writing in history looks and sounds different than writing in language arts. To expect students to write in content areas without explicit, content-based modeling and support doesn't work.

This workshop examines fresh ideas for teachers who want to believe that their students, through writing, should be able to do more than regurgitate learned information at a low level of Bloom's taxonomy. This workshop provides both beginning steps for all content area teachers and advanced ideas that will help seasoned writing teachers find new excitement in the endless possibilities of creative writing across the curriculum assignments.

Click here to access a sampling of the resources I use during this workshop.