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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.

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.  

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.

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.

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. 

Thanksgiving & Abraham Lincoln: A Rhetorical Analysis Activity

Thanksgiving & Abraham Lincoln:  A Rhetorical Analysis Activity

For Thanksgiving this year, I decided to go back to the roots of our celebrated "Turkey Day" to address the fact that the original Thanksgiving had nothing to do with pilgrims or turkeys at all.

The Logline: A Screenwriting Tool for Text Analysis

The Logline:  A Screenwriting Tool for Text Analysis

In screenwriting (writing for movies and TV), the logline is key to brainstorming story ideas and also selling them or "pitching" them to buyers.  Crafting loglines can help the writer to flesh out new plot ideas before writing the entire script.  It's much easier to revise the logline rather than an entire hundred page script!  

5 Pixar Short Films to Use in Secondary ELA

5 Pixar Short Films to Use in Secondary ELA

Pixar short films made their debut in the early 1980's as Disney made the transition into computer animation technology.  Appearing as introductions to to feature films, Disney Pixar shorts have become some of the most highly anticipated aspects of feature film releases.

20 Great Quotes to use as Mentor Sentences in Secondary ELA

20 Great Quotes to use as Mentor Sentences in Secondary ELA

One of the best ways to teach students how to integrate literary and rhetorical devices into their writing is to imitate the style of great writers.  

Here are 20 Great Literary Quotes to use as Mentor Sentences in Secondary ELA...

Setting up & Assessing Book Club in Secondary ELA: FOUR FREE GUIDES FOR SUCCESS!

Setting up & Assessing Book Club in Secondary ELA:  FOUR FREE GUIDES FOR SUCCESS!

Book club is now considered to be one of the “best practices” in English Language Arts.  Book clubs differ from traditional literary circles in that they are less teacher-directed.  The students take on the responsibility of selecting their roles, making their assignments, keeping track of their reading, and much more. 

Secondary ELA Book Club: A Menu of Options

Secondary ELA Book Club:  A Menu of Options

The first rule of Book Club is:  you do not talk about Book Club.  The second rule of Book Club is:  you DO NOT talk about Book Club!  Kidding.  The only rule of Book Club is: DO IT...

The Romantics vs. the Imagists: A Comparison of Two Different Styles

The Romantics vs. the Imagists:  A Comparison of Two Different Styles

Contrasting literary movements as a pedagogical approach to teaching literature is a debatable method, but I have found that juxtaposing literary movements...

The Complex Themes of Winter Poetry: Creating a Winter Poetry Unit for Secondary ELA

The Complex Themes of Winter Poetry:  Creating a Winter Poetry Unit for Secondary ELA

This winter season, I found myself missing the snow for the first time in my life because we made a big move from a cold climate where we have lived for the past six years to a warm climate where there is no snow.  I never fully realized... 

3 Annotations for Deeper Reading

3 Annotations for Deeper Reading

Active and purposeful highlighting and annotating is an important skill that can enable greater success in being able to comprehend a text.  Of course, there is an ongoing conversation as to whether or not highlighting in particular detracts from comprehension...