When teaching literature in the middle school ELA or high school English classroom, one element students struggle with is the theme. Students struggle with identifying the theme of a story and analyzing how it develops throughout the plot. One way to help students learn how to identify the theme of any fictional text is by simply climbing the “ropes”... ROPES is an acronym that stands for relationships, objective, power, ethics, and strength. You can pose these questions to your students the next time you are analyzing theme in the classroom. Use this acronym when teaching theme to your secondary ELA students. Relationships How are the protagonist’s relationships with other characters affected as the story progresses? To what extent is the protagonist responsible for these changes? The protagonist’s role in evoking these changes and the significance of the changes themselves will help readers determine whether this story is commenting on the personal, interpersonal, or ...
For many students, learning new words can be one of the greatest joys or greatest dreads alike. For a few of our students, there is nothing more exhilarating than coming across a mysterious new word in a book, leaning its meaning, and, proudly showing off the newly-acquired treasure to friends and family. However, for countless others, new words aren't all that exciting. And for many of our students, new, confusing, and intimidating words are roadblocks. Alas, this is not how it's meant to be! Here are five activities that will engage students creatively with their vocabulary words and ensure that they permanently "stick" in students' minds: 1. Media Meetup This weekly activity works best in partnerships or groups of three. At the beginning of each week, have students, in their pairs/groups, split up the vocabulary list amongst themselves, so that each student is responsible for an equal number of words. The students must then find examples of the words p...
Creative writing is a skill that can be expanded and applied to many other areas of the secondary ELA curriculum, like analyzing text or creating out-of-the-box arguments. The best exercises are those that are engaging and stick with students for the rest of their learning experiences. Teaching creative writing in the classroom can oftentimes feel like a daunting task, so it is important to incorporate fun and engaging writing activities into the classroom. Making writing fun and memorable is easy with these five creative exercises: The 5 Senses:  The five senses are an essential part of any descriptive writing. Take your students outside or to an area with high foot traffic. Instruct them to choose a person or object to write about, using all five senses. Allow them to read their short descriptions out loud to one another and to take note of which senses their peers used. One resource to help your students learn how to write more descriptively is my Descriptive Writi...
Social justice is necessary to weave into the English curriculum because it allows students to explore their own world views and discuss them with other students. Teenagers must be provided with a space to explore and discuss important social justice issues. Sometimes, they need just a bit of guidance. Here are five ways to incorporate social justice into the classroom. 1. Help students find a social justice issue they are passionate about. Not everyone will share the same passion about the same topics, and that's okay! It is crucial to help students explore what they feel strongly about. Start by asking them what aspects of their lives they value most, and create a discussion about how those things might not be present in everyone's lives. For example, a student might be really passionate about sports and may be interested in making sports more accessible to people worldwide. By asking your students questions about what they value, you can help them find causes they may...
When it comes to teaching middle school ELA and high school English students the art of literary analysis , allusions can often serve as a major roadblock. Students might approach a text with complete eagerness, clarity, and comfort, only for that peculiar-sounding reference to leave them hesitant and despondent -- unsure of how, exactly, to proceed. They might wonder if this mysterious name adds essential context and meaning to the story. Or, they might simply think that the author liked that particular painting. When plagued with these sorts of questions, the typical response is to either overstimulate or abandon the allusion. When teaching your students all about allusion during your next short story or novel student, pose these questions to your students. 1. What is the exact thing, person, or event to which the author is referring? This question might seem like an obvious one, but frequently, when there is a relatively famous allusion at hand, further research might seem ...
Some of the main goals in an English class are to help students become better writers, enhance their critical thinking skills, and improve communication. These strengths may seem individualistic by nature, but working in groups in the classroom can benefit students’ development of these skills. Students need to learn how to work in groups to establish the essential college and career skills they'll need after high school. Here are three benefits of group work in the secondary ELA classroom. 1. Collaborate with New Students Group work allows students to work with people they don’t usually collaborate with or spend time with. Most middle and high school students choose to associate with their friends in class or students with whom they feel comfortable. By doing so, they generally spend time with people similar to themselves. Maintaining an element of group work in the classroom allows students to work with other people that are not in their immediate circle. This process hel...
One of the first things teachers learn in their pre-service teaching classes is the importance of establishing effective classroom routines and procedures for the middle school and high school classroom. Here is a look at 12 effective daily classroom routines to consider for your middle school ELA or high school English classroom. Essential Classroom Routines According to Shana Ramin from Hello, Teacher Lady , daily agenda slides are one of her classroom's most valuable tools. She started creating daily slides a few years ago to keep track of lesson materials and make it easier for absent students to see what they missed. At first, she only posted them on Google Classroom — students could log on and access the information and materials they missed in one convenient place — but Shana quickly realized how beneficial it was to display the slides for students at the beginning of class as well. Students would walk into class knowing exactly what they needed for t...