One of my favorite units to teach is rhetorical analysis because I love incorporating robust, relevant, and timely texts into my classroom, especially when timely speeches perfectly coincide with classical literature we are reading. When teaching rhetorical analysis, one of the most important things to keep in mind is not what the author or speaker says, but how the author or speaker says it and why it is so effective. Once you get beyond the main ideas and supporting details and really ask your students to look at, consider, analyze, and evaluate the effectiveness of what the author or speaker does, then you are genuinely analyzing a text for its rhetorical merit. Join my email list! Subscribe to receive updates from The Daring English Teacher. Thank you for subscribing! You will soon receive updates, freebies, and teaching ideas. There was an error submitting your subscription. Please try again. Email Address ...
Socratic seminars are great learning tools because they allow students to voice their own questions and opinions about the subject being discussed. But with the size of classrooms constantly increasing, they can also be problematic. It becomes problematic when a few students take over the conversation. Without a teacher regulating the discussion, some students can feel left out and unable to communicate their thoughts. But that defeats the purpose of a Socratic seminar. The benefit of a Socratic seminar is that it is entirely regulated by the students. You get to sit and listen, maybe offering a comment now and then, but otherwise, the time entirely revolves around the students having an open discussion about the subject matter. Join my email list! Subscribe to receive updates from The Daring English Teacher. Thank you for subscribing! You will soon receive updates, freebies, and teaching ideas. There was an error submitting your subscr...
School is relatively short when you think about the way we slice the day into different periods. Kids get maybe an hour with you a day, and that’s it. And once you factor in the first and last three minutes of class, we just lose more time. However, even though it feels as if we are strapped for time, spending some of this time in the classroom reading will only be beneficial for your students, even if it is a short while. They go home, do the homework you assigned, and then forget about English as they work on the rest of their tasks and take care of their outside responsibilities. But that might be the best reason to have them read during class. Here are four reasons students should read during class 1. They might not do it on their own time. Students these days are so overloaded with extra-curricular activities and responsibilities outside of school that they may not find the time to do the reading you assign for the next class period. By providing them with some time in c...
Oftentimes, students will not edit their own work, as it does not seem necessary to them. What they may not realize is the importance of self-editing, especially when it means their writing will improve, and maybe even more important to them, their grades will improve. Teaching them to edit their own writing is one of the most important skills you can teach them. Here are seven ways to teach them this important skill: 1. Give students a list of commonly mistaken mechanics. Sometimes students won’t edit a paper because they do not know what is wrong with it, and do not know where to start. Actually giving them the tools to see what they may have done wrong will give them the chance to correct it, with the added assurance that everyone makes mistakes like this too. Join my email list! Subscribe to receive updates from The Daring English Teacher.         Please sign me up Subscribe   You will not receive spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.  Powered by Conver...
A great way to incorporate a growth mindset into the middle school and high school ELA classroom is by introducing it through literature. As we read and teach novels in our classroom, discussing how characters persevere to overcome substantial obstacles can have more of an impact on our students’ lives than we imagine. It is important to have your students read books that tell stories of growing up. High schoolers are especially focused on trying to find themselves and who they are. By reading texts that tell the stories of characters who have a growth mindset, students will feel like perhaps they are not that different either. Your students finding who they are, and feeling like they belong is a valuable lesson easily learned through these kinds of novels. Here are 9 different novels, both classics and young adult fiction, with a significant growth mindset that your students will love to read: 1. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston In this novel, the reader wa...
One of the most challenging things for a (new) teacher is planning and pacing the curriculum. After all, there are so many different standards to teach, practice, and assess, and so little time. Whether you teach middle school ELA or high school English at a school where you have a strict pacing guide or if you teach at a school where you have complete freedom in your planning, this is tough. I’ve taught in both situations, and each one has its positives and negatives. Regardless of how your school is structured, every teacher in every single classroom needs to plan lessons, activities, and assessments, and figure out how much time to spend on each one. Getting the timing of it down takes a few years, and pacing and planning is something that changes with every school year. To help out teachers, I am sharing my secondary ELA pacing and planning guide with you. This pacing guide comes as a PDF download that also includes a link to an editable Google Doc. If you want to make ...
Halloween can be a lot of fun in the high school English classroom, and just because it’s Halloween doesn’t mean that we have to ditch the curriculum in favor of candy-apples. Teaching on Halloween can be fun, content-oriented, and rigorous with a little planning. Besides, the fall air and the excitement of the beginning of the holiday season usually energizes the students, so why not capture that excitement? Here are eight ways to incorporate the spooky holiday into the classroom with creative writing: 1. Write a cliffhanger. Have your students write something that leaves the reader wanting more. Will their character survive the precarious position they have found themselves in? Who knows! This is what will make it so much fun for them to write. 2. Research on the holiday. Admittedly, this is probably not as exciting as the rest of the options on the list, but it is still good practice. You could even turn it into more of an opinion piece as to why they like or dislike the ...
A simple Google search will show you some of the best book-to-movie adaptations in history. But what can really be gained in the classroom by, for example, reading To Kill a Mockingbird and then watching Gregory Peck portray Atticus Finch flawlessly on the big screen? Other than a free day to not do anything in class, I argue, not much. What can be more beneficial for your students is showing the terrible book to movie adaptations? Here are three bad book-to-movie adaptations that can be good conversation starters in the classroom: 1. Jurassic Park Jurassic Park written by Michael Crichton; directed by Steven Spielberg. With the new film in the series coming out this summer starring Chris Pratt, the original movie and book combo might be great to share with your class. Between the novel and the film, many characterizations are changed and some characters are even taken out. This is a slightly more graphic book and movie than what may typically be read in the classroom, as ther...
Tone might be one of the hardest concepts to explain to students. Some understand tone immediately. These are not the students to worry about. Our job as teachers is to help those who do not innately understand how to analyze literature. Working out how to understand tone in the classroom can help students understand it better when reading at home. Working it out at school can allow them to feel more confident while reading and analyzing on their own. Here are three ways to work on analyzing tone in the classroom: 1. Use a word list Words that express a happy connotation or a sad connotation are simple enough for the students to recognize. Once they can identify these kinds of words, discussing more complex tones like sarcasm, bitterness, or even apathy will be easier to tackle in the classroom. Use this list of keywords to ensure that the students understand the importance of word choice and sentence structure. Providing them with a list of essential words that they can look fo...
Shakespeare might be a crowd favorite for us English buffs, but the average high school student seems to be less than enthusiastic about the concept. Let’s be honest though, if they knew just how many inappropriate jokes the Bard included in his plays, they would find it just as entertaining as we do. (And as a side note, yes. Yes I am the English teacher who likes to point out the naughty nuances throughout his plays). So how do we convey to our students the genius of Shakespeare without taking time out of Romeo and Juliet to explain the nurse’s comment about “Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit” (I.iii.45)? I have compiled five ways to modernize the old Bard’s words so the students can enjoy the work on their own. 1. Act it out. This is the age-old tool utilized in high school classrooms across the nation. And why? Because it works. But this means doing more than just reading Hamlet out loud together. Get the kids up and moving, have them make big dramatic gesture...
While the importance of classic novels is undisputed, sometimes it is good to switch up the literature you teach and include more than the canon in your classroom. In addition to traditional classic literature, it's crucial for teachers to include contemporary, high-interest novels in the classroom. By doing so, you will provide your class with new ideas and thought processes are still found in the older classics, but may be more attainable for the modern reader through these young adult pieces of fiction. Merely being in high school involves finding one’s identity and finding where you belong so these young adult texts will focus on these themes as valuable lessons for your students to learn. Here are six contemporary young adult novels to teach and some classic novels you can read with them: 1. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak This book is one of my favorites. It takes a different look at the horrors of World War II. The story is told from Death's point-of-view, and this...
When your students come back from summer break, they are going to have to adjust to working all day again rather than relaxing by the pool. This might make your task of getting them involved in class a little more difficult. But with books that are engaging and serve as foundations for future novels in class, they will quickly adapt to your classroom. These six books, or the types of books they represent, will make your students excited for the year to come and get them back into the groove of reading and writing for class. 1. The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and The Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan. Books that are familiar to your students are a great place to begin. When books are so infused into our popular culture, it is easier for students to grasp reading them at the beginning of the year and not feel too overwhelmed. Books that are filled with adventure will engage your students enough that they will want to continue reading, even if they are not huge readers. There is also...
Creative writing is an essential aspect of teaching English that teachers should incorporate into the classroom. It is useful for students to know that writing is not always based solely on analysis or explanation, but can be used for expression as well. Here are a few ways in which to include creative writing in your lessons and why this is such a valuable lesson: 1. Take a few minutes every day in class to have your students free write. Allowing students to express themselves through free writing will give them the confidence to begin writing in more creative ways. Have the students write as creatively as they want to get the creative energy flowing. Free writing is a great tool to get your students practicing their writing. Free writing will also teach students how to be confident in their thoughts. Since students won’t spend a long time free-writing, they will trust their instincts and feel proud of what they write at the moment. Also, with the experience of free writing, th...
As much as English teachers love novels, I am beginning to see a decline in how many novels students read each year in the classroom. This post is in no way an argument against the novel. I always look forward to starting and teaching a novel unit to my students. However, to really do a novel justice, it takes time, energy, and a lot of love. Since novels tend to eat up a lot of instructional time, I typically begin each year with a short story unit . Short stories are valuable to middle school and high school English teachers, as well as students. When students come back to the classroom after ten weeks of summer break, there is an adjustment period that separates the carefree days of summer and the rigorous demands of school. Rather than having students dive right into a novel like Great Expectations or Wuthering Heights, start them off with a short story unit to re-engage their brains. Here are some other reasons short stories are great segues from summer to school. 1. Keep stu...