Welcome. My name is Corbett Harrison, and I have been an educator and a teacher-trainer since August of 1990. 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. Every year, I challenge myself to improve my instruction: I am curretly developing grammar and vocabulary lessons so that they're differentiated and promote deep, critical thinking skills, and I incorporate them into my classroom routines to promote a student-centered classroom environment.

The Northern Nevada district I serve has a "balanced calendar" that has me teaching from early August to early June, and during my 7 weeks of summer and during my two annual two-week breaks, I independently contract to present workshops to school districts and professional organizations around the country.

This October, I am presenting in both Carson City, Nevada (October 8) and Billings, Montana (October 21).

Our spring break here is March 20-31, 2017. As of yet, I have had no requests for either of my two weeks off. As soon as I book a session during one of those weeks, I will take down the availability of the other so that I have a little time off this spring.

I have already begun receiving requests for the summer of 2017, but nothing has been officially booked yet.

You can find general information about the cost of my workshops here.

If you would like to check my availability for 2016-17, please contact me at this e-mail address.


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

the "always write" homepage | email me | writingfix | pinterest | facebook | teachers pay teachers | twitter | lesson of the month  

I facilitate professional development workshops on both writing and differentiated instruction. Contact me at corbett@corbettharrison.com to check my availability.

During the summer months (as well as our fall and spring breaks), Dena and I not only create new resources to share here online, but I also personally travel to other districts and regions to provide workshops. Dena stays home and takes care of our herd of Westie dogs while I am doing this.

My experience as a professional developer in my own school district: After putting almost ten years of work into building a very successful reading and writing workshop in the 90's, I made the difficult to leave my classroom behind in 2001 and become a full-time teacher trainer for nine years. I'm glad I did it though as it was an enlightening "bird walk" during my 26-year career. I am also glad to have decided to returned to the classroom in 2010 because I am now a better teacher than ever. I'll bet some of you know teachers who left the classroom to become district leaders and now have very little credibility when talking about teaching "today's students." That's not me. My classroom's excitement about learning and writing and learning to write better is what drives me.

In truth, I've was never once "out of the classroom." When they hired me to be a district trainer of teachers, I told my new boss that I couldn't be away from students. I requested the ability to volunteer in a classroom once a week, and my amazing boss (thank you, Lynn Sawyer!) said, "Okay, as long as I get to pick the classroom." She put me into a Title I kindergarten class that first year, and once a week I taught those little ones writing. My experience had mainly been in secondary English education, but here I was generating the same excitement about writing with students who could hardly recognize their own "sight words." The next year, I was not only volunteering in several classrooms, but we were also having the other teachers at the school come in and observe me. This became my model of providing training to my K-6 schools: to allow the teachers to see me working with students before training them about standards-based writing techniques, and then to watch them and give them feedback when they tried similar techniques from our trainings. With my secondary teacher groups, we did it a little differently: instead of watching me with their students, we collaborated during pull-out days or on weekends and created lessons together, gave each other feedback, then watched each other use the lessons with one another's students. We changed a lot of teachers' practices through collaboration, trial and error, feedback, and revision of strategies. I loved my time as a teacher-trainer.

I returned to the classroom in Fall of 2010 with not only a lot of energy to be with my own students again, but also with a whole lot of new techniques to try that I'd seen created and used and refined by those teachers I had been training. I, therefore, consider myself one of the luckiest teachers in the world; I have been able to modify my own unique ideas to teach writing with the amazingly unique ideas I picked up from teachers I worked with who were discovering the beauty of teaching writing the right way.

Each summer since 2011, I have made myself available to be hired by school districts and regions outside of Northern Nevada. If you are looking to bring a fresh, outside voice to your district's teachers and teacher leaders, 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 new and/or valuable information and ideas at the participants but didn't put in place a system to help teachers actually implement the strategies. I call these types of workshops "spray and pray" or "sit 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.

Please know--in order for my trainings to be truly effective and implemented by the majority of participants--it's important to create a plan for how to make use of my workshop materials AFTER I have provided the workshop. I am available to conference call or Skype with your district's teacher-trainers or implementation specialists to develop a viable plan that maximizes implementation. This is part of the service I offer if you hire me as a trainer.

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.

My Contact Info:

Upcoming Availability
  • March 2017 -- the week of March 20
  • March 2017 -- the week of March 27
  • June 2017 -- the weeks of June 12 and 19
  • July 2017 -- the weeks of July 3, 10, 17 and 24

Quoting Recent Evaluations:
"Corbett, I really enjoyed your workshop this past weekend. I started sacred writing time on Tuesday, and my kids were ridiculously into it. So amazing!"
"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!"
"Thank you so much for your generosity! I have already started my kiddos with decorating their very boring (school provided) notebooks, and we are starting sacred writing time tomorrow. So many of them are really excited! I am too!"
"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:
  • I am available for one-, two- or three-day workshops over the summer and during my fall and spring breaks.
  • If you're hosting a local/regional conference, I am also available to provide a keynote address to your participants as well as full-day, half-day, 2-hour or 1-hour workshops and sessions.
  • I've recently switched to a flat-fee rate, which includes my travel expenses. It's difficult to travel with handouts, so there is a $75 fee added if handouts cannot be run off and ready by the hiring district or entity. I offer a 10% discount to those districts who bring me back a second time.
    • One-day training, flat fee rate: $1850
    • Two-day training, flat fee: $3500
    • Three-day training, flat fee: $4700
  • Inclusive in my fees: pre-training planning sessions (over the phone, over e-mail, or through Skype) to custom-build the training for your needs; evening sessions (during the actual training) to plan follow-up strategies with district leaders and implementation specialists.
  • I am flexible. We can tailor-make a two- or three-day training from the topics below or from the topics at my website that meets the needs of your school or district or the interests of your teachers.
  • My summer training calendar is often completely booked by February of the same year. Plan ahead and contact me early. See my dates above on the right-hand side of this page by clicking here.

Workshops I Provide:

These are my Two 2-day Workshops:
Differentiated Instruction:
The 7 Elements of a Crafted Writing Lesson
Teaching Critical Thinking, especially during pre-writing and revision:
Deepen Student Thinking with the Writing Traits
This is a two-day workshop.

Of all the subjects we teach, writing is the one that requires 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 frustrated your struggling writers while boring your average and your gifted writers with a lesson and weren't sure what to do to make it better, 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 four years of diligent work to arrive at a place where I was truly differentiating. I differentiate instruction these days without even thinking about it, but that couldn't have happened if I hadn't had a long time (and good feedback from colleagues) to slowly implement.

This workshop examines seven research-inspired lesson elements that lend themselves nicely to differentiation, and my 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.

Visit this page at Teachers Pay Teachers and download the free preview to see materials from this 1- or 2-day workshop.

This can be either a one- or two-day workshop. It can be combined with other topics listed below from my 1-day workshop list.

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 might be for you.

You know, it's your students who can think critically that'll surpass expectations on all writing 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 the six writing 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.

Visit this page at Teachers Pay Teachers and download the free preview to see materials from this 1- or 2-day workshop.


These are my 1-day and half-day Workshops:
& Writing Across the Curriculum
Sacred Writing Time
& Writer's Notebooks
Exit Tickets
across the Curriculum
I developed a vocabulary & writing routine upon returning to the classroom (in 2010) after serving my time as a district professional developer. It's one of the best things I've ever created. It was built based on my adapting some of the best vocabulary instruction I observed during my time as a professional developer for five Nevada school districts.

I require my students to "publish" four short pieces of writing each week, and these pieces of writing must not only show evidence of revision and editing, but they must each contain interesting tier-2 vocabulary words from our class reading. Every other week, my students teach one another their vocabulary words, and they evaluate one another's short writing tasks. We call this "Vocabulary Friday," and it's one of the best days in my classroom.

This workshop shares how I developed and now use my vocabulary routine and then opens up the opportunity to adapt the ideas to build stronger vocabulary and writing skills from your students.

Visit this page at Teachers Pay Teachers and download the free preview to see materials from this 1-day workshop. Visit this Pinterest Board to see some of my students' amazing writing samples they have created using vocabulary words that are new to them. My students will be thrilled if you repin these samples onto your own Pinterest classroom boards.

When I was Director of the Northern Nevada Writing Project (2003-2008), I taught both 700-level and 600-level university classes to pre-service teachers and teachers working on their Masters or PhD's. Every class I taught or co-taught began with the same routine: Sacred Writing Time. For ten or fifteen minutes, participants had time to write in their writer's notebooks about ANY topic they wished.

The act of writing is foreign to many teachers. They assign it to their students, but without having gone through the writing process themselves on occasion, they do not have the ability to teach writing well. There is a huge difference assigning and teaching writing, and my university classes aimed to help our teacher-students experience the writing process.

No question about it: sacred writing time is my own young students' favorite part of my class. It gives them an opportunity to LIKE writing. When you have students who LIKE writing, they are more willing to work harder to improve their writing.

Visit this Pinterest Board to see some of my students' amazing writer's notebook samples they wrote during SWT and decorated afterwards because they were proud of their original ideas.

Whether your state is using the Common Core Standards or not, you should know there exists a section in Common Core devoted to writing across the curriculum, which has always been a favorite topic for me to design professional development workshops around.

I can tell you from experience that the non-English teaching instructors at your school see the value in having students write about social studies, science, math, and other curriculum areas, but the idea of grading and assessing this type of writing makes them hesitate when considering the implementation of writing routines in their classrooms.

After four years of witnessing the reality of non-implementation of writing across the curriculum strategies, I designed this training. An "Exit Ticket" is a quick piece of reflective writing completed by a student after a lesson that quickly demonstrates the depth at which the student is understanding the topic or the content. They can be assessed very quickly, used as review tools, and they can be assigned so that they appeal to a variety of learners. Of all my techniques I share during WAC trainings, Exit Tickets are the one I see implemented the most.

Visit this page at Teachers Pay Teachers and download the free preview to see materials from this 1-day workshop.

Mentor Texts that Inspire
Lessons and Authentic Revision
Reading Workshops:
for assigned & free-choice books
Engaging Students in Grammar, Punctuation, and Word Study
If you check out all of our free-to-access Writing Lessons of the Month, you'll notice they all have something in common: they're based on a good idea or a good organizational structure I borrowed from a mentor text.

Here's a fact: students don't like writing hamburger paragraphs or five-paragraph essays because these are school-only formats for writing. Go ahead...find a hamburger paragraph or a five-paragraph essay published by a real author anywhere out in the world. You most likely won't.

Here's a fact: students perk up and become excited when you let them impersonate ideas, structures, and craft skills found in mentor texts by actual authors.

This workshop challenges teachers to re-think their favorite class read-alouds, novels, and poems (as well as any other published mentor text out there) as inspirations for original, exciting pieces of writing where students can explore genuine writing skills.

Click on the link in this paragraph for a free sample from my Teachers Pay Teachers store that's part of my Mentor Text workshop materials.

When I first began teaching back in 1990, I assigned four book reports a year. I didn't know any better, so I was doing to my students what my least favorite Language Arts teachers had done to me in school. I find nothing duller than a book report, and my students despised writing them.

These days, I host a Reading Workshop instead of using the traditional book report assignments of old. Every six weeks, my students create a "book project" that is presented in small groups on Reading Workshop Day. Sometimes the projects are based on books we have read as a class, but sometimes the projects are based on independent novels and non-fiction.

My students' job for Reading Workshop is to become their book's advocate. They must find something in the text that appeals to them or excites them, and they create a project that helps persuade their classmates to take interest in their book, possibly even committing to reading (or re-reading) it.

My students may focus on plot, character development, setting, theme, and/or writing style as they find something in the text worth celebrating. You can read about the way this all works at our Reading Workshop Resource Page here at this website.

If you have explored this website, you know I am strongly against the idea of solely teaching grammar and punctuation using worksheets, and that I am against teaching vocabulary by assigning low-level list memorization. These traditional techniques appeal to about 35% of your students but leave the other 65% bored and not engaged.

I taught my district's differentiated instruction courses for years, and I currently teach an online class on D.I. for our local university. In doing the research that prepped me to become a differentiated instruction practitioner, I developed some unique tricks for teaching what many consider to be the dullest of the six writing traits: conventions. This workshop shares those techniques.

In particular, we look at the following resources as we explore the research on differentiating writing instruction:

  • My Sophisticated Sentence materials
  • My Celebrating the Language materials
  • My Grouping Strategies for Differentiated Instruction
  • Group-Friendly Tier-2 Vocabulary tasks

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