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 ...
Classic literature is classic for a reason. There are themes that resonate across generations and timeless characters. The trouble is, students hear those classic titles and freeze up at the prospect of reading something “so old”. Instead of fighting them on it, I have paired modern novels to some of those classic works to help bridge that gap. Read on to see my suggestions for modern pairings to Lord of the Flies by William Golding.  Classic Focus Lord of the Flies tells the story of a group of young boys who become deserted on an island. Although they begin with creating rules and organization with no adult help, they eventually collapse into brutality.  When my students begin their study of this novel, I tend to focus on a few major themes that I can mirror in my modern selections. Civilization vs. lawlessness is one of the biggest themes of the novel. It drives most of the instincts of the boys on the island. Loss of innocence is another biggie, as well as the dangers of mob menta...
Speak is one of those powerful reads that, unfortunately, many students relate to. If not from personal experiences mirroring the main character, the reality of dealing with trauma and the fallout of PTSD, depression, and other ostracizing events. It becomes a deeply personal and empathetic read, so I make an effort to include it in my reading list throughout the year. Read on for activities and ideas to try in your own classroom. 1. Bookmark Analysis No one thinks about bookmarks. Make use of the usual strips of paper or bits of wrapper that are typically used and give students analysis bookmarks instead. Students will be able to participate in engaging analysis components as they read the novel. It’s fewer worksheets to print out, requires students to jot notes, and is easily accessible right in the book as they read. This bookmark idea is versatile, you can create whatever style and questions or requirements you’d like. If you’re not interested in starting from scratch, I have a nov...
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...
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...
It’s the not-so-favorite time of year - state testing. And while students may agonize and teachers may groan at the thought of another year of standardized testing in the midst of whatever this new normal is, it’s up to us to prepare our students the best we can. Here are six ideas to help you prep for the test prep season. 1. Get organized This applies to you as well as your students. Think about your game plan. What are you going to accomplish? “Prep for state testing” is too broad a statement. Think about specific tasks, specific knowledge your students need. Think about how you’ll organize your students and how much time you will need. Don’t add more stress to the situation by going in at the last minute with packets you found on the internet but didn’t have time to vet. Be methodical in what you plan. If you’ve waited until the final hour, focus on one or two main test prep areas: writing with evidence or focusing on listening skills. 2. Try something fun Students don’t need endl...
Close reading is an integral and essential component of the common core standards. Close reading asks students to not only read a text for basic comprehension and understanding, but to really read the text, dig deeply into the text, and make connections with the text. This can be a difficult and daunting task for a generation that grew up bubbling a scantron and moving on to the next task. 1. Don't rush them. When my students closely read a text, I make sure to not rush them. We as educators have to keep in mind that this is their first exposure to the text. We can't take for granted that they will understand every word, metaphor, and rhetorical device in the text. Close reading is a process that takes time, patience, and multiple readings. There is no such thing as reading a sentence, a paragraph, or a composition too many times. To begin the close reading process, I like to teach my students how to annotate text. My Annotation Bookmarks will help keep students...