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© Dena Harrison at http://denaharrison.com.
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Be an Author! Publish Something You're Proud of this Year at WritingFix!
I truly believe if you invest the time to teach writing authentically and well, then state tests will take care of themselves. Writing skills create strong, independent thinkers.

Since 2005, I have been working with a website that is used by teachers internationally. The website is called WritingFix, and it's designed for teachers and their students. The website is actually sponsored by the organization I do extra work for up at our local university: The Northern Nevada Writing Project. Even though it's a locally-made site, it is seen by teachers and students all over the world.

The website features several of my original writing lessons, which you can access by clicking here. Lots of Nevada teachers post their lessons at this site, and I use ideas I've gotten from WritingFix lessons not written by me as well as the lessons I wrote.

When I get a really good student sample from one of WritingFix's lessons or prompts, I send it in to the site and ask them if they want to publish it as part of the lesson that inspired the writing. Dozens of times in the past few years, my students have become featured authors at the site, and their writing is seen by hundreds (perhaps thousands) of other students who continue to use the lessons.

So here's my challenge to my current group of students: Can you join that elite group of my students from the past who got published at WritingFix? All you have to do is ask me, and I can get you started on the process. Sometimes we'll do a WritingFix lesson as a whole-class, and if you really create a cool final draft, we can send just yours to the website to be considered. But perhaps you'll find a lesson or a prompt at WritingFix that we're not doing as a whole class but that you like and think you could write something interesting for. I can help you get published that way too!

Either way, it's a goal I set for my students who want to be recognized as strong writers. Only strong writers are published at WritingFix.

Of course, I'll start the ball rolling because I lead by example! On the right hand side of the page below, you will find a final draft of a paper I wrote in college. I can't expect you to put your writing out there for the whole world to look at if I don't do it myself, right? Read my "published" writing here, learn something new, and come and tell me about it. I'd like to know what you think of my college essay! Does it make you think about how I behave when I am your teacher any differently?

On the left-hand side of the rest of this page, you will find some glimpses of my past students who were published at WritingFix. If you click on their pictures, you will be connected to the actual page at WritingFix where their whole piece of writing is housed. Enjoy!

Published Writing by Former Students:
An Essay I Wrote in College:

When Nicole was in seventh grade, she wrote this poem as a class assignment. Click on the image above to be taken to the page at WritingFix where you can read the entire sample.

Jordan wrote this modern tall tale when he was an eighth grader in my class. Click on the image to be taken to the page at WritingFix where you can read this entire writing sample.

Tyson found this prompt at WritingFix and wrote a story independently; we got it published too! Click on the image to be taken to the page at WritingFix where you can read his entire story.

Sarah, a seventh grader at the time, wrote this interesting setting description, inspired by a prompt at WritingFix. Click on the image to be taken to the page at WritingFix where you can read her entire sample.

Dena Robinson (my maiden name)
C&I 634: Classroom Management

DEVIL OR DOLL: THE BART J. STORY

One day while working at Hunter Lake Elementary School, I noticed an interesting phenomenon. Bart J., a child who attends our morning Latch Key program, exhibited two very different types of behavior. One minute, Bart could be behaving like a total doll, sharing cards and other toys with his peers, and keeping his voice at a low roar. The next minute, Bart could be observed hitting his peers, grabbing toys and screaming. In fact, his entire countenance would change, a mischievous grin would appear where the sweet smile had once been, and a menacing cackle, which could be compared to Snidely Whiplash's laugh, could be heard. We tried numerous techniques to curb Bart's inappropriate behavior, but to no avail. We tried removing him from the situation (a.k.a. time out), taking away the cards he used for his favorite card games, and separating him from his friends. None of these techniques worked, in fact his improper behavior increased. We were beginning to make connections between this child and his namesake Bart Simpson, from the cartoon The Simpsons, (after all, this Bart’s sister's name was Maggie too!) and found ourselves tempted to label him a discipline problem.

Fortunately for Bart, I began reading Karen Pryor's book, Don't Shoot the Dog, and decided to try out some of her suggestions for positive reinforcement, instead of the different types of punishment we were using before. I remember thinking, "Why not give these techniques that Karen Pryor is advocating a chance? Why not put a little bit of her theory into practice? All of the negative types of reinforcement and punishment have failed thus far!"

The next day at work, I informed my co-workers of my plan and they wholeheartedly approved. That same day, I began implementing positive reinforcement techniques and encouragement when Bart exhibited desirable behaviors, such as sharing, talking (instead of yelling), and discussing problems instead of i mmediately hitting someone. I thought I would begin by implementing Karen Pryor's Method #Seven and #Eight. I observed Bart that day, and decided that one of his prime motivators for acting out was attention. By acting out, he wished to get attention not only from the staff, but from his friends as well. I wanted to curb his undesirable behavior by showing him that there were other positive ways of getting attention.

As soon as Bart arrived that day, I began observing his behavior, and when I saw him displaying any good behavior, would immediately reinforce him. I would place my hand on his shoulder, smile at him and say, for example, "I'm sure that Andrew appreciated when you gave him the cards when he asked,” or “I'm sure that Josh was glad that you didn't punch him in the arm

just then." When Bart was playing cards quietly with his friends, I would walk over and tell him that because he was playing so well with his friends today; he could be in charge of picking out the morning snack, a coveted job by all children in the program. I positively reinforced the behavior that I wished him to exhibit in the mornings, and rewarded this good behavior with something that gave him a little more responsibility. I also showed Bart that he could receive more positive attention from me and his peers when he showed others respect and did not yell.

I have now been positively reinforcing Bart's "good behavior" for seven days. My co-workers and I are amazed at the change in Bart's behavior. The "bad behavior" which used to make our mornings so difficult has virtually disappeared! I wasn't even sure if I was reinforcing Bart's behavior correctly, but a definite change for the better has occurred. Of course, there could be numerous other factors that could be the cause, such as the change in the moon cycle, or a favorable alignment of the stars, but the change in Bart is apparent to all. It will be interesting to see if this "good behavior" will continue to exist after next week or next month, or if Bart will lapse back into the "mischievous little devil" routine. We know that Bart has the potential to be a doll all the time, and now that we have seen him act this way for seven days, we will accept no less! Thanks to the implementation of positive reinforcement, our mornings at Latch Key have become a much more pleasant and encouraging place to be, both for the students and the teachers. By carrying out Methods #Seven and #Eight, I was able to shape the occurrences of Bart's good behavior so that the undesirable behavior faded away. I also realized that Bart primarily wanted attention from his peers and the staff and I showed him that not only could he receive positive attention when he was being good, but he also received more attention in the form of encouragement and responsibility.

Is this one of my students exploring this page? If so, I'd love to hear your critique of the essay I've published here; I might even give you a sticker for your writer's notebook if you do this. Don't worry, I can take it, especially if you see something I did in this essay that might have been better.

 


WritingFix is the best website ever. And not just because they have several of my lessons posted! This site covers every writing topic out there!



If you're not a member of the NNWP's Writing Lesson of the Month Ning, change that fact right now! Click here and create a profile to begin receiving the monthly lessons!



The NNWP's Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Guide is a great teaching resource. You can order your own copy by visiting the NNWP's Publications Page.



Creating Writers through 6-Trait Writing
by Vicki Spandel. A really great teaching resource!



The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins. My three classroom copies see no dust as they're passed from reader to reader.



My husband also keeps a webpage of his lessons and his professional development resources. Click here to visit his site.



Click here to see some of my past students who are "famous" because they were published at the WritingFix website.

 

 

 

 

hometrait materialsmy student ningexpress yourself!no busy work!don't plagiarize!write to an author!be an author!note passers!my family and pets

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