At its heart, The Sun is Also a Star (affiliate link) is a novel about empathy. Yoon uses an unconventional style in her take on the teenage love story. Instead of a traditional narrative, Yoon jumps back and forth between the perspectives of the two main characters: Daniel, the aspiring poet and Yale-bound son of Korean immigrants. And Natasha, the aspiring scientist and undocumented-immigrant who came to America, from Jamaica, at age nine. Peppered throughout the book are chapters in which a nameless narrator tells us the history of the various characters we encounter as well as the various topics we encounter, such as why Korean-Americans own so many black hair care businesses and the actual science behind falling in love. The novel takes place on Natasha’s last day in America. Due to her father getting a DUI several months earlier, her family is set to be deported that night. In between rushing around New York City looking for a miracle that would allow her to stay in Amer...
Because picture books never really go out of style, and also because big kids love graphic novels, too. This post contains affiliate links. 1. Pashmina , written and illustrated by Nidhi Chanani Priyanka Das' life is full of missing pieces: Her mother is tight-lipped about Pri's absent father, her own family, and most importantly, her native country, India. After discovering a pashmina in an old suitcase, Pri is transported to a strange, beautiful world full of the color that her own life lacks. Follow Pri as she attempts to figure out the secret to her mother's past, to unlock her own heritage. Note: Only Pri's imagined-India is in drawn color! Her day-to-day life is black and white. This is a stunning visual cue that makes reading Chanani's work so fun! Plus, you can analyze the juxtaposition of the author's use of color to tell the story with your students. 2. The Umbrella Academy , written by Gerard Way, illustrated by Gabriel Ba If any of yo...
Wintertime is a hard season to prepare for because students are either already checked out for Winter Break or they're starting back up slowly after returning from Winter Break. This is the time when you really want to get their attention with some fun and exciting literature. What better way to do that than to read some winter-themed stories? The following are some short stories and poetry centered around winter that you can use to keep your students heated in those cold winter months. This post contains affiliate links. To Build a Fire by Jack London This classic short story will keep your students in suspense until the very end with its timeless tale of man-vs.-nature. An unnamed man in his arrogance takes on the harsh winters of the Yukon Territory and ultimately loses the fight for survival. It sifts from Leaden Sieves by Emily Dickinson Known for her strong imagery, Emily Dickinson paints for us a beautiful portrait of snow without ever saying the word throughout ...
Whether you’re looking forward to celebrating your favorite holiday or simply looking forward to the upcoming winter break, there’s no better way to appreciate the sweater weather than with a great book! The holiday season may fall during cold snaps and chilly air, but that just means it’s the best time for warmth, love, and even reflection as another year winds to a close. Spread some magic with 15 books for the holiday season. This post contains affiliate links. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery Nothing says “holiday spirit” like a plucky orphan with a big imagination! This classic has been enchanting children and adults alike for decades, and it’s undoubtedly suited for curling up with a few blankets and a mug of something hot. Your students are sure to fall in love with the fanciful, dramatic Anne, who forges life-long friendships and bitter rivalries on her quest for a romantic and adventurous life. As Anne grows and matures, your students will be privy to val...
This is a sponsored post by Vocabulary.com. I love using Vocabulary.com in my classroom, and I’ve used it with my students to help them build their vocabulary and practice their skills for going on four years now. Since starting to use the online program, I’ve seen my students grow their vocabulary knowledge, become stronger writers, and improve their test scores. And while I use the Premium version in my classroom, there are plenty of ways that middle school and high school teachers can use the free platform in their classrooms. Play The Challenge One way to incorporate the free version of Vocabulary.com in your classroom is to have students play The Challenge. It is an adaptive game that automatically adjusts to a student’s level, and it is ideal for helping students learn and practice new vocabulary. Try This in Your Classroom: Have students begin the class period with five minutes of working on The Challenge. This routine will give you time to enter attendance and get ready ...
A recent article in The Guardian asks the question, “Are today’s young readers turning on The Catcher in the Rye ?” The short answer to this question is, yes. And the reason lies in Holden Caulfield’s lack of relatability. Holden is white, straight, male, and comes from a well-off family. Maybe Caulfield was never super relatable. Maybe part of The Catcher ’s success lies in the fact that his adventure is enviable to most teenagers (running around New York city unsupervised), and that his angst, while specific to him, is relatable in a general sense to all teenagers. This post contains affiliate links which may provide me with a small kickback to help me maintain the costs of operating this website. In the article, author Dana Czapnik argues that The Catcher in the Rye isn’t important because of Holden’s relatability but because of how masterfully Salinger portrays his imperfect protagonist. While this is a strong point, perhaps it is time to teach it in a creative writing cour...
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...