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 is 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...
If I could choose one skill that every one of my students achieves by the time they leave my classroom, it would be how to have a personal conversation with every piece of literature they read. That’s why I focus so much on teaching text annotation to my classes. It’s an essential close reading strategy that provides innumerable benefits to a young person’s life (both in school and out). As educators, you and I both know that annotating a text is more than simply circling random words and underlining what may or may not be topic sentences. Annotation helps students track their thinking as they read in order to reflect on the evolution of their understanding. When applied effectively, the practice of annotation encourages rich interactions between reader and text. As with all things worth doing, teaching text annotation to your students requires a differentiated approach, consistent practice, and follow-through. You’ll always have a few “squeaky wheels” who insist there’s no point in ma...