As someone who graduated in the very early 2000s, I’ve seen the dynamic shift in educational practices and pedagogical strategies. The high school classrooms in which I once learned are far different from the high school classroom in which I teach. And this is a good thing. While some strategies have lasted through time, others are no longer beneficial to students. Here is a look at three teaching practices that you should stop immediately and what you should do instead. 1. Popcorn Reading Popcorn reading is one of the most anxiety-inducing classroom practices. What is the objective of this stressor anyway? Is it to make sure students are following along? Is it to assess student fluency? Is it to intimidate students into paying attention? Is it to fully help students comprehend the reading? Is it to catch students when they aren’t paying attention? Is it to humiliate students in front of their peers? Whatever the reason, I can guarantee you that is it more harmful than beneficial. I st...
With so much content to cover in the middle school ELA and high school classroom, it can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming. Here is a look at my favorite ELA teaching resources that help cover the breadth and depth of the English Language Arts standards. Resources for Teaching Vocabulary When it comes to teaching vocabulary in the classroom, it is best to focus on a few words a week and spend some time each day on the words. That’s why I love my Academic Vocabulary Teaching Uni t (available in both digital and print formats). With more than enough words to fill an entire school year, this academic vocabulary unit is an entire vocabulary program complete with instructional materials, student activities, and assessments. Academic Vocabulary Teaching Uni t Resources for Teaching Writing When it comes to teaching writing, there are two teaching resources that I always go back to and use again and again in my classroom. The first one is my Master the Essay: Essay Writing Bundle (available i...
Short stories are easily one of my favorite types of texts to teach! They are short, which the students already appreciate, but they are also jam-packed with so much complexity and meaning! An author can embed messages and observations about life in ways that informational texts cannot, and this makes reading them that much more enjoyable! Teaching short stories and teaching students how to interpret and analyze a short story can be overwhelming. There is so much packed into one short story, it can be hard to figure out how best to approach it. Teaching Short Stories: Start With the Basics My best piece of advice when teaching short stories is to start small and work your way towards fewer scaffolds and more complex texts. To accomplish this, I am sharing with you a couple activities that I use in my own classroom to help break it down into more manageable pieces. Another great way to introduce students to all of the basics is to have them work through this Elements of Fiction Escape R...
One of the best ways to get to know a new class of students is by providing them with a quick student survey that gathers essential information. On the first day of school, I always provide my high school students with this free student survey that contains essential information that helps me not only get to know my students but also be the best teacher I can be for them. One of my newer additions to this survey is a section on pronouns and how, when, and with whom I can use the student’s pronouns. Providing this simple space for students to express themself and their identity is so crucial for creating a safe space and building a positive classroom culture. According to the National Survey on LGBTQ Mental Health 2020 by The Trevor Project , 48% of LGBTQ youth reported engaging in some form of self-harm in the last 12 months, and that statistic drastically rose to more than 60% for trans and nonbinary youth. By simply including this simple question to the survey and providing our stu...
The start of a new school year or new semester is the perfect time to establish new classroom learning routines! Whether it be a bell-ringer routine for the middle school ELA or high school English classroom or a new vocabulary program you are looking to implement for the entire school year, students thrive with steady routines. Here is a look at three classroom routines you'll want to implement in your secondary ELA classroom this year. 1. Daily Vocabulary Practice Students acquire vocabulary best with routine and consistency. Long gone are the days of super long vocabulary lists that students have to master on their own. Instead, a much more practical approach to teaching vocabulary is to focus on a small list each week and spend a quick amount of time each day on those words. Both my Academic Vocabulary and my Latin Root Word Vocabulary units include both the print and digital versions of the materials. These vocabulary units are ideal for the secondary ELA classroom, and they i...