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.
 

Famous Love Letters: A Unique Approach to Rhetorical Analysis and Creative Writing for Valentine's Day

Famous Love Letters:  A Unique Approach to Rhetorical Analysis and Creative Writing for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is a polarizing holiday-- people either love it or hate it.  But no matter how you feel about the holiday, Valentine's Day provides an opportunity for students to focus on the most powerful emotion behind literature and art:  LOVE. 

The Five Most Important Argumentative Essay Topics of 2018

The Five Most Important Argumentative Essay Topics of 2018

As we kickoff 2018, the media is already reporting upon key issues that will define the new year.  These issues include women's rights, sexual harassment, DACA, the tax code, healthcare, unions, prescription drug abuse, cryptocurrency, and many others. 

10 Essential Writing Workshop Supplies from Amazon

10 Essential Writing Workshop Supplies from Amazon

Running an effective writing workshop can be a challenge on its own, but there are some supplies that can keep the writing process organized and effective for you and your students.  Here, I've compiled a list of my essential writing workshop supplies to get you through the rest of the year!

6 Christmas Commercials to Analyze this Holiday Season

6 Christmas Commercials to Analyze this Holiday Season

The Christmas holiday season is the most popular retail season of the year.  Companies hire ad agencies to compete against all of the sales of the season in order to attract attention to their products and services.

Three Famous Christmas Speeches to Inspire Writing

Three Famous Christmas Speeches to Inspire Writing

It's the "most wonderful time of the year" once again!  Every year, the holiday season inspires new movie ideas, and some of these movies go on to become some of the most beloved films of all time with some of the most well-known movie speeches in film history.