In a perfect universe, students would have an infinite amount of time to read and dissect, and read and dissect, and read and dissect some more. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect universe. No matter whether you're teaching middle or high school students, you're undoubtedly aware of just how busy they can get, with the endless slew of extracurriculars and possibly even part-time jobs and family obligations. It's no surprise, then, that sometimes reading Chapter 12 of Jane Eyre might not be so high on their priority list. Here are some tips to help students find time for fun and productive reading within their busy schedules: 1. A good reader knows when to stop. The impetus to keep going can sometimes be very strong even if our eyes are closing shut in defiance. The first step to finding time for productive reading is doing away with the times when it's unproductive. For example, if a student is convinced that they absolutely must finish this chapter of Huckleber...
Whether you are teaching middle school ELA or high school English in a virtual or hybrid setting, there are many uncertainties this school year. One thing for sure is that having teaching resources readily available in Google digital and PDF print versions have saved me some sanity. Here is a look at my top money-saving print and digital secondary ELA teaching resources. These middle school ELA and high school English teaching bundles include both the Google digital and traditional print formats for seamless teaching. Essay Writing Teaching Unit I created this essay writing teaching resource for high school students who are still working on mastering how to write an essay. Even though I created it for high school students, it also works well for middle school ELA students who are beginning to learn how to write essays. In this unit, students learn how to write essays with a step-by-step and paragraph-by-paragraph approach. This teaching unit consists of three mini-lessons: how to writ...
One of the most effective ways to teach students how to become stronger writers is to break down the writing process, only focus on one specific area at a time, and provide students with consistent practice. In this blog post, I will share tips on teaching writing and some of my favorite teaching resources for teaching students how to write essays. Teaching Writing Tip #1: Break Down the Essay One of the most helpful strategies for teaching students how to write essays is to break down the essay paragraph-by-paragraph. In doing so, the act of writing an essay will be less daunting for students. In my Mastering the Essay teaching resource, I break down the essay writing process for students paragraph-by-paragraph. With direct instruction and small group activities, students learn about how to write an effective thesis statement, introduction, body paragraph, and conclusion. This essay writing teaching resource is ideal for middle school and high school students. It includes an editable...
One of my favorite units to teach is my short story unit. Teaching students about the elements of fiction and literary devices is so much fun. Helping students closely read the stories and analyze the stories on a deeper level is also extremely rewarding. When I teach short stories, I typically focus on just one short story a week. We read the short story, go back and reread it, and really spend some time with it. Here is a look at how I teach short stories in my secondary ELA classroom. Getting Started with Teaching Short Stories The first thing to do when starting a short story unit is to teach students about essential elements of fiction including plot, characterization, conflict, setting, etc. Once students have a fundamental understating of fiction elements, I like to engage my students in an elements of fiction escape room activity to review these elements. Since I teach high school and most of these elements are a review, I usually quickly review the elements of fiction and the...
A great way to get students writing in middle school or high school English class is by assigning a memoir project. When thinking about writing a memoir, people get nervous, especially students, as they will have to let down their walls and share a portion of their lives. Also, it is hard to remember fragments of memories because it will be a challenge to recall significant moments in their lives. Though it is important to remind students that they do not have to share memories that will be uncomfortable to write, they can choose mundane memories like a walk to school. By writing about these small moments, students will learn how to remember and become comfortable writing the critical ones. But before writing, teachers will need to explain the importance of senses and interviewing skills since students will need to interview various people to help them recall a memory. For example, Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle, interviewed her mother to recount their lives while s...
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...