With a new school year upon us, it’s time to re-energize your teaching practices with some new routines and resources. Here are ten teaching resources and strategies to implement in your classroom this year. Bell Ringers I use the first five to ten minutes of every class period for a do-now, or bell-ringer, activity. The students come into my room, see what the do-now is, and begin working. This provides me with valuable time to take and enter attendance, answer student questions, and check on individual students. I use this free bell-ringer recording sheet and stamp every student’s page every day. This provides me with a chance to have some facetime with every student, even if just for a moment. 1. Sentence Combining Bell-Ringers These bell-ringers are great because they help students improve their writing. I project a slide up on the board, and the students read the cluster of individual sentences and combine them into one grammatically correct, complex sentence. To help sho...
Let's face it, not every one of our students is going to love English class as much as we did. All our students have different learning styles and interests, and what we pick to teach will not always pique their interest. However, choosing a wide variety of works may be a way to ensure that all your students will get to read at least one work they enjoy. Here are a few book recommendations that hit different categories while still staying in the realm of literature. This post contains affiliate links. 1. Dracula by Bram Stoker You probably weren't expecting the first recommendation to be a classic 19th-century novel, but Dracula is jammed pack with action, suspense, and mystery that will be sure to entice any reader. The novel is like a roller coaster starting with ever-increasing mystery until it reaches the top with the horror revealing the famous Count Dracula only to race back down into the mystery. Students will have no choice but to continue reading to find out w...
It’s that time of the year. Time to pack up your flip-flops, set your alarms once again, and bid a fond farewell to our old friend “summer vacation.” It’s no secret students (and teachers) can have a difficult time transitioning back to a school mindset. However, there is no better way to reactivate those dormant literary analysis skills than with some poems to ring in the new school year! Because poems are shorter than most literary texts or excerpts while still packed full of meaning, reading them in class or for a small homework assignment can help your students dip a figurative toe into the waters of analysis. Here are 10 poems sure to pique the interest of even the most reluctant back-to-schooler: Summer Shower by Emily Dickinson Ah, summer is always gone too soon! Indulge and hold onto it a little longer as Dickinson uses her whimsical imagery to transport you into the whirlwind of delight that comes with dancing through the summer rain. Talk with your students about the s...
It's that time of year again. It's time to head back to the classroom and begin planning for another year with new students. Throughout the years, I've tested several different back-to-school strategies and styles. Through years of experience, I've learned that I have the most success in the classroom when I spend dedicated time with my students at the beginning of the year building relationships, establishing trust, reviewing classroom policies and procedures, and teaching key concepts. From there, I like to teach and review content areas that I focus on throughout the year. Here are some of my favorite go-to resources for the beginning of the school year. The First Days Back-to-School Stations This stations activity is brand new to my classroom this year, and I am so excited to use it. I am especially excited about the tech accounts aspect of it because getting 150+ new students signed up for several different educational technology accounts can be qui...
As a high school English teacher, there are so many different skills and concepts I want to teach my students. Not only do I want them to be well-versed in literature so they can pick up on allusions in pop culture, but I also want them to be able to write across a variety of mediums proficiently.I want them to improve their vocabulary and have a commanding understanding of how language works so that they can effectively communicate in the world. And while I want them to be able to do all of this, I also understand that the vast majority of my students are not going to be literature or English majors in college. And with that said, when my students leave my classroom, I want to be able to provide them with enough guidance and instruction so that they will succeed in the world after they leave high school. As a high school English teacher, I have the opportunity to provide my students with real-world writing instruction. In my classroom, that comes in the form of teaching email e...
There's a lot to be said about technology, cell phones in particular, in the classroom. On the one hand, students can use them as a learning tool -especially in schools that are not 1:1. On the other hand, cell phones are highly distracting and can impede learning if student use is not strictly enforced. I've taught at two different schools, and each had a different policy. My first school had a site-wide cell phone policy. Students were not to use their phones in class. If they did, teachers could confiscate the phone and turn it into the office. Students or parents would then pick up the device after school. It worked, somewhat. You see, it wasn't followed and enforced uniformly on campus. Some teachers allowed student cell phone use (not just for academic purposes), and other teachers did not. Since every single teacher wasn't on board, the policy wasn't effective. Furthermore, students knew that if they put up enough of a fight, nothing would happen. For...
One of the most important things you can teach your students is good literary analysis skills. Your students will be critically reading texts in high school, college, graduate school, and in their careers. It's necessary to cultivate analytical ability as early as possible. Here are six ways to enhance the literary analysis curriculum for all ages. Think Aloud and Model Inquiry The process of literary analysis is fraught with difficulty, even for the most seasoned critic. How can we expect students to "get" literary analysis without seeing it in action? Hint: it's tough.  As such, a reliable way to gain an understanding of the fluid process of close reading and literary analysis is to model it for your students. To do this, analyze a relevant text in front of the class to show your process. It may seem uncomfortable, but don't prepare yourself for this exercise beyond reading the text you're analyzing- you want to give your students an authentic expe...
When I stepped into my very own classroom for the first time as a brand new teacher, Instagram didn’t exist. I didn’t even know about the online wealth of information available to me, a struggling first-year teacher. When I eventually created my own personal Instagram account in the middle of 2012, I didn’t even really know how to use the platform. I posted ten pictures of my infant son on the profile all within 5 minutes, but of course, not before applying filters to the photos. Then, I didn’t open up the app for almost a year later. I didn’t understand Instagram, and to be completely honest, I didn’t think the platform would be a success. Why would people only want to see pictures? What about the text? (Remember, the captions used to be more limiting.) But then again, I also remember preferring MySpace to Facebook and thinking that Facebook was the inferior platform. However, that is an entirely different discussion. I digress. Unlike myself more than a decade ago, today’s ne...
Teaching can be an incredibly isolating profession. On some days, it is entirely possible for teachers to make it through an entire working day without any adult interaction. And while sometimes it sounds lovely to go into our classrooms, teach, spend our thirty minutes of lunch in our room catching up or grading papers, and then leave at the end of the school day, having fellow teacher friends can genuinely transform your teaching experience. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have a group of amazing, strong women whom I am happy to call my teacher besties. And ever since I changed districts and schools several years ago, this incredible group has made my teaching career so much more fulfilling. Here is a list of 5 reasons why you should have teacher besties at your school. Teacher besties understand each other Teacher besties will understand one another. They won’t judge you if you don’t want to stay out late on a Friday night. They also won’t even dare ask you to han...
Congratulations! You've landed your first teaching job. This is such an exciting time, and you should celebrate this occasion. However, if you are anything like me, the very second that happy moment ends and you realize that you are going to have your own classroom with your own students to teach, the panic might set in. So, you've landed your first job, now what? Your first year won't be easy and carefree, but it shouldn't be the most stressful year of your entire life. Here are seven tips for first-year teachers. 1. Seek out a mentor As soon as you sign your contract, ask if your school has mentor teachers on campus. Your mentor could be a department chair, or a grade-level lead, or someone who is in charge of making new teachers feel welcomed. Not every school has a mentorship program in place, so if you are a newly hired first-year teacher at a school that doesn't have mentors, find one. You'll probably be introduced to more veteran teachers toward t...
While the vast majority of schools have school libraries, classroom libraries play an essential role. There are many ways to build up your classroom library including shopping at garage sales, library sales, and second-hand stores. Additionally, you can also score some free books by asking friends to donate to your classroom. If you are looking for ways to build your library, you can read my post here. Also, I recently wrote a post about how I organize my library. Here are five reasons to have a classroom library in your classroom. 1. Accessible Books Having a library in your classroom gives students another opportunity to access books. Depending on your classroom book check-out policy, your classroom library might also allow students who have late fines in the library to read a book. This is also especially helpful before school breaks. I have many students who stop by before the end of the day to check out a book before a break. Join my email list! Subscribe to r...