As a middle school ELA or high school English teacher, there is so much content to teach students. From teaching essay writing to reading comprehension, grammar to listening skills, ELA teachers have a lot of content to cover. Here's a look at 10 middle school ELA and high school English lessons to include in your classroom. Essay Writing Bundle - This resource breaks down the essay writing process into manageable chunks with a mini-units that focus on the introduction and thesis, body paragraphs and topic sentences, and the conclusion. New Years' Resolution with Sticky Notes  - I update this resource every year, and I recently updated it for 2020! These activities combine growth mindset qualities with New Year's goals and resolutions. It's the perfect way to jump into the New Year. Synthesis Writing Bundle - If you are looking to add rigor and engagement to your upcoming argument writing unit, I've got you covered. Each synthesis writing unit include...
With so many different forms of media readily accessible at the tap of a finger, teachers have lots of content from which to choose. Here are seven different forms of media that teachers can use to help teach writing to students. Magazine articles Magazines contain a variety of writing. From in-depth news stories to personal profiles, magazines offer lengthier text that provides readers with more detail. Showing your class the variety of stories that magazines publish can help students understand the different kinds of writing there are that can make an impact. Students can use magazine articles as mentor texts for lengthier writing assignments that don't fit the standard five-paragraph mold. Television shows Television show writing is a little different than the writing students may be used to, but there are still benefits from studying it. It may seem ridiculous to study television, as people often view TV solely for entertainment purposes. However, studying television...
Teaching in the second quarter and toward the end of the first semester can be a bit tough. The novelty of the new school year has worn off, October is long, and winter break is just a bit too far away still. However, there are quite a few positives that the second quarter of the school year brings. For one, your students know all of your classroom routines, and your body has completely adjusted to school time. Here’s a look at ten classroom lessons and activities that I like to teach and include in my classroom in the second quarter of the school year. Argument Writing - Students love a good argument essay prompt, and this unit includes all of the materials that you’ll need to teach your students about argumentative essay writing. It includes student writing resources and an editable PowerPoint presentation for direct instruction. Writing in the Third Person - If you are anything like me right about now, you’ve assigned your students their first essay and quickly r...
This is a sponsored post by Listenwise.com. If you haven’t checked out Listenwise.com yet, you and your students are missing out on some fantastic listening-based lessons and activities in the middle school and high school classroom. As a high school English teacher at a public school that participates in annual state standardized tests, I definitely feel the pressure to adequately prepare my students so that they do their best on the test. Not only do state tests contribute to school funding, indexing, and ranking, but in California, a junior’s score on the state test gets printed on their transcript and can affect Cal State college admissions. The stakes are pretty high. There are quite a few ways that I help prepare my students for state testing, and one of them is by focusing on the lowest scoring testing strand: listening. Currently, 22 states have a listening component on their state tests, and not just in California, but throughout the entire nation, students score the ...
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...
In an earlier blog post , I wrote about the benefits of assigning a collaborative writing assignment in the high school English and middle school ELA classroom. In the post, one of the benefits included less grading. And to be completely honest, that is why I switched up my sophomores' recent short story paragraph about "The Veldt." I was already behind on grading various writing assignments, and so I decided a collaborative paragraph was the way to go. As I switched gears from an individual Jane Schaffer literary analysis paragraph to a collaborative paragraph, I thought about how I could make the activity even more beneficial for my students. It was still early in the school year, and I was still working on writing instruction with my students -primarily on how to properly embed quotes and write thoughtful commentary . So, I decided to have my students color-code each element of the paragraph. This was my way to get students actively thinking about every single pa...
John Green is the Shakespeare of contemporary YA. Actually, he’s more like The Beatles of contemporary YA, everything he writes is a hit. If you teach high school English and are not familiar with his work, you should be—because many of your students have probably read his books or at least seen the films they’re based on. Of course, it’s difficult for teachers to get the funding and permission to incorporate a contemporary novel into the curriculum. Because of that, a novel such as Paper Towns might function best as an option among several books you provide your students to choose from for a lit circle project. Either way, here are two strategies for teaching the novel. While these might function best as full-class lessons/projects, they can be used as jumping-off points for individual assignments as well. The Walt Whitman Focus Paper Towns is a little bit like The Da Vinci Code for teenagers. The novel is a love story/mystery that incorporates popular references (actual...