August 29, 2016

Join the Writing Lesson of the Month Network

Here's the latest news from Corbett (and Dena) Harrison. If you have not yet joined the Writing Lesson of the Month Network, Do so! Invaluable, classroom tested mentor text inspired lessons are just a few clicks away. ~ Dennis 

SEPTEMBER'S WRITING LESSON:  I had a lot of interest in the lesson of the month when I summarized it last month, so I worked hard to post it a few days early this month.  As school picture day looms or is still fresh in their memories, you might want to capitalize on making a great story using this month's The Worst Picture Day Ever lesson and writing challenge! 
Other goings-on at the website to take note of this September:
  1. For the past two years we've celebrated September as "Writer's Notebook Month" here at Always Write. We are doing it again this year; after all, this is the time of year you want to teach your students to LOVE their notebooks and to look forward to visiting them daily during Sacred Writing Time.  If you successfully do this, we invite you to enter our Writer's Notebook Metaphor Contest--now in its third year!  Four student-made metaphors will be chosen as "victorious," and they will be used to inspire a new poem about writer's notebook that I will write and post.  Look at the past two years' examples using the link!  We'd love to have original metaphors from really young writers as well as the older ones this year.  Those metaphors will happen if you're rolling out your writer's notebook routine well!
  2. September's Writer's Notebook Bingo Card has one of our favorite "center-square" lessons for helping students learn to create interesting pages for their writer's notebooks.  You can preview/use the September Bingo Card (and its center-square lesson) here.  Click on the link in the center of the September card to access the lesson called "Alpha-Genres."
  3. September 1-15's Sacred Writing Time Slides are available for preview as well.  The preview slides actually started back on August 15, but I know some of your school years have just started.  Try out our Sacred Writing Time Slides with your student writers; there is a reason why the resource is our #1 best-seller!
  4. Remember, all past Lessons of the Month are archived at the Always Write website.  Click here to see this month's as well as the past forty-eight months' worth.   You can also preview the mentor texts that will be used to inspire the rest of the lessons for 2016 that are coming!

I hope you're all having a great start to the year.  It's so important during the first month or two of instruction to build a positive atmosphere for writers of all ability levels.  All of our lessons at Always Write are designed to help you do that. 
--Corbett (and Dena) Harrison -- Always Write and WritingFix 
Visit Writing Lesson of the Month Network at:

To control which emails you receive on Writing Lesson of the Month Network, click here

August 21, 2016

Back to School with Great Materials from Corbett Harrison

Help Support WritingFix and Always Write.

Corbett Harrison:

Dear teachers, writers, and friends,
I've been scrambling to get our two new products from this summer posted at Teachers Pay Teachers in time for their big sale on Monday.  As with all our new products each summer, we like to offer them at a bargain price before they go full price.  Here's an update on new products that will be 10% off on Monday at our Teachers Pay Teachers Store!
  • Our Monday Pun-Day materials are completely ready to go, including access to this accompanying resource page we've posted at Always Write; the website contains links to some of our most enjoyable (and completely complimentary!) "word play" assignments.  On Monday, they'll be available for 10% off.
  • Our new Sophisticated Sentence materials are--sadly--not quite there yet, but they will be ready before August is over.  If you want a sneak peak of this product, you can still access these two sets of materials from Always Write that we shared in Texas in July: Session 1 & Session 2.  If you were planning to purchase this new resource, email me (, and I will send you the first three lessons early on this week so you can get started, and I'll make sure you get emailed when the full product is first posted with its preliminary discount price at TPT.   I apologize for the delay, but my University asked me to teach a new online course this September, and it has bogged me down a bit!  Thanks for understanding.
Also on sale this Monday at TPT for 10% off:
We sell products like the ones above to pay the fees it takes to keep Always Write and WritingFix online and clear of advertisements. I'd like to point out that we also feature some pretty great complimentary resources at Teachers Pay Teachers too.  Here are four of my personal favorites:
Enjoy your weekend!  If you're a bargain hunter, don't miss out on Monday's sale at TPT!
--Corbett (& Dena) Harrison -- Always Write

Visit Writing Lesson of the Month Network at:

June 9, 2016

Corbett Harrison: UW-Stout Online Class: Teaching and Assessing Writing with the 6-Traits

An Online Writing Traits Class We Recommend!

Looking for a summer learning experience that improves your skills as a writing teacher?  I recommend the following online course, which friend of WritingFix and Always Write--Dennis O'Connor--has helped coordinate this class for many years.  You simply can't maintain a functioning workshop environment for writing if students don't own the vocabulary of writing instruction, and the 6 Traits have been the academic language of choice we've used in my classroom for years!
University of Wisconsin-Stout
Enroll Today!
Teaching and Assessing Writing with the 6-Traits
Online Course 3 semester hours graduate credit
Instructor: Renee Williams
June 27 - August 19, 2016 (100% Online)
EDUC 653 Middle School Through Adult 6-Traits Writing Instruction
EDUC 654 PK Through Elementary 6-Traits Writing Instruction
Learn more:

8 weeks of professional development that will transform your teaching. In depth discussion of 6-traits, writers workshop, and the practical application ideas you can put to work immediately.

Our Students Say...
  • "This course has reignited the fire for teaching that I once had. "
  • "Renee is so positive; she opens eyes to different schools of thought and doesn't just give you answers but encourages you to discover the answers on your own. Additionally, she provides an abundance of information that helps build you up as a teacher when it pertains to any question or topic posed, again intriguing us to continue our growth. "
  • "This course, while helping me improve my writing instruction, also will help me improve my instruction overall. Moreover, it helped me process issues outside of school and critically solve those."
  • "I have two bachelor degrees under my belt and countless grad classes. This class was the best, most engaging, most educational, most useful, best feedback....just wonderful. The instructor gave feedback that I will take and keep with me for years to come. You simply couldn't have found a better teacher. I feel honored to have taken this class. It was truly amazing."
  • "I think the best thing I could have done for future students was to take this class. Writing traits has helped me refresh my teaching skills."
  • "We had a truly international classroom. Only about half us were teaching in the states. Several were teaching in Department of Defense Schools overseas. We were a good mix of novice and veteran teachers."

June 2, 2016

Online Class: Teaching and Assessing Writing with the 6-Traits

teaching and assessing writing with the 6 traits university of wisconsin stout

Register Now: Online Courses Start:  

Summer: June 27 - August 19, 2016
Fall: September 26 - November 28, 2016

EDUC 653 Middle School through Adult 6-Traits Writing Instruction

EDUC 654 PK Through Elementary 6-Traits Writing Instruction

Do you want to engage your students and build a great writing program before the end of the school year? This class provides a plethora of practical methods and inspirational ideas.  

Renee Williams
Instructor:Renee Williams
Telephone: 971-4504572474
Office appointment calls available via Skype: renwill11 in Dubai, U.A.E.

Course Description

Concepts, instructional methods and assessment strategies for improving writing instruction, middle school through post-secondary. Self-assessment strategies, application of 6-traits, technology and software applications, and writing across the curriculum.

This class will focus on how to apply the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory's 6+1 Traits™ model to the process of teaching and evaluating writing.

The course activities will investigate the vocabulary, concepts, and application of writing traits to classroom instruction and student assessment. Take a few moments to review the class objectives.
Each module is structured around an Introduction, Readings, Lecture, Activities, an Activity Checklist, and Discussion Forum.

You will work individually and as part of a community to practice and refine your assessment skills. You will score a variety of demonstration papers, discuss your rationale with online colleagues, discover a variety of classroom strategies for teaching the traits, and share your own teaching methods.

While online education is highly flexible and designed to meet your schedule, you will need to set and meet deadlines as part of your weekly assignments and collaborative work. Additionally, your colleagues will depend on you for timely feedback as you work together to deepen and clarify essential concepts.

E-Textbook Included

Spandel, Vicki. (2012). Creating Writers: 6 Traits, Process, Workshop, and      Literature (6th Edition). Pearson. ISBN: 978-0132944106

Additional reading materials will be included as e-mail mini lectures or references on the WWW.

When you log in to the course, you will access the e-textbook to read online from your tablet, laptop or desktop. The e-textbook software is compatible with an iPad, Kindle Fire or fully Internet-capable device. It is not compatible with a Kindle Reader.

You can highlight info and organize info in the e-book (i.e. adding a note stating something like "reference in my discussion posting") and print only what you want for use as a study guide. You may share notes and highlighting with peers in the class. Printing of the entire textbook is allowed for your personal professional use.

University Email

Checking your university email daily is recommended.

Mobile Phone Access to Your Email
You may configure your mobile device to receive your university email automatically. Directions are provided at:

Click on the appropriate link for directions that match your device.
If you need assistance, please call 715-232-5000.


  1. Articulate the 6-Traits theory of writing and its relevance with the components of writing workshop, writing process, and authentic literature in the PK-4 classroom.
  2. Analyze the relationship between reading and writing and how each can be enhanced using the 6 traits.
  3. Apply a variety of prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing techniques used in the writing process.
  4. Apply the 6-traits rubrics to analytically score writing samples and describe reasoning behind scoring decisions based on the point scale rubrics of the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (NWREL) and the Oregon Public Education Network (O.P.E.N.).
  5. Score online demonstration papers to practice analytical scoring for each of the 6 traits.
  6. Differentiate 6-traits instruction based on a wide range of academic diversity including English language learners and special needs students.
  7. Redesign current language arts lessons and integrate the 6-traits approach with developmentally appropriate learning activities.
  8. Integrate use of technology, easy access to online research resources, and digital writing and editing tools.
  9. Design an action plan to increase the frequency of opportunities for students to write in response to math, science, and social studies.
  10. Write reflectively about the themes, topics, and issues involved in teaching with the 6 traits.
By the end of the course participants will be able to efficiently assess student writing using the 6+1 Traits™ model. Participants will have shared effective methods for teaching each trait. Finally, participants will publish an original student sample, complete with 6-traits scores and rationales.

Instructor-Student Communication

The primary methods for communicating with students with be via...
  • Course News Updates, instructions, advice and tips will be posted in the Course News. Remember to check it each time you login to your course. Please log in at least four times a week.
  • Discussion Check the Discussion Board posts and responses regularly and remember that your level of Discussion Board participation and your discussion summary will be factored into your grade.
  • Your UW-Stout Email Account
    Check the university email at least every other day. Daily is better. No course communication will be sent to your home/work personal email accounts.
As we complete each activity, you are encouraged to share your discoveries and successes with other participants and collaborate during team problem-solving. Participants may share drafts of works-in-progress for peer feedback and discuss ideas and suggestions before submitting the final project.

Each participant brings unique needs and resources to the group. Our sharing will provide a broader base of experience as we discover the solutions to each others design needs and challenges.
Since our diverse groups are usually in many different time zones feel free to use the following aids to determine what time it is in your classmates' countries and/or cities. This will help when setting up real-time chats with your learning partner during collaborative projects.
The World Clock - Time Zones


Your final grade will be based on:
40% - Satisfactory completion of module activities
20% - Final Project
20% - Online Discussion (postings to Discussion Forum)
20% - Self-reflection
Your projects will be evaluated using standards listed on the module rubrics or checklists.
A -- Exceeds the standard
B -- Proficient demonstration of the standard
I -- Incomplete demonstration of the standard (Work must be resubmitted.)
Discussion Board Etiquette (Please Read!)
Evaluation of your Discussion Forum participation is cumulative and subjective based on notes that the facilitator records each week. Always feel free to e-mail your facilitator for help in upgrading your participation in the Discussion Forum.
Exemplary indicates you participated above the minimum level in both quantity and clarity of communication in your Discussion Forum postings.
Proficient indicates you met the minimum requirement. Discussion postings are timely, relevant and include some feedback about the readings and responds to others' comments in the discussions
Partially Proficient Discussion postings are too few in number, or too trivial to fully meet the requirement. For example, most of the postings are "I think so too" or "I disagree", but lack any argument that adds to the discussion or includes excessive quoting from the material without any real supporting evidence of how the topic might integrate with their classroom teaching.
Incomplete indicates you consistently contributed below the minimum two messages per week or contributions were merely perfunctory ("I agree with so and so.") or unclear.
Discussion Rubric

Reflections will be evaluated for clarity and your understanding of the readings and activities.
Any time that you want to ask about your progress, send an email directly to your facilitator.


Grading Scale








F73 or below
To maintain Full Academic Standing, a cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required for graduate students.

Course Outline

  1. Getting Started With Traits Introductions, Community, The 6-Traits Theory, Historical Foundations, The Writing Process, Coaching Students Trait by Trait
  2. Trait: Voice
    Finding the Courage to Speak from the Heart, Teaching students to be assessors, Composing and revision in the writing process, Teaching strategies, Voice and informational writing, Books for teaching Voice, Six point writing guide
  3. Trait: Ideas and Content
    Generating Great Ideas, Ideas defined, Lessons and strategies for Ideas, Practice papers for Ideas, Ideas sample rubrics, Three level writing guide, Timeline/revision checklist for Ideas, Ideas and informational writing, Prewriting activities, Ideas as a foundation for meaning, Books for teaching Ideas
  4. Trait: Organization
    Techniques and Tips for Structuring Student Writing, Organization defined, Timeline/checklist for Organization, Teaching of Organization, Books for teaching Organization, Practice papers for Organization, Focused lessons for Organization, Three level writing guide, Six point writing guide
  5. Trait: Word Choice
    Developing Descriptive Vocabulary to 'Show' What You Know, Word choice defined, Timeline/checklist for Word Choice, Teaching Word Choice, Books for Teaching Word Choice, Six point writing guide, Practice papers for Word Choice, Focused lessons for Word Choice, Informational writing guide
  6. Trait: Sentence Fluency
    Developing Rhythm, Sentence Fluency defined, Teaching strategies, Teaching Sentence Fluency, Books for Teaching Sentence Fluency, Practice papers for Sentence Fluency, Focused lessons for Sentence Fluency
  7. Trait: Conventions
    Conventions - Editing, Not Correcting / Assessments & Grading, Conventions defined, Timeline/checklist for Conventions, Books for teaching Conventions, Teaching Conventions, Scoring for Conventions, Practice papers for Conventions, Focused lessons for Conventions, Six-trait rubric
  8. Practical Applications of the 6-Traits in Writing Across the Curriculum
    Use of technology for collaborative writing and editing in the classroom, Writers workshops in the disciplines and across the curriculum, Writing and the discipline areas, Understanding the role of audience, Modes of writing and the content areas
  9. The Assessment Roundtable  Bringing It All Together
    Assessing middle school, high school and community college writers, Communicating with students, Expanding the vision of 6-traits and the writing process in the classroom

Participation and Collaboration

Participants will:
  • Exchange posts with their colleagues and participate in discussions using a Discussion Forum
  • Review and discuss online and text based reading materials
  • Use online examples to practice score each trait
  • Score demonstration papers using the rubric and discuss assessment rationale
  • Develop and score an original student sample for all traits.
You will be able to customize activities to your specific teaching responsibilities and needs.

No more that 10% of a discussion posting or paper may be directly quoted.
Tips for documenting direct quotes in a discussion posting or paper:

See: "short quotations" and "long quotations" and "summary or paraphrase."

Late Work

Regular, timely feedback to classmates via the Discussion Board makes this class vital, and prompt submission of assignments for assessment allows the instructor to give you the guidance you deserve to receive. Due dates for each module are published on the course calendar at the start of the class. Work turned in by midnight on the due date will be considered on time and will receive full credit.

Life can bring emergencies which may prevent timely submission of assignments. If you have an emergency which interferes with your coursework contact the instructor as soon as possible. Emergencies are defined as serious events which are not planned. Emergencies cannot be written on the calendar in advance. Examples of emergencies are heart attacks, car accidents, serious health crises of the student or in the student's immediate family. Examples of non-emergencies are family weddings, vacations, or any other event which can be planned around. If the family calendar looks busy at a particular time, plan to work ahead on your coursework.

Excused Makeup Work - If the late submission has been requested and approved in advance of the due date, there will be no deduction of points from the grade. An email to the instructor requesting an extension of the due date must be sent. The instructor will inform you if late submission will be allowed.

Unless previously excused by the instructor, work that is submitted after the close of a module will be penalized 10%. In other words, you need to be on time to earn 100%. You will only one week to make up late work. Late work will not be accepted after one week unless previously approved by the instructor.

Please contact the instructor if you have any questions about the late policy.


If you believe the course requirements create a conflict with your observance of religious holidays, please notify the instructor within the first two weeks of the semester so that appropriate alternative options can be arranged.


UW-Stout strives for an inclusive learning environment. If you anticipate or experience any barriers related to the format or requirements of this course please contact the instructor to discuss ways to ensure full access. If you determine that additional disability-related accommodations are necessary please contact the Disability Services office for assistance 715-232-2995 or contact the staff via email at this website:

Academic Dishonesty

"Students are responsible for the honest completion and representation of their work, for the appropriate citation of sources, and for respect of others' academic endeavors. Students who violate these standards must be confronted and must accept the consequences of their actions."
Definitions of academic dishonesty as provided by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators include:
  • Cheating — The use or attempted use of unauthorized materials, information, or study aids in any academic exercise.
  • Plagiarism — The use of others' ideas and words without a clear acknowledgement of the source.
  • Fabrication — The intentional and unauthorized falsification or invention of any information or citation in any academic exercise.
  • Assisting — The facilitation or assistance in academic dishonesty.
UW-Stout also considers academic dishonesty to include forgery of academic documents, or intentionally impeding or damaging the academic work of others.

Academic misconduct in the University of Wisconsin System is defined by UWS Chapter 14. "Student Academic Misconduct / Disciplinary Procedures - UWS," Ch. 14.Â

Technology Requirements and Assistance

Complete the system checkup on this website  – – by clicking on the link that says:Check your system.

For help with your university email account, password, and login process:

Madison Help Desk If you have any questions about these preferences, please call the Madison Help Desk at one of the numbers listed below and indicate that you are a UW-Stout student needing help with Learn@UW-Stout. Help is available 7 days a week.
  • 1-888-435-7589 select option 3

  • 1-608-264-4357 select option 3

Problems with Email

Ask5000 Help Desk
Call 715-232-5000 for technical assistance such as forgotten passwords, email, storage, and problems logging in to Access Stout to view tuition billing or final grades.

Library Services

To access UW - Stout's Library Services visit In addition to traditional and online services, the library maintains many helpful videos on searching and use of the online research tools.

Help them find their voices!

REGISTER without cost to secure your seat: ACT NOW!

January 19, 2016

Tired of Being a Red Ink Slave to Corrections?

Editing, Not Correcting

How do you respond to the statement: Correcting isn't teaching!

Think about it: all correcting does is make you a better proofreader. Students more often than not ignore your hard work. You as a teacher feel obligated to take out the red pen, while in your heart you know this just isn't working. Don't you see the same errors over and over again? How many times can you check, highlight, underline and explain in the margins that a lot is two words? What else can you do? Isn't every English teacher obliged to correct the work of their students? Isn't that the expectation of parents and administration?

What if you shift the burden of correcting to the student where it belongs? You can do this by integrating editing skills into the writing process from day one. If you establish simple routines by editing every day you can chip a way at the persistent problems without bleeding red ink after school and every weekend.

Many teachers use a daily oral language approach. Let's make it a daily integrated editing exploration approach and stop correcting for our students!
  • Encourage students to re-read their work at every stage of the writing process.
  • Be sure students read their own work aloud.
  • Introduce and use the basic proofreading symbols
  • Start each class with a brief editing sponge or transitional activity.
  • Periodically assemble a list of Editing Essentials to tally the collective skills of the group
  • Collect and organize mentor sentences for modeling usage and grammar concepts
  • Throughout the year, have your students choose e-portfolio samples that document student progress

Edit Anonymous Authentic Samples

Practice editing skills with a variety of anonymous sample sentences or paragraphs in need of specific corrections. Toss the work sheets and find samples from the real world.
  • Use student papers that display the most persistent problems.
  • Find samples in online student publications like KMSoul .
  • Use the NWREL 6-Traits database of student work.
Better yet, use the Notable Sentences Blog a treasure chest of well organized examples. Self proclaimed "sentence stalker" Loren Wolter maintains this remarkable resource. Her blog is a collaboratively build collection of sample sentences organized to address editing essentials like grammar, syntax, figurative language and many other aspects of writing. These model sentences provide powerful teaching examples and pave the way for meaningful, traits inspired, writing process oriented grammar explorations.

Remember: It is far easier to work on a sample than to edit your own work. Provide process practice before you move to self-editing.

Fresh Eyes = Edit Better

When it does come time for your students to edit their important pieces, be sure the writing has time to cool.
  • Waiting a few days allows a writer to edit with fresh eyes.
  • Try reading the text backwards to discover invisible errors like repeated articles.
  • Zoom word processed text or switch to a larger font to see the words in a different way.

Focus on One Type of Error at a Time

Here's a professional proofreader's trick: focus on a single specific issue to keep things manageable. If you try to edit for capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and grammar at the same time you overwhelm your weaker editors, causing them to shut down. For younger students, this may mean starting with just end punctuation or capitalization. For older students, the focus may be the rules of dialog or the use of quotation marks.

Integrate Editing into the Writing Process

Students who can revise and edit their own work are on the way to becoming independent writers. Editing helps writers understand their own voice. I'm not advocating a close spell check and punctuation drill early in the process. Too much focus on correctness can stunt fluency. Instead encourage re-reading and reading aloud as part of the writing/editing process. This habit will provide opportunities for students to experiment with usage as they go.

Model by Thinking Out Loud

Often we expect students to 'hear' or 'see' grammatical problems by applying a mental filter based on their previous exposure to language. Not all students have this filter. This is especially true for English language learners or students with learning disabilities. This is why it is so important to model the editing process using the think aloud method.

Put up an sample of your own weak first draft writing on an overhead projector or computer screen. Talk your way through a quick editing process. Broadcast your inner monologue as you tear into the typical problems you want to address. Modeling your own process shows students how important writing is to you and creates a safer learning atmosphere.

Where Will I Find the Time?

If you find yourself saying, I don't have time for one more thing in my curriculum, you'll love Jeff Anderson's insightful article Express Lane Editing Techniques. His field tested methods for modeling editing and re-reading throughout the writing process are practical and effective. Anderson suggests we approach grammar as.."something to be explored, not just corrected".

Anderson is also the author of the books: Mechanically Inclined and Everyday Editing. His books provide a road map for integrating powerful editing practices into the writing process. This isn't dry academic writing. Anderson comes from the classroom and has a voice and outlook are seasoned by the realities we all face everyday.
I started thinking of how we taught editing at our school. It looked like a series of half-baked attempts to solve a problem that we were not sure how to fix. If I asked my sixth-grade class to correct a sentence riddled with errors, did that show them editing is a powerful tool? When I looked at their faces, I had to admit the answer was a re-sounding, "No!"

Set Parent Expectations

Parents expect red ink. You will be pressured to teach the good old-fashioned way. Still, the good old-fashioned way (correcting) just doesn't work. A thoughtful letter home at the beginning of the year is a good idea. Explain your editing approach. Help parents understand that you value independent correctness. Be consistent and proactive. Periodically, send an editing paragraph home and ask parents to work together with their children on the edit. Consider inviting parents who are strong editors to work in your classroom, and train them to teach editing.

Reality Check on Editing

Finally, accept the fact that not everyone will be a strong editor. A writer with a talent for unique ideas and a powerful voice may be very weak in the conventions of writing. Consider Wilson Rawls, author of Where the Red Fern Grows. Rawls was so ashamed of his spelling, punctuation, and grammar that he burned all his manuscripts and almost gave up writing. Yet who can deny the lyrical genius of his prose?

Writing is too often judged by correctness alone. Do good manners insure fine character? Does polished chrome and a fine paint job create a competitive race car? By balancing conventions (correctness) with the other traits of wiring; ideas, voice, organization, word choice, and sentence fluency, you help students find their strengths, while working on their weaknesses.
In the end, by teaching instead of correcting, you arm all of your students with some independent editing skills. You help them on the road to becoming independent writer.
You've done the job. Relax, take the weekend off!

Additional Editing Resources:

Teaching and Assessing Writing with the Six Traits (UW-Stout Online Class)
Conventions Homepage (WritingFix)
6-Traits Resources Blog: Jeff Anderson The Write Guy (a guided tour of Anderson's online resources.)
Loren Wolter Notable Sentences...For Imitation and Creation

Resources from Jeff Anderson:

The Write Guy (Jeff Anderson's Website)
Mechanically Inclined (Google Book Preview)
Mechanically Inclined Building Grammar, Usage, and Style into Writer's Workshop
Making editing useful for young Adolescents
Grammar intertwined throughout the writing process: An "inch wide and a mile deep"
Zooming In and Zooming Out:Putting Grammar in Context into Context (PDF)