It’s not the most popular activity in my classroom, but I believe teaching close reading is a vital skill for my students to feel comfortable and confident in their ability to closely read, understand, and analyze a text. If you’re looking to bring your students to the next level in reading comprehension and analysis, read on for tips and tricks. What is close reading? First, it’s important to know that close reading is not a summary of the main points and it’s not a personal response. It’s actually more in-depth than that. When you close read, you should be focused on analysis and interpretation. Students should pick apart the work. This is the time to uncover layers, make inferences, and look for specific textual evidence. It’s more than a reader response. It is understanding what the author is doing. Why were these words chosen? Why described in this way? Why is this interesting (or not)? Notice that, while it is important that students acknowledge the need for tapping into prio...
  You probably won’t get very far in teaching without hearing about a plethora of sticky note activities. It might even seem overwhelming because you can use sticky notes for just about anything. What are the best practices for using sticky notes, especially when you’re teaching older students? Read on to see my suggestions. 1. Use them conscientiously There are two points to consider - how to get ahold of them, and what to do with them when you’re done. Buy in bulk for the best bang for your buck. But if you are tight in the supply budget and it’s part of your school culture to provide supply lists to students, consider having students contribute to a class stock of sticky notes or have them bring their own supply. The other thing to consider is how to dispose of sticky notes. There’s a myth that sticky notes can’t be recycled. While some types of sticky notes are harder to recycle (like those with fluorescent dyes), and not all recycling centers take “mixed paper”, I recommend consid...
With the end of the school year approaching, it’s time to begin planning that last unit or final activity. Here is a list of 5 different high school English and middle school ELA units to consider teaching at the end of the school year. Synthesis Writing Students are very passionate about high-interest topics, and one of the best ways to harness that energy is to teach a synthesis writing unit. These synthesis argument essays cover topics that students are interested in and help walk students through the synthesis process. The Research Paper Assigning a final research paper is one of the quintessential final units for a secondary ELA classroom. This research paper teaching unit includes everything you could need to teach the research process and assign a research paper to students. research paper teaching unit   Future College and Career Research Paper Before sending students out for the summer, one great way to wrap up the year is to assign either a future college or a future career...
Shakespeare has been gone for 400 years and yet we still insist on keeping him in our classroom. Mention Shakespeare, and I can guarantee teens immediately put up a front. Breaking through that initial abrasiveness can sometimes become a hurdle - but pointing out Shakespeare’s relevancy is a great start to a study. Below are some quick thoughts you might consider sharing with students, as well as several resources you can use while teaching Shakespeare. Shakespeare influenced our language. You can find so many references in our English language directly from Shakespeare’s work. If your students have ever been tongue-tied or hoodwinked, they’re quoting Shakespeare. There is a definitive record of Shakespeare being identified as the sole user or the first user of many common words and phrases. Your students might enjoy focusing on phrases they do recognize instead of worrying about what seems confusing. Shakespeare's themes are timeless. If you cut the language that feels outdated to...
So, you want to teach Long Way Down? Long Way Down is a verse novel about a fifteen-year-old boy named Will Holloman. It is a great book that really engages students! Teaching Long Way Down can be an engaging and thought-provoking unit for your students, and there is so much you can do with this novel study. I use the materials in this Long Way Down Novel Study with my students as we read the text in my classroom. If you are looking at how to teach Long Way Down or activities to incorporate in your classroom when teaching Long Way Down, here is the ultimate list for you. Here are 25 ideas for teaching Long Way Down. Watch Author Interviews A great way to introduce students to a novel and author is to have them watch author interviews and videos before reading the book. One of my favorite videos to show my class before reading Long Way Down is the Daily Show interview with Trevor Noah. This is a great introductory interview because students get to know Jason Reynolds, who he is, what he...
It’s the not-so-favorite time of year - state testing. And while students may agonize and teachers may groan at the thought of another year of standardized testing in the midst of whatever this new normal is, it’s up to us to prepare our students the best we can. Here are six ideas to help you prep for the test prep season. 1. Get organized This applies to you as well as your students. Think about your game plan. What are you going to accomplish? “Prep for state testing” is too broad a statement. Think about specific tasks, specific knowledge your students need. Think about how you’ll organize your students and how much time you will need. Don’t add more stress to the situation by going in at the last minute with packets you found on the internet but didn’t have time to vet. Be methodical in what you plan. If you’ve waited until the final hour, focus on one or two main test prep areas: writing with evidence or focusing on listening skills. 2. Try something fun Students don’t need endl...
When it comes to teaching middle school and high school English, here are ten lessons to teach in 2022. Thesis Statment Writing   One of the most essential skills a student can learn in a high school English classroom is how to write a well-developed thesis statement. Once students master thesis statement writing, their essays improve tremendously. This thesis statement lesson includes an instructional presentation (that includes good and bad examples) and student materials to make teaching thesis statement writing easy. Thesis Statement Writing Unit Logical Fallacies   Teaching students about logical fallacies is a crucial element in my argumentation unit. By teaching students about logical fallacies, we are teaching students how to better read and analyze information and also how to write stronger arguments. This logical fallacies lesson plan includes a logical fallacies instructional slide and student materials. Logical Fallacies Teaching Unit Colons and Semicolons Teaching stude...
For many educators, trying to convince students that figurative language is what MAKES literature is like telling them there was life before TikTok. Many of them still insist that such claims must surely be urban myths. In all of my time in the secondary ELA classroom, I admit that some of my most challenging lessons have been over figurative language. Students see that phrase and are immediately intimidated, and I don’t necessarily blame them. There’s so much more to it than your basic metaphors and similes. It’s a little intimidating! When introducing my students to more complex literary concepts like allusions, personification, and more, I’ve discovered that it’s all about breaking it down into smaller “chunks” of information so they don’t get too overwhelmed. Of course, there’s a lot of modeling, whole-class discussion, and activities along the way as well. I also think learning should be fun, which is why I’ve come up with these five engaging ideas for teaching figurative language...