One of the most significant factors of a successful classroom novel study is engagement. If students are engaged in the text, they are more likely to enjoy reading, comprehend the story, and look at the story's content through a critical lens. I try my best to engage students in our whole-class novels by introducing the novel in a way that creates excitement and curiosity. I want my students to want to read. Here is a look at three different ways to introduce a classroom novel. Preview the Novel Give the students some time in class with the novel to preview the novel. When I have my students preview the novel, I usually give them about 10 minutes in class to look over and read the front and back covers, read the first few paragraphs, look up information about the author. Usually, to give my students some more structure for this activity, I will ask them several questions. Students are free to work in small groups answering these questions and discussing the book. What do you think ...
Teaching middle school and high school students editing skills will allow them to fine-tune their work effectively. That helps shape them to be strategic and adaptive writers as they will figure out different ways to write a sentence. I have students work on their editing skills by including a peer editing day with every major writing assignment. When I plan a peer editing day , I use a peer editing station approach to help guide students through the process. However, merely including peer editing in the classroom is not enough. There are other teaching writing strategies, such as explicitly focusing on practicing editing, to help students hone their skills. By practicing editing, students will start small by doing it with a partner, solo, or class, and then they will do their write-up. But, before starting any exercise, your class should create a template of punctuation marks. For instance, have students fold a piece of paper vertical and write periods, commas, etc., on the left side...
Teaching and reviewing novels in the middle school ELA or high school English classroom is one of the pinnacle activities of a secondary ELA curriculum. Once you finish a novel that you and your class have been reading together for several weeks, there's always that brief awkward moment. What's next? Before jumping headfirst into a new endeavor, you must have fully covered the one still at hand: that novel you just finished. When you read a class novel , it is essential to take some time to close out the reading so that students have enough time to understand, absorb, and learn from the full text in front of them. Here are four novel-reviewing techniques to use in your English classroom to make sure students fully understand the class novel you just read. Reviewing a Class Novel with Freytag's Pyramid Story arcs, pyramids, etc. are a timeless and tireless tool to examine the overall structure or skeleton of a novel - because this is needed before students can jump r...
When I first started using Google in the classroom back in, I don’t even know when, I had absolutely no idea about just how helpful the Google platform would be for teaching. From Google Classroom to Google Docs and everything between, the Google Suite definitely helps me stay organized as a teacher. Here’s a look at how I use Google in the classroom and as a teacher. Using Google Docs in the Classroom Google Docs for Digital Collaboration I love using Google Docs for collaborative activities in the classroom. With my journalism students, since we are 100 percent remote right now, we use a collaborative Google Doc for our monthly story brainstorming. Also, when I am conducting digital collaborative activities such as the collaborative rhetorical precis activity, we use a carefully-created Google Doc with tables for whole-class participation. You can read my recent digital collaboration blog post on the Secondary English Coffeeshop to learn more about how I use Google Docs for digita...
It is hard to understand what is going on with the world, but imagine being a kid or a young adult in 2020. This year has been a lot. Between the pandemic and the pressing  social injustice happening now, students are taking in a lot. That can cause a lot of stress for your students, regardless of age. It is a confusing time to be growing up, but how can you help to combat that? One way to help students cope with 2020 is blogging. Blogging can help your students explore their feelings about the world, for it will allow them to voice their opinions and concerns in a safe space with their peers. Of course, the blogs will differ if your classes are online or in person, but there are ways to get around that and still make it fun! The reason for these blogs is to help your students to cope with the unsettling ways of society. Thus, it is best to write down their thoughts and discuss them with people their age, who might be feeling the same. Comforting and assuring them that it is okay...
If there is one skill that high school students struggle with the most, it is properly citing their quotes in either MLA or APA format. That is why it is one of the first skills that I teach when we write about literature. Even though English teachers instruct students on how to embed quotations and cite their evidence appropriately, there might be a handful of students who still struggle with this. Plus, many students do not know the difference between APA and MLA format for essays. Not only should high school students learn about APA and MLA format, but middle school students should too because it would benefit them in upcoming grade levels by knowing how to format in-text citations, reference lists, etc. Learning MLA and APA Format is tedious for students to learn about APA and MLA, but there are ways to make it fun and accessible. Plus, you can bring in quotes for your students to practice with while doing APA and MLA exercises. Teaching APA vs. MLA Formatting In an ideal...
Teaching literary analysis in middle school and high school classrooms is much more engaging when you use fun acronyms. When teaching literature in the secondary ELA class, focus on the MTV: mood, tone, voice. Even for the experienced reader, mood, tone, and voice can sometimes feel impossible to distinguish. So it is natural that students have a tough time understanding mood, tone, and voice. All three of these elements contribute to the general feel of a story, so what is it that sets them apart? The differences might seem small and seemingly undetectable, but they are very important in helping students understand stories as clearly and accurately as possible. Since mood, tone, and voice all relate to the feel of a story, it is also through this word feel that we can set them apart. In my sticky note literary analysis teaching unit , I dedicate some organizers to teaching mood and teaching tone in literature. Have students reflect on the simple questions below to interna...
With the school year in full swing, teachers everywhere are exhausted. The 2020-2021 school year will be unlike any of the other school years. Whether you are teaching fully remote, in a hybrid setting, or back face-to-face, this year brings unique challenges. My first six weeks of complete remote learning have been filled with ups, downs, highs, lows, and more continually changing information from the top down that makes my head spin! With that said, I still want to provide my students with a rigorous and worthwhile learning experience in high school English while still maintaining my sanity. Here is a look at three digital and print resources for secondary ELA that are easy to assign and easy to teach. Short Story Close Reading Unit My short story close reading teaching unit includes the traditional print and Google digital options for the seven short stories. Each short story close reading unit lasts about a week. Students read the short story and then go back and read carefully se...
Journaling at the start of class is an excellent way for middle school and high school students to get into the right mindset to learn. Some students may enter your English classroom ready to dive into a text or a writing assignment, but many students need to ease into the material, and getting thoughts flowing on paper is a great way to do this. While it may be sufficient to tell students to write for a few minutes about whatever is on their minds, it can be helpful for many students if you provide guidance or a general topic for their writing. Here are four 10-minute journaling activities to use at the start of the secondary English class. 1. Picture journaling in the secondary ELA classroom For this exercise, find an interesting photo online and project it onto the board so that all your students can see it. Instruct them to write for 10 minutes about the picture. They can engage in creative writing and write a story, or students can jot down descriptive details of the pho...
Here are some engaging novel activities for middle school ELA and high school English that will help make in-class readings more fun. These unique activities will help students get involved and help them practice team-building skills and creative thinking. Journaling as a Novel Activity Journaling is an excellent way for students to express what they do or do not understand, which could help them grow as readers. With journaling, students would need to talk about each chapter and answer questions such as: What do you know so far? What do you like/ not like about this chapter? Think of it like this! A student chooses to read Lord of the Flies, and they record each chapter in their journal and answer the questions. After students finish reading, you could advise them to reflect on their answers and write if anything has changed. For example, say a student did not understand the bullying of Piggy. But after looking-over their journal, the student realizes the reason for the bu...
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...