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...
You’ve come to the end of another novel or short story. Now what? If you’re looking to spice up your review activities with something fresh, unique, or just plain different than your average paper, read on! Here are ten ways to review a novel or short story. 1. Socratic Seminars Why write when you can discuss? If you’re unfamiliar with a Socratic Seminar , it is a method to understand information by creating a dialogue in class. Students should find deeper understanding and discuss complex ideas. Works that are “heavy” or require your students to really think about issues are perfect for Socratic Seminars. Socratic Seminar for ANY text! 2. Create a Game You can either have students create their own game with various templates they find online, or you can create a game that students will play in order to review. Either way, it’s a fun excuse to host a game day in your classroom and breaks up the monotony of review, papers, and tests. I really like having students create their own games,...
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...
Taking on the task of teaching The Odyssey is a massive undertaking. One might even say it’s an epic undertaking. Although a popular Greek tale with tons of films and visual renditions, getting through the text can look overwhelming to students. That’s why I love keeping a list of interactive and engaging activities handy to help break up the monotony of reading through a long text and help students keep track of important details. 1. Character Analysis Activities There are a multitude of characters to track and understand can become a long list that is hard to track. Give students a character analysis activity to help visualize relationships, keep track of important characters, and study later. I have a Character Analysis Interactive Notebook activity ( this one is digital), and a Character Graphic Organizer (each character has 2 organizers). Top it off with an analysis essay that you can find here .  2. Comic Strip  A fun way to unleash artistic creativity, have students create co...
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 not the most popular activity in my classroom, but I believe teaching close reading is a vital skill for my students to feel comfortable and confident in their ability to closely read, understand, and analyze a text. If you’re looking to bring your students to the next level in reading comprehension and analysis, read on for tips and tricks. What is close reading? First, it’s important to know that close reading is not a summary of the main points and it’s not a personal response. It’s actually more in-depth than that. When you close read, you should be focused on analysis and interpretation. Students should pick apart the work. This is the time to uncover layers, make inferences, and look for specific textual evidence. It’s more than a reader response. It is understanding what the author is doing. Why were these words chosen? Why described in this way? Why is this interesting (or not)? Notice that, while it is important that students acknowledge the need for tapping into prio...