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...
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...
I can hear it now. One student defiantly raises a hand as I introduce our Latin vocabulary. Before I can even begin explaining the benefits, the student asks, “Why are we learning about this in English class?” Next time you have a student asking why they need to study roots and vocabulary from Greek and Latin, have this list on hand. 1. Greek and Latin are foundational You will be hard-pressed to find vocabulary without influence from Greek or Latin. The truth is, these “ancient” languages heavily influence our modern languages (particularly the Romantic ones). In fact, students who hope to learn other languages, especially Romantic ones, would do well to focus on building vocabulary in English rooted in Latin. Romance languages include French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish, and Latin influences about 80% of the vocabulary in all of these languages. That’s 800 million people whose language is built on Latin alone. 2. Greek and Latin are building blocks English is not consid...
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...
Animal Farm is such an “easy” read, but it’s also important and packed with themes and civics-related topics to discuss. If you’re looking for new ideas to spice up your Animal Farm lessons, read on. I’m excited to share these 10 activities with you. 1. Group Research Project Instead of having a bunch of independent work for students to complete, get them into groups to share the load of research. This is perfect for switching up the monotony of worksheets and independent work. You can also use this as a differentiated option if you have students who may benefit from tackling research as a group rather than on their own. My group research project includes a final project of 5 paragraph essay with MLA formatting and a PowerPoint presentation. It’s an engaging option to set the historical context before reading Animal Farm OR you can use it as an extension activity after the novel. 2. Vocabulary Study Having a grasp on the vocabulary is an important place to start with novel studies. Bu...