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...
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...
Shakespeare has been gone for 400 years and yet we still insist on keeping him in our classroom. Mention Shakespeare, and I can guarantee teens immediately put up a front. Breaking through that initial abrasiveness can sometimes become a hurdle - but pointing out Shakespeare’s relevancy is a great start to a study. Below are some quick thoughts you might consider sharing with students, as well as several resources you can use while teaching Shakespeare. Shakespeare influenced our language. You can find so many references in our English language directly from Shakespeare’s work. If your students have ever been tongue-tied or hoodwinked, they’re quoting Shakespeare. There is a definitive record of Shakespeare being identified as the sole user or the first user of many common words and phrases. Your students might enjoy focusing on phrases they do recognize instead of worrying about what seems confusing. Shakespeare's themes are timeless. If you cut the language that feels outdated to...
Creative writing is a skill that can be expanded and applied to many other areas of the secondary ELA curriculum, like analyzing text or creating out-of-the-box arguments. The best exercises are those that are engaging and stick with students for the rest of their learning experiences. Teaching creative writing in the classroom can oftentimes feel like a daunting task, so it is important to incorporate fun and engaging writing activities into the classroom. Making writing fun and memorable is easy with these five creative exercises: The 5 Senses:  The five senses are an essential part of any descriptive writing. Take your students outside or to an area with high foot traffic. Instruct them to choose a person or object to write about, using all five senses. Allow them to read their short descriptions out loud to one another and to take note of which senses their peers used. One resource to help your students learn how to write more descriptively is my Descriptive Writi...
Giving your students a short writing assignment at the beginning of the year is a terrific way to not only access your students’ abilities but also to ease summer-weary teens back into the demands of high school. But before you face a roomful of eyerolls by assigning yet another essay on what everyone did over summer break, here are a few unique writing exercises from Write Screenplays That Sell: The Ackerman Way , by Hal Ackerman. Although the majority of the exercises found in Ackerman’s book are specific to screenwriting, the most interesting ones are quite general. Not only are creative writing exercises a fun way to mix up your students’ assignments but they will also provide you with a unique insight into your students’ imaginations, their likes, their dislikes, and their writing instincts. 1. Verb Replacement In this exercise, Ackerman tells his readers to take the last scene they wrote (or for the English classroom, the last paragraph or so), find the first ten ver...