Complete distance teaching high school English is so much different than teaching in-person. To effectively teach remotely, I have to modify everything I know about teaching, from classroom management to teaching strategies. And I am quickly learning that just when I feel like I am getting the hang of it, there's a change or a pivot in the plan. However, for now, teaching high school English remotely from the quietness of my empty classroom is what my day looks like. Several weeks ago, I asked people what questions they had about my experiences teaching remotely. Since I go back to school earlier than many people across the nation, I am trying to share my remote teaching experiences as candidly as possible to help prepare other teachers for what's to come. Compulsory distance teaching has been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride. This post is the second remote teaching QandA blog post I have. The link to the first blog post is at the end of this post. How do you build classro...
With classes starting up again soon, it is essential to welcome your students back into the classroom in an engaging and personalized way. When students see personal touches they can connect to during class, they are more likely to see the classroom as a welcoming space where they can be themselves. A place that they will want to be. While classrooms may look different this year, whether you are teaching in-person, in a hybrid setting, or entirely online, there are still ways to add personalized details to the back-to-school season. If you're looking for information about starting the school year remotely, you might be interested in this blog post . Here are four ways to center your classroom on the needs and interests of your students. Creating a Student-Centered Classroom: Get to know your students. This notion may seem obvious, but to personalize your classroom for your students, you have to know a little bit about them before starting the class. A great way to do this is to sen...
After being back in the classroom teaching my students remotely for three weeks now, I am starting to feel like I am more in the groove. I don’t have distance teaching high school English mastered -I’m not even close, but I’m noticing that these remote teaching tips help me save some time and sanity. Now, while every week, every day of distance teaching will be different this school year, these distance teaching time-saving tips might help those challenging days not seem so bad. And trust me, I had some bad days also. You can read about my first two weeks in this blog pos t.  Remote Teaching Tip: Batch Your Work Batching your work is a productivity strategy that I use in my everyday life. Not only does batching my work keep me organized, but it helps me cross items off of my to-do list pretty quickly. To batch your work when you are remote teaching, set aside a dedicated chunk of time to focus on just one task and do your very best to complete that task before getting distracted and mo...
With so many middle school ELA and high school English teachers starting the school year with remote or hybrid teaching, this school year will look very different from previous years. Whether you are distance teaching your English students or teaching in a socially-distanced high school or middle school ELA classroom setting, teachers are looking for more digital solutions. Here’s a quick glimpse at my top 10 must-have digital teaching resources for secondary ELA. Digital Essay Writing Unit for Secondary ELA This digital essay writing unit is ideal for middle school ELA and younger high school students. This teaching writing unit breaks down essay instruction into three distinct lessons: teaching the into and the thesis statement, teaching the topic sentence and body paragraph, and teaching the conclusion.  Digital and Editable Writing Rubrics for Secondary ELA You will never need to make another rubric every again! This digital ELA writing rubrics resource includes five fully-editable...
Thank you to everyone who sent me a question about my experience teaching remotely for the first two weeks of the school year. I hope that my experience back in the classroom, remotely teaching, will help you get a good start for the school year. I received so many questions that I am breaking this post up. This post is the first round of remote teaching Q&As. My first two weeks of remote teaching were definitely interesting. From my first day of school, which was absolutely awful and isolating, to my first full week of instruction, it's been nothing short of a roller coaster ride. Alas, it is getting better. However, it would be utterly naive of me to think that I've mastered the art of distance teaching. I am in no way an expert in remote teaching, but here is a look at my experience. Please note that when I say "week 2," that means one-half week and one full week of remote instruction. Our half week was one half-day and two full days (but block schedule, so jus...
Teaching middle school ELA and high school English students how to write well is a challenging task! One way to help students improve their writing is to teach them how to "cut the fat." Whether writing essays , prose, or anything in between, some students will always be tempted to outdo themselves, making their writing a bit more superfluous, or "extra," than it needs to be. It's hard to blame students, given the complexity of the English language and all the things that we're allowed to do with it. However, students should be aware of how to make their writing as concise and straightforward as possible. This is often the most effective way of communicating any story or message. Here are five easy suggestions to help your students "cut the fat" in their writing. 1. Leave the "ly" s behind. More particularly, encourage students to keep the adverb usage to a minimum. Sure, adverbs can spice up the blandness of certain verbs, and ...
With the back-to-school year upon us, this new school year will present some unique challenges. In particular, how are teachers going to get to know their new students and establish an inviting classroom community -especially if they are teaching remotely or in a hybrid setting? This school year, I will be starting out teaching my high school English classes remotely. I will be reporting every single day to my classroom to teach my students who are at home. And while I am still laying out the foundation for my back-to-school plans, I’ve got a good idea for how I would like to start the school year. For beginners, I want to introduce students to our new online platform, Canvas, slowly. In doing so, I plan to do my best not to overwhelm students during the first couple of weeks of remote learning instruction. Weeks 1&2 of Remote Teaching My first-day-of-school in the digital classroom While teaching remotely, I want to introduce myself to my students and allow them to...
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...