If there’s one thing that students of all ages love and find joy in, it’s music. Thanks to technology, streaming services make all kinds of music available to anyone with a smartphone or a laptop. Mixing and matching favorite tracks and creating playlists is a rite of passage to tweens and teens; a marker of their ability to decide what they like and dislike for themselves. So why not incorporate that into your curriculum? Incorporating music into selected reading units can transform and channel that strong sense of individuality and autonomy into excitement for literature and developing critical thinking skills. The key? Playlists, Playlists, Playlists! You’ve probably heard your students discussing their playlists, whether they’re talking about the songs they love, exchanging customized collections as gifts, or ribbing each other about their respective musical guilty pleasures. Siphon that passionate energy and self-driven creativity into classroom assignments using that v...
This post is sponsored by the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. As a high school English teacher, I love helping students learn and strive for their best possible future. One way that high school girls can achieve excellence is by joining the Girl Scouts of the USA. Research shows that Girl Scouts are more likely than non–Girl Scouts to achieve academic excellence. When it comes to teamwork, hands-on learning and reflection, and decision making, Girl Scouts will overachieve. One of the highest honors Girl Scouts can earn is the Gold Award . The 2019 10 National Gold Award Girl Scouts are remarkable girls who are making a positive impact in their communities and in the world. These girls are exemplary role models for our students. And while there are ten girls who earn the honor of the National Gold Award Girl Scout, any high school Girl Scout can earn their Gold Award. Furthermore, any girl in high school may join Girl Scouting for the first time and still be eligible to become a Gol...
Shakespeare, schmakespeare. Or at least, that is what some of our students may think. The Bard may be prolific, but his words are, in fact, not gospel. In fact, quite a few teachers nationwide are ditching the Bard for other titles. You can incorporate some excitement into a school day with a diverse selection of plays that can stand alone or supplement an existing novel unit. Here are five great alternatives to Shakespeare. This post contains affiliate links. O Beautiful by Theresa Rebeck O Beautiful packs in most, if not all, of today’s controversial issues, such as racism, homophobia, abortion, gun control, religion, and aggressive patriotism. The show’s surreal nature lends itself well to blending historical issues with modern ones: Historical figures like Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and even Jesus Christ pop up as characters that interact with everyday teens and doting homemakers. O Beautiful’s straightforward style and young characters make it the perfect supp...
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, is a strikingly unique tale about how we must all eventually grow up and learn to put the fantasies of our childhood to rest. Part of what makes this book so unique is that once our protagonist, Jacob, accepts reality as is, he quickly learns the world is full of far more mystery and wonder than he could have ever imagined. Riggs deploys a trick on the reader one rarely comes across—The big twist is not the shocking finale; instead, it takes place about a quarter of the way through the novel. This catalyzes a fantasy-adventure story, so full of action and suspense; it almost reads like a different book. The first quarter of the novel is a rather sad account of Jacob struggling to comprehend his grandfather’s death. He is diagnosed with acute stress disorder and is made to see a therapist. His relationship with his parents suffers; he loses his only friend after a fight and suffers from horrific nightmares. It’s difficult...
One of the fundamental building blocks of learning is vocabulary. Having a well-rounded and robust vocabulary plays a critical role in students' learning, communication skills, language development, and comprehension. Whenever I plan a new unit, whether it be a literature-based unit or a skills-based unit, I always include vocabulary words to accompany my instruction. When I use Vocabulary.com , I can easily find an existing list that matches my instruction. If such a list doesn't exist, I can modify a current list to meet my specific instructional needs or build my own list. Here is a list of five critical reasons for why teachers should intentionally include vocabulary in every unit. Improves Language Development and Acquisition When students work on improving their vocabulary regularly, they build a stronger vocabulary base. This strong vocabulary base helps improve literacy rates and help students be more successful academically. It is important to include academi...
If there's one thing you can tell your students for sure, it's that the human race is a race of storytellers. From ancient times to legends and folk songs, people have always loved to share stories, especially on special occasions. Halloween, for example, has no shortage of spooky tales to be told, and those stories come in all shapes and sizes. To get your students into the scary spirit, here are ten novels and short stories to read this Halloween season: (Bonus points if they're read aloud in the dark, with a single, flickering flashlight, with spooky music playing in the background.) This post contains affiliate links, which do not affect you at all. However, I may receive a small kickback to help run the cost of this website. Coraline by Neil Gaiman Though Gaiman intended this novella for young children, its unique appeal extends to all ages. After Coraline moves into a creaky old house with her inattentive parents, she sets out to explore her new home and find...