Monday, May 14, 2012

Let's Write: This Week with David Harrison

Today I'm featuring a guest, poet David Harrison who has developed a new video series to help in teaching children the writing process. It sounds terrific. He shares the details below.

by David L. Harrison

When I visit classrooms I like to give students tips on how they can enjoy their own writing more and improve the results of their efforts. Over the years I’ve developed a number of these tips, all of which are based on methods that real writers really use. I’ve used the same techniques myself so I know they work. Some are tricks of the trade, some are common sense advice, but student writers benefit from all of them.

When I became Drury University’s Poet Laureate, I began to consider worthwhile projects I could do that would fit my responsibilities. I decided to create video vignettes of me doing what I’ve been doing for more than 40 years when I visit classrooms. I began by making a list of five broad categories – how to get started, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and how to rewrite. Under each of those headings I taped four presentations. For example, under Getting Started I talk about 1) finding ideas through association, 2) beginning with a single word, 3) the power of observation, and 4) reading to discover things to write about.

I kept each episode brief (five minutes) so that busy teachers can display me on a Whiteboard while I present to their students the tip for the week and then follow up with reinforcing activities. The episodes are not sequential so a teacher can choose any topic that fits the current unit being taught.

I’m finishing an accompanying Teacher’s Guide with Dr. Laurie Edmondson, Interim Director for Drury’s School of Education and Child Development. Each of the 20 Writing Tips featured in the DVDs is expanded for the teacher in the guide book. Laurie is providing classroom activities that teachers can use to complete the lesson. We also present what research says about each category, a home connection to help gain family support, and how each lesson ties into the Common Core State Standards.

In addition to the 20 video sessions and the Teacher’s Guide, the kit includes a set of 20 Student Writing Journals and three of my trade books – one each of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction – that we use as examples to help students see exactly what I’m talking about on the videos. What began in my mind two years ago as a set of taped writing tips for students has evolved into this hands-on, interactive, creative writing program that can bring me into classrooms anywhere. The full kit, which is designed for use in grades 3-5 (but could be used in later grades if desired) will be available by late summer or early fall and will be priced at $499. The publisher is Phoenix Learning Resources. Sales will be handled through Stourbridge Distributors. You can contact them at

Further, Laurie is going to teach an online course for graduate credit based on LET’S WRITE THIS WEEK WITH DAVID HARRISON. Those who are interested in signing up for the course or learning more about it can contact Laurie directly at .


David Harrison said...

Sylvia, many thanks for helping me introduce my new project. It's always a pleasure to appear on your wonderful site! I'm in Honesdale doing a poetry workshop with Eileen Spinelli and Rebecca Dotlich. Great fun! David

Sylvia Vardell said...

You're so welcome, David. Congratulations on this new project. It sounds like a terrific teaching resource. Have a wonderful time in Honesdale-- hi to Rebecca and Eileen, too!

Ellen L. Ramsey said...

Sounds like a splendid resource for teachers! Wish I were in Honesdale too.

Janet Wong said...

David: teachers are very lucky to have you hard at work on these new projects! (And I hope that some of these new teacher fans will buy your fabulous e-book GOOSE LAKE to project from their computer screens to share with their whole classrooms.)