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.
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.
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.
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.
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."