Engaging Secondary Students with Crime Stories

Engaging Secondary Students with Crime Stories

There is a reason why crime stories dominate tv and film. People love them! They are equal parts mysterious, suspenseful, horrifying, gruesome, and terrifying. These are the exact traits that draw us in as viewers, and these are the exact same reasons why crime stories are an excellent way to engage secondary students.

5 Activities to Encourage Creative Thinking in Secondary ELA

5 Activities to Encourage Creative Thinking in Secondary ELA

Here are five ways to encourage creative thinking in secondary ELA while also targeting essential reading and writing skills. Some of these activities are collaborative while others are for independent work. All of these activities can be integrated into the curriculum for any literary unit of study.

TEN Children's Books for Secondary ELA

TEN Children's Books for Secondary ELA

Children’s books can be deceivingly “easy” and “childish.” But upon closer observation, many children’s books contain enough complexity to make them relevant texts to use as teaching tools for literary elements, techniques, and analysis.

5 Innovative Activities & Projects for Any Novel Unit

5 Innovative Activities & Projects for Any Novel Unit

As secondary ELA teachers, there are certain traditional activities that we tend to give our students during a novel study. These activities range from body maps to dialectical journals.

Five ESSENTIAL Questions to Guide Textual Analysis

Five ESSENTIAL Questions to Guide Textual Analysis

Textual analysis can be very confusing when it is anchored or bogged down by esoteric terminology, jargon, and specific devices. This terminology can make textual analysis and close reading and intimidating process for students.

Don't Grade Every Piece of Paper: 8 Strategies for More Efficient and Effective Grading

Don't Grade Every Piece of Paper: 8 Strategies for More Efficient and Effective Grading

Teaching on the secondary level can be challenging with the number of students that we are required to teach each year.  Therefore, it is essential as a secondary teacher to develop strategies for more efficient grading practices and to rethink our roles as auditors rather than graders.

9 Tips for Teaching AP Literature

9 Tips for Teaching AP Literature

Teaching an AP course is incredibly difficult because it comes with the added pressure from students’ desires for college credit, parents wanting their money’s worth from the exam prices, and the administration looking over your shoulder.

How to get Started with Mentor Sentences

How to get Started with Mentor Sentences

Mentor sentences are an excellent tool to use in the secondary ELA classroom to model essential skills from grammar to literary devices.  They reinforce quality writing skills from published in authors in a positive way rather than the traditional sentence correction method that modeled negative traits.  

8 Ways to Help Students Break Through Writer’s Block

8 Ways to Help Students Break Through Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is real.  It can be the brick wall that stands between success and failure.  And it can be the force that prevents students from completing writing assignments.

15 Ways to Integrate Student Choice into the Secondary ELA Classroom

15 Ways to Integrate Student Choice into the Secondary ELA Classroom

Student choice is  a cornerstone of student engagement.  When students can take charge of their learning and can pursue topics of interest, they will be more engaged and more inclined to do the work, and their work will become more meaningful.  We’ve all heard this time and again, but the practicality of doing this in today’s secondary public school classroom can be quite a challenge because of standardized testing.  Depending on where you teach and how you’re evaluated for your teaching position, testing may be the most important evaluative component, or not matter at all. 

Prompt Sticks Reflection Game: An Interactive Way to Reflect Back on the School Year

Prompt Sticks Reflection Game: An Interactive Way to Reflect Back on the School Year

There are lots of creative ways to facilitate reflection at the end of the school year.  Integrating novelty into any lesson makes it more interesting, and the same concept applies to reflection questions.

Tone Tunes: Using Music to Teach Tone in Poetry

Tone Tunes: Using Music to Teach Tone in Poetry

Being able to decipher the tone of a piece of writing is crucial to being able to decipher the thematic message of a text.  This is absolutely true for analyzing poetry.

The Art of the One-Pager

The Art of the One-Pager

One-pagers are all the rage these days. When students process their learning in this fun visual style, the results are powerful.

National Poetry Month: A WHOLE MONTH of Poetry Activities for Secondary ELA

National Poetry Month:  A WHOLE MONTH of Poetry Activities for Secondary ELA

Love it or hate it, poetry is unavoidable in the secondary ELA classroom.  I, for one, am a HUGE lover of poetry but fully acknowledge that it can be annoyingly cryptic at times.  Reading poetry reminds us that not all texts are meant to be beat "with a hose to find out what [they] really mean" like in the Billy Collins poem "Introduction to Poetry." 

Satire Through Subtlety-- Using the Comics of Savage Chickens to Teach Satire in High School English

Satire Through Subtlety-- Using the Comics of Savage Chickens to Teach Satire in High School English

I am a HUGE fan of Doug Savage's Savage Chickens "comics."  Savage Chickens is a single-frame comic drawn on a sticky note that illustrates the life of chickens whose experiences reveal the "savage" truths of the human existence.

Plagiarism Escape Room: A High-Interest Way to STOP Student Cheating

Plagiarism Escape Room:  A High-Interest Way to STOP Student Cheating

You’ll be kicked out of college!  You’ll never be able to have a well-defended argument!  It's just dishonest!  Each of my writing units begins with sharp warnings about plagiarism. 

Jack the Ripper + "Mack the Knife": A Lesson on Deciphering Tone and Bias Through Diction

Jack the Ripper + "Mack the Knife": A Lesson on Deciphering Tone and Bias Through Diction

In this lesson, the students first read a series news article written about Jack the Ripper from The London Times, late 1800s, and they identified the tone of the articles.