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© Dena Harrison at http://denaharrison.com.
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You've Found my Teaching Website: Write in the Middle
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.

A Big Welcome to my Students, Parents, and Colleagues!

Students: Access my Edmodo site by clicking here.

I maintain this little website for my students, their parents, and my fellow teachers out there. If you're one of my middle-schoolers or my students' parents, I welcome you; please...look around, and you'll learn a little more about your crazy teacher while discovering many of the lessons we'll be doing this year in class. I'll also share some of my teaching philosophy, so you can figure out why I'm teaching you the way I am.

If you are a fellow teacher who borrows any of my ideas, I welcome you as well. A few years back, my husband and I became so discouraged with the mediocre writing lessons that came with our district's textbooks, we began offering workshops for teachers who wanted something better for their learners. We crafted lesson-design workshops for writing, and we focused on the six writing traits and principles of differentiated instruction. Teachers who attended these workshops were challenged to create lessons that they felt would make a difference. The best of those lessons became part of the Northern Nevada Writing Project's amazing resource website: WritingFix.com

At WritingFix, I have almost a dozen lessons posted. I creeated these lessons when my husband and I co-taught those workshops for teachers. In the past few years, WritingFix has admittedly become a bit too big to easily navigate. Here at my website, I provide easy access to my lessons at WritingFix, as well as to some of the lessons created by my Nevada colleagues that I feel are amazing lessons.


If you surround your students with authentic writing tasks, your students will surround you with their writing. I want to be "write" in the middle of that kind of classroom! Do you?

Although my husband and I don't teach those lesson-building workshops anymore, we are both still creating new lessons all the time. I have a number of lessons and resources posted at this site that you will not find at WritingFix.

So welcome. Look around. If you borrow/share a resource from me, all I ask is that you be sure to cite my materials properly. If you come up with an adaptation to any of my posted ideas, I hope you'll share back with me.

I truly believe when good teachers share best ideas with other teachers online, we slowly eliminate the need for mediocre text books. I hope this website of mine inspires you to post something of your own that you're proud of.

This school year, it's all about your Writer's Notebooks

Last year, I began toying with Writer's Notebooks as a new tool for my Language Arts classroom. After some amazing responses from my eighth graders last year, I have decided to make this classroom tool one of the most important focuses with my incoming seventh graders. At my school, I keep my same students for two years; this new class will be the first group that will maintain writer's notebooks for two straight years.

Already, the majority of them are incredibly excited. A writer's notebook allows them to play with ideas they are genuinely interested in during pre-writing, and I don't think my new students have really ever felt they've had this much freedom with writing before. I am feeling genuine enthusiasm as we work our way through a few guided, introductory lessons.

What's really helping are two things: 1) a thoughtful, introductory guided notebook lesson that will set them up with many future topics to explore in their notebooks, and 2) this set of Writer's Notebook Bingo Cards my husband and I created this summer. Both during road-trips this summer and while walking our three dogs daily, we brainstormed interesting suggestions that we believed would help students (of all learning styles) begin to maintain the type of writer's notebook that Ralph Fletcher talks about in A Writer's Notebook: Unlocking the Writer in You, and that Aimee Buckner talks about in Notebook Know-How.

My thoughtful, introductory lesson came from the brain of my husband, Corbett Harrison. His Alpha-Genres lesson (which is posted at his website) really helped my students become excited about not only things they can write this year but also the fact they can be very visual as they create pages in their notebooks. My students especially liked analyzing (and critiquing!) my husband's teacher-model from his own notebook. My husband has been keeping his own writer's notebook for over two years now. You can access quite a few of his notebook pages at both WritingFix's Writer's Notebook Resource Page and his Pre-Writing Page at his own website.

Our set of Writer's Notebook Bingo Cards turned out really well, andd Corbett and I are really happy about that. We ended up creating 9 different cards--one for each month of the traditional school year. Each month's Bingo Card features twenty-four prompt suggestions; these prompts were purposely designed to do three things: 1) guide students to pre-write for the three genres found in Common Core State Standards, 2) appeal to a variety of learning styles, and 3) promote writing across the curriculum. Instead of a "free space" that would be found on a normal Bingo Card, Corbett designed a monthly guided lesson that all students would do together early on in the month; the Alpha-Genres lesson is the center square on the September Bingo Card.

Both Corbett and I are requiring our students to write something in their notebooks daily; when we have a writer's workshop session, students will look back through their notebooks to find topics they can shape into rough drafts. Ultimately, we want our writers to learn to find their own topics to "notebook about," based on discussions in class, observations around school, and themes in the books they are indepedently reading. Until they become those type of "topic seekers," the Bingo Cards will serve them nicely. I have so many students eagerly completing "five-in-a-row" and "four corners" Bingos for the promise of a simple sticker.

Corbett and I happily share our September Notebook Bingo Card at no cost to our fellow teachers. We are selling the whole set of nine cards as a fund-raiser to stock our classroom libraries with some new young adult fiction. If you are interested in purchasing the whole set of these cards, please visit this page at Corbett's website.

Introducing Our First Writer's Notebook Bingo Card!

 


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.

 

 

 

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