Getting to the end of a novel is exciting. I love when all of our ideas and discussions come together. I feel like we can have “meaty” conversations and the students see there was a method to my madness. However, if you’re tired of passing out an end-of-novel exam or essays, consider one of those activities. End of Novel Activities Socratic Seminar Facilitating a Socratic Seminar in the classroom is a great way to discuss, review, and analyze literature. Students partake in discussions and voice their own questions and opinions. Socratic Seminars can be used for any novel. You can accommodate by breaking your class up into smaller group sizes, so if you have a large class or vastly differening abilities, you can create better opportunities for students to have open discussions. This Socratic Seminar resource is great for teachers who are looking to assess a student’s understanding of literary analysis. Comic Strip Analysis A comic strip analysis activity for the end of a novel is not ...
Even though most secondary ELA students have a plethora of English classes to choose from, at some point or another they probably are reading “classic” literature. And while I love that students can choose to take courses such as Contemporary English or Creative Writing, I still want them to see the power and timelessness of those classic works. Check out some of these tips for teaching these classics to modern readers. 1. Make it fast and friendly We live in a high-speed world. Sometimes I am more concerned with students getting the “gist” of a work rather than reading the entirety of a novel. No matter what I do, some students are just not going to find Victorian-era literature tantalizing. Instead, we might read passages and discuss connotations, or try to mimic writing style, or I’ll have them search for examples that make the novel fit into its genre. Think about what you want students to get out of the experience of reading the novel, play, or collection, and decide if it would b...
Grammar is one of those “you’ll use it in the real world” skills that, unfortunately, can be difficult to implement in the classroom. Especially if you are hitting on it as a stand-alone unit and not throughout the year. Here are five suggestions to help students improve their grammar. 1. Use real-life examples I have found humor to be the best example, which is why I love looking up “Grammar Fails” with my students. It is a great way to solidify grammar rules. You might also have students look for Grammar Fails throughout the year. They can bring it in for extra credit, and you can build a display in your room of student-found samples. 2. Daily practice I’ve never understood cramming grammar as its own unit. That’s a lot of rules for students to make sense of, and students who don’t already have a good grasp of grammar will struggle. If you want to see improvement, grammar should be practiced daily. Even if you dedicate 2-3 days a week to include grammar practice, you are helping your...
Romeo and Juliet is one of those classic pieces of literature I think everyone has read. Even students who haven’t read the Shakespeare play have probably heard of the story or will relate to the plot as it has been retold in various films and literature. If you need some fresh ideas before you start this unit, read on.  1. Relatable Bell Ringers If you’re going to focus on a Shakespeare play, you must go all in. Immersing students into a unit from start to finish is such a perfect way to help students understand a topic in-depth. Start off each class with these Shakespeare Bell Ringers . Each one includes a famous Shakespearean quote and a quick writing prompt. Students will explore various writing styles based on the quote. 2. Character Focus Help your students identify and organize characters with these graphic organizers . This resource has two sets for almost every character in the play. Students will identify characters as round or flat, static or dynamic, and other basic qualiti...
Now more than ever, it is essential that students understand the importance of digital citizenship. It’s part of being career-ready. It’s part of utilizing tools like the internet effectively for education. And it’s part of understanding the boundaries of recreational use. What is digital citizenship ? Being a good digital citizen means understanding the responsibilities associated with technology, particularly the internet, but also how it all applies to computers and devices in general. What does it cover ? I think our first thought is cyber safety. But digital citizenship is so much more than that. It’s also how students use the internet to find help for school. It’s how they interact when searching for a job or emailing professionally. It’s what they post to social media. It’s knowing when it is appropriate to use technology (digital wellness). And it’s knowing how to show empathy when behaving online.  Why is it important? We are absolutely in a world where access to technology is...
Knowing how to research is an important skill for our students, but it can seem overwhelming and tedious when students first see a research assignment. When it comes to teaching students how to research and how to write a research paper, it is definitely a process. Teaching research paper writing takes time. Check out some of my favorite tips for teaching research in secondary ELA.  1. Teach well-thought-out research questions. This is one of the first skills to focus on because it sets the tone for the whole project. Students either need to be given the research questions, or they should have some sort of teacher-check to make sure they are keeping to the topic. Questions that are too broad will leave them sifting through too much information, and questions that are too narrow will make it hard for them to find sources and do their research. You can assist students by walking them through a short process of evaluating their topic and completing some preliminary research.  2. Teach the...
  You probably won’t get very far in teaching without hearing about a plethora of sticky note activities. It might even seem overwhelming because you can use sticky notes for just about anything. What are the best practices for using sticky notes, especially when you’re teaching older students? Read on to see my suggestions. 1. Use them conscientiously There are two points to consider - how to get ahold of them, and what to do with them when you’re done. Buy in bulk for the best bang for your buck. But if you are tight in the supply budget and it’s part of your school culture to provide supply lists to students, consider having students contribute to a class stock of sticky notes or have them bring their own supply. The other thing to consider is how to dispose of sticky notes. There’s a myth that sticky notes can’t be recycled. While some types of sticky notes are harder to recycle (like those with fluorescent dyes), and not all recycling centers take “mixed paper”, I recommend consid...