While some teachers love teaching students grammar principles, it is not everyone’s favorite part of being an English teacher. However, teaching (and learning about) this subject doesn’t have to be as painful as pulling teeth. Here are five ways to make the process more enjoyable for everyone: Be in tune with your students’ oral communication pattern After all, speech and writing are intertwined, and there are generally more opportunities to correct grammar issues in spoken word. Correcting incorrect speech can, under the right circumstances, lead to stronger writing and grammar skills. However, we must keep the following in mind: use mistakes solely as a learning opportunity. We often forget how embarrassing it is to be corrected in front of the class. Instead of addressing the issue to them in a short, curt manner, try addressing the student individually or using it to spark a more extensive conversation. Boost student engagement Students often learn a lot from their peer...
If you teach at a public school, there is one thing for sure: state standardized tests. Despite how you might feel about standardized tests, our public schools rely on test scores as part of their rankings. As a high school English teacher in California, I administer the state test to my juniors yearly. Adding to the pressure students feel during their junior year, it is the only year they take our state test -the CAASPP (which is California’s version of the SBAC). While some of my test prep is more direct, I try to make other test prep in my classroom engaging. Here are some of my favorite activities and lessons for test prep! Nonfiction Reading Test Prep Escape Room When students take state tests, they’ll encounter reading passages and various questions that assess their learning and understanding. This escape room provides students with an opportunity for collaborative, hands-on practice with common state test questions stems. Plus, since it is an escape room activity, stud...
So many students have a hard time finding a connection between their 21st-century lives and the works of William Shakespeare. And while his plays were written more than 400 years ago, his messages are timeless. Here are some ways you can make the Bard more relatable to your students. 1. Dispel the Fear of the Unknown One of the many reasons students dislike Shakespeare is because it is unfamiliar. It can seem strange, ridiculous even, to think someone from the 21st century can even understand someone from 450 years ago, let alone relate to them; and because of this, students will subconsciously distance themselves from the literature before even giving it a try in the first place. To stop this from happening, help students find ways to connect with the situations or characters in the story. For example, Much Ado About Nothing is a play about miscommunication that results in hilarious hijinks. Have students talk about times when miscommunication created a funny situation. Having ...
In the public education setting, timed-writes are a required part of many standardized tests. Rather than try to cloak that reality, embrace it! Show your students that timed writing can be a fun challenge, and develop their expository and analytical prowess by beginning every class with a writing warm-up. These warm-ups should take only five to ten minutes, and you can easily implement them into your daily bell-ringer routine. Here are ten exercises to build your students' writing confidence: 1 Minute Story Get your students in the habit of writing from the word "go." Set the time for 60 seconds and task them with writing a complete short story with a beginning, middle, and end in that time. The first time, many of them will probably find themselves caught up in the pressure or struggle over what to write. That's okay! The more they practice, the better they will become at thinking quickly and excluding any unnecessary information. By the end of the school y...
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...