With the beginning of the school year right the corner, it is time to start thinking about which lessons will be most valuable for our students. Starting the year on the right note and with lessons that will help your students thrive throughout the entire year is one way to set-up your students (and you) for a successful school year. These lessons are the ones that they will use throughout the entire school year and even after they leave your classroom. One recommendation I have for planning your first few weeks is to think about and list your teaching pet peeves. If there is something that grinds your teacher gears, teach that. For example, the word “a lot” is one of mine. I cringe every single time I see a student write alot. To alleviate this issue, toward the beginning of the year I tell my students that a lot is two words. Then I write the word “a” on one side of the board and the word “lot” on the other side of the board. Then I have all of my students stand up and put their ...
Analyzing theme is an essential part of reading literature in the classroom. It not only allows the story to be understood more by the students, but the students can also relate the story to their own lives and other literature they have read. Here are four ways in which students can begin to analyze the theme of the literature they read: 1. Look for recurring images. Students can easily analyze theme through the repeated images and other motifs throughout the novel. Once students identify the theme, the recurring images can also be used to explain what this theme might mean. If there are a lot of images representing sadness, like cloudy days or gray colors, the reader can extrapolate more of what this means to the overall story. The repeating images could add up to the smaller themes, and then the student can link them back to the overall theme analysis. 2. Ask questions (and make a note of them) Questions are sure to come up when trying to analyze theme, and while reading ...
Writing is a cyclical process. And even though we have our students turn in final draft versions of their papers, any middle school or high school English teacher can tell you that these final drafts are quite far from final. As a high school English teacher, I can tell you that students improve their writing when they go back and revise their work. In an earlier post , I wrote about how I conduct essay revisions in my classroom. Here is a list of 6 reasons why English teachers (and even teachers of other content areas) should allow students to revise final drafts even after they’ve been graded and entered into the grade book. 1. Provides Students with Another Opportunity to Learn As educators, we are lifelong learners, and this is just the philosophy we should pass on to our students. Even after an assignment is completed, turned in, and graded, there is still room to learn and grow as a writer. By allowing students to revise their graded essays, students focus on and correct ...
Writing is a skill your students will use for the rest of their lives. When students write daily in the classroom, it will help them master this craft and prepare them for life beyond the classroom. Here are six more reasons why students should write every day: 1. Writing will improve. The more students write, the better their writing will be. Just like the old saying, “practice makes perfect,” the art of writing will become better as the students practice writing. Often, they may not realize that they need to practice their writing, but writing daily in the classroom will prove this wrong. To help students expand their writing knowledge, try my Descriptive Writing Mini-Unit . 2. Writing relieves stress. Having a practice that eases the students’ minds, where they write for a short period in class, without having to think about their other concerns, will relieve stress if only for a few minutes. Writing can be therapeutic, so writing for a few minutes a day will calm a student’...
When students have opportunities to revise their work and learn from their mistakes, growth happens. Providing students with the chance to edit their final essays after you grade them is one of the most beneficial learning opportunities for students. However, giving students this extra chance to improve their writing also comes at a cost. It takes more time -time in which we don’t necessarily have. And even though giving students an extra opportunity to revise their already-turned-in-and-graded essays takes more time on our part, it is one of the best ways for students to actively work on improving their writing. In my classroom, I alternate how much essay revisions are weighted and worth. I do this so that students always try their best on their final draft rather than waiting for me to be their copy editor. For their first essay at the beginning of the year, I allow students to revise their essay using my marks on the rubric for up-to full credit. Allowing students to review and r...
Comic books may seem like an odd addition to an English class curriculum, but there can be a lot of benefits to starting the school year off with this type of textual analysis. Introducing students to the basic concepts of plot, setting, character, and theme can be more comfortable in a format that they feel is more relaxed and entertaining than the traditional canon. Recently, there has been a greater emphasis on superheroes in the media which creates an area of interest for middle schoolers and high schoolers. Even the most popular superheroes (Wonder Woman, Black Panther, Batman, and more!) have very different settings and therefore very different character developments. There can be a lot of content and concepts for students to unpack in these characterizations, especially if you allow them to compare the book to the movie adaptations and have open discussions about the stories. Questions to ask your students: What is the setting? Why might the setting have changed between comic ...
Now that the 2017-2018 school year has come to a close, I am spending some time reflecting on my practice as an educator. While there were some lows of the school year and things I will try to change up and improve upon, there were also many highs to celebrate as well. Here are some of my highlights from the past school year. Growth Mindset Escape Room My seniors had so much fun working together to complete a growth mindset escape room. This activity forces my seniors to cooperate, have patience, and utilize their problem-solving skills. Short Story Analysis Poster At the beginning of the year, my sophomores worked together to analyze a short story and create a cooperative theme poster. Students worked in small groups to analyze and explain how certain literary elements and devices worked together to help form the theme of the story. Students then presented their posters to the class. I always like to start presentations as informally and casually as possible at the beginnin...
In an earlier post, I discussed the benefits of providing students with work days during class time for large projects. And while work days are tremendously beneficial for students, the lack of a formal lesson plan and structure can sometimes lead to classroom management problems. Whenever I designate a class period as a work day, I follow these simple guidelines to make sure that my work days are as productive as they can be. 1. Set clear guidelines.  Students thrive on structure and order. When students know what is expected of them, they tend to perform better because they know what is and what is not acceptable. At the beginning of the workday, I set out clear guidelines and expectations. I also emphasize the importance of using the time wisely. Typically, I allow students to listen to music during work days. However, I inform them that texting and social media is off limits. 2. Make sure students have enough work to complete. One of the best recipes for success when...
With so much content to teach our students, it is all too easy to overplan, overwhelm, and over assign work and projects. Toward the end of every grading term, semester, and school year, it always seems as if we did not get to everything we had hoped. In all honesty, there is just too much to teach our students in the time in which we have during the year, and we can’t get to everything. While making a valiant effort to get to everything and assign all of the essays and projects and reviews and grammar work and vocabulary and novels, we may be harming our students by not focusing enough on one topic or by not providing them with enough time to reach and demonstrate understanding. Sometimes, one of the most beneficial things to do as a teacher is to take a step back and give our students time. As adults, it always feels as if we never have enough time in our days. The kids need to be fed, the house needs to be cleaned, the lessons need to be planned, and somewhere in all that mi...