Dealing with grief in the classroom can be challenging for a teacher, but having a plan will help you be an effective support for your students. (Blog Post)

Grief in the Classroom


When you sit down to plan your lessons for the day, week, or year, you don’t want to think about what you’ll do if tragedy strikes. Grief and pain are as much a part of our lives as joy and learning, but we don’t like to think about them. However, it’s important that we, as teachers, are prepared to deal…

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Effective rubrics are clear and well-designed, and can help increase feedback to students and decrease grading time. Check out this blog post to figure out which rubric style works for you.

Rubrics 101: Improve Communication and Efficiency


I’ve talked before about why I stopped writing on student papers, but today I want to talk about an important tool I used to be able to do that: rubrics. A rubric is a grid that expresses your expectations for an assignment using concrete, achievable descriptors. The biggest time-saving device you can have in your classroom is a good rubric.…

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Pop Culture in ELA Every year, I surprise my students by pulling pop culture into the ELA classroom. They act surprised at first and seem to think that I’m pulling their leg or making fun of them, but that it far from the case. It’s important to use pop culture in ELA because it helps students understand why they’re studying English in the first place. Let’s back up. Why is English class important? There are many possible answers here – teaching students to communicate, helping students explore classics, exposing students to a wide range of stories, etc. I firmly believe that understanding archetypes, language, and form will help students connect to a cultural heritage (or several!) and make them better humans through empathy. If we can walk around in a character’s skin, we are one step closer to understanding another human and thus one step closer to world peace. Yeah, that’s a lot of pressure to put on an ELA teacher. I think that storytelling in any form is a great joy and that words have amazing power. I am obsessed with Shakespeare and T.S. Eliot, but I’m also obsessed with Ke$ha and Avatar: The Last Airbender and anything Kiera Cass has written. We are shaped by the intersections of these stories, and that’s why it’s so important to include pop culture in ELA. Consider this Ke$ha lyric: “Dirt and glitter cover the floor. We pretty and sick. We’re young and we’re bored.” This lyric is so beautiful and evocative to me, and I’ve had this line go through my head while reading E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars as well as Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death”. I think students deserve to know that, instead of me pretending that Ke$ha is not a brilliant storyteller just because she’s not in the cultural canon (yet). We need to validate the stories and we need to validate the knowledge. It may take a long time for your 10th graders to connect to Hester Prynne, but they may connect more quickly to Alex Parrish from Quantico or any of the handful of ostracized characters in Gossip Girl. Another great tool for using pop culture in ELA and really honing students’ awareness of any genre is by using tropes. A trope is any overused theme or device, and once you see one, you can’t unsee one. A great source for starting to explore these with (older) students is TV Tropes. For example, consider the trope “Helmets Are Hardly Heroic”: “In any work where a hero wears armor, whether powered or otherwise, the helmet is almost never worn even in combat. In Real Life the helmet is the most important piece of personal armor ever invented besides the shield, since the skull and the brain inside are highly vulnerable to all kinds of weapon blows and projectiles. So why does a character who has access to a helmet rarely use it?” -from TV Tropes First, start by simply proposing the idea to your students and see if they can name some examples from movies and television. Then, use this to segue into a bigger conversation of the role of stories: *Why would directors make this no-helmets choice? *Why does the audience suspend their disbelief (or not)? *What would change if heroes did wear helmets? Lastly, you can use pop culture in ELA very deliberately by using games. I LOVE trivia, so I have an ongoing trivia game to use with my students. You can find this game in my TeachersPayTeachers store. What are your favorite ways to use pop culture in ELA? Leave your ideas in comments and be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter!

Pop Culture in ELA: Infuse Your Lessons


Every year, I surprise my students by using pop culture in ELA. They act surprised at first and seem to think that I’m pulling their leg or making fun of them, but that it far from the case. It’s important to use pop culture in ELA because it helps students understand why they’re studying English in the first place. Let’s…

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Poetry Speed-dating is a great way to hook students' interest in poetry. Plan a day to let them browse and enjoy poetry books. More information and recommendations at the blog post at teachnouvelle.com.

Poetry Speed-Dating


I love poetry, and I always want to share that love of poetry with students. Last year, I decided to add a new element to my poetry unit, Poetry Speed-dating. This simple activity allows students to explore some poetry in a low-stakes way. Set Up Poetry Speed-Dating The set-up is simple. Find a variety of poetry books and anthologies for…

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Teach Public Speaking with small group presentations. Smaller audiences boost speaker confidence, keep audience members engaged and accountable, and improve usage of class time. Blog post.

Teach Public Speaking with Small Group Presentations


Public Speaking is an important skill for middle schoolers and high schoolers to develop, and some of them embrace the opportunity. For others, though, public speaking can be so daunting as to actually cause fear and nausea. How can we help our students develop public speaking and listening skills while still being respectful of their feelings? Small group presentations. Rethinking…

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Make grading easier by only writing on the rubric. By writing focused comments on the rubric, you'll reduce your grading time while still assuring that your students receive valuable feedback. Read more at the blog post.

Make Grading Easier


I used to live in constant dread of my grading load, struggling under the weight of it all. I thought that to be a good teacher, I had to write copious amounts of feedback and notes on my students’ papers. In an effort to make grading easier, I stopped writing on student papers. In this post, I’ll talk about why…

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Help students understand Shakespeare's Language by breaking down the process. Use these engaging activities to introduce the vocabulary, grammar, and rhythms used in his language. Students will also explore Shakespeare's influence on the English language and do some translation. Blog post.

Teaching Shakespeare’s Language


Introducing Shakespeare’s Language Understanding Shakespeare’s Language can seem like a daunting task for students, and many of them give up on a great story because of language that seems too difficult for them. I have always loved Shakespeare’s language (that should have been an early clue that I was bound to be a linguist and an English teacher!), so I…

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How to download product updates for TeachersPayTeachers products. Video blog.

Download TpT Product Updates


How to Download TeachersPayTeachers Product Updates Do you have a resource that you purchased two or three years ago on TeachersPayTeachers? Are you wondering if there’s a product update that you could download? The teacher-author may have fixed some typos or even made major changes like adding several pages of activities! TeachersPayTeachers does not send out an email every time…

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Persuasive Techniques and Media Literacy


Persuasive Techniques & Critical Thinking I’ve taught persuasive techniques every year, but it feels more necessary than ever for our students to develop media literacy. Can they judge the worth (and truth) of the information presented to them? Can they identify how a speaker could be manipulating their emotions and instincts? I’ve teamed up with a group of teacher-authors from…

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Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "What is Your Life's Blueprint?" speech urges us to stand up and get going! This speech is perfect for motivating middle school and high school students (and teachers, too!) to take action and choose a direction for their lives. Blog post from teachnouvelle.com.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Taking Action


Teaching & Learning with Martin Luther King Jr. If you need a motivational, reflective activity, you’ve come to the right place. One of my favorite ways to challenge my students to set goals is to listen to inspirational speakers. This is an excellent opportunity to use Martin Luther King Jr.’s classic “What is Your Life’s Blueprint?” speech to get students…

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Using puzzles and games in high school ELA is a great way to develop a growth mindset, challenge both sides of the brain, and encourage collaboration and critical thinking. Discover three ways to challenge your students at teachnouvelle.com.

Using Puzzles in High School ELA


Using puzzles and games in the high school classroom is a great way to build collaboration, critical thinking, and a growth mindset. Puzzles can be particularly powerful in the ELA classroom because they allow students to approach words logically, mathematically, and visually, creating cross-brain connections. Okay, so it’s true: I love puzzles! I’m excellent at some types (jigsaw puzzles) and…

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It can be challenging to keep students focused and engaged before the Winter Break, but these five tips will help you succeed! Save yourself stress and fatigue and check out these tricks today. Blog post includes a holiday gift freebie!

5 Tips for Teaching before Winter Break


Tips to Save Your Sanity Before Winter Break Teaching in the weeks leading up to Winter Break can be a challenge, you can save your sanity by following a few key tips. It can be hard to keep students’ attention before the holidays: they’re tired, we’re tired, and we all just want to push through. Plus, with various “treats” throughout…

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Using Interactive Notebooks to teach class novels can be rigorous and engaging, even for middle and high school. Here are some tips and tricks for setting up your novel units. Read more at teachnouvelle.com

Teach a Class Novel with Interactive Notebooks


Do you love the idea of Interactive Notebooks but are unsure of how to use them to teach class novels? Stay tuned for my best tips and tricks for designing rigorous and engaging class novel units. I am a huge proponent of using Interactive Student Notebooks (ISNs, INBs, INs) in high school. I love them for the ease of structuring…

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Expose your secondary students to a wide range of classic poetry using these engaging bellringers! Students create and analyze, finding fun and meaning in each of these thirty class poems.

Use Bellringers to Help Students Love Poetry


Today, I’m teaming up with some amazing Secondary ELA sellers on TpT to share our best resources with you! My best resource on TeachersPayTeachers is a set of Poetry Bellringers. I created this resource as a way to help teachers share several classic poems with students in a short amount of time. Also, since each activity is a Bellringer, or…

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A Writer's Workshop model can be a great way to engage students in the writing and revising process. Writing a short story will help students strengthen their understanding of the elements of fiction, develop analytical skills, and give helpful peer feedback.

Writer’s Workshop: Short Stories in High School


Last fall, I did a Writer’s Workshop with my 9th graders to help them write their own short stories. We did this as part of our Dystopian unit, but the process works with any genre. In this post, I’ll cover the Writer’s Workshop process in my classroom, how I manage the reading load, and things I am still trying to…

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Whether you are a first-year teacher, a military spouse, or a veteran teacher moving to a new job, being the new teacher in a school can be intimidating. Check out this blog post for tips to succeed as the new teacher on the block. From teachnouvelle.com.

Succeed as the New Teacher


Rockin’ It as the New Teacher Whether you are a first-year teacher, a military spouse who’s always on the move, or a veteran teacher switching districts, there are times when it’s necessary to be a new teacher in a building. Here are some tips for new teachers that I’ve learned after five years of teaching in as many schools. Through…

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Evaluating drama can be tricky, but in the ELA classroom, it's important to still hold students accountable. Here's how I assess a variety of skills. This is a mix of objective and subjective assessments every step of the way in the process of putting together a class play. This is applicable for every drama activity in the ELA classroom.

Evaluating Drama in the ELA Classroom


So, you’re considering doing a Class Play or you’ve started practices. Now, you’re wondering how to get students really working and eventually evaluate them. But how do you go about evaluating drama? It’s a process, right? It’s subjective, I hear you saying. Read on to see how I graded students on their effort and achievement in the class play. In…

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The Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles is a perfect opportunity for integrated learning. Prince Ailani's journey unfolds against a backdrop of Hawaiian culture, history, and earth science. Learn more about using this book in your curriculum at teachnouvelle.com.

Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles


Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles Description from Goodreads: The Kingdom of Oceana SURFER. SHARK TAMER. FIRE WALKER. EXPLORER. TEENAGER. HERO. Five centuries ago, on the island now called Hawaii, there was a kingdom filled with adventure, Beauty, and Magic. When 16-year-old Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa trespass on a forbidden burial ground and uncover an ancient tiki mask,…

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Simplify your back to school routines with color coding. This classroom management strategy will help you and your students stay organized throughout the school year. Check out more tips and resources at teachnouvelle.com.

Color Coding Your Classroom


Back to School can be a stressful time, but with the right tips, resources, and mindset, we can all have an amazing start to the school year! A huge time-saving idea is color coding your classroom. A Back to School Classroom Management Tip: Color Coding Your Classroom If you’re like me, it can take a while to learn every student’s…

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I finally nailed teaching symbolism to my students! Using candy was both efficient and engaging, and they kept referencing this lesson for the rest of the year. This strong foundation really helped their literary analysis skills. TeachNouvelle.com

Teaching Symbolism with Candy


I have been reflecting on my favorite lessons from the school year, and one of the most fun and effective was teaching symbolism with Tootsie Roll Pops! Not only were the students enthusiastic about eating the candy (because aren’t they always?), they really grasped the concept of analyzing a symbol. We were nearing Halloween and deep in our Short Stories…

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The end of school can be crazy, but check out this blog hop full of tips for Calming the Year End Chaos. Tip #8 from Danielle @ Nouvelle: Drama Games!

Calming the Year End Chaos: Tips for Success


Calming the Chaos at the End of the School Year Hello, all! We just had our final exam today, but I know that many of you are still guiding students through the end of the year. It can be a crazy time, and here’s an idea of how I calm the year end chaos. Keep reading to the end to find…

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Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood - Book reviews that you can use to build your library.

Books to Read, Love, and Share: Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood


  Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood Ivy grew up in her great-grandmother’s house under the constant gaze of old portraits of distinguished Milbourn women and wrapped in the dust of old prizes and journals. She comes from a long line of bright and brief stars, each taken too soon by mental illness or murder. Her grandfather pushes her to find…

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How to Deal with Irritation in Rehearsal - Ways to Cope & Resolve the stress of directing a high school production.

How to Deal with Irritation in Rehearsal


When You Get Irritated in Rehearsal We are in the last few days of rehearsal for our Spring Musical, and I’ve been thinking about irritation a lot. I’ve been getting and trying to reflect on what makes me so (INFJs for the win!). I got home today from our big Saturday practice (9-3, phew!), and saw that Lisa and Jonathan…

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Fifteen Lanes by S. J. Laidlaw - Book reviews to help you build your classroom library.

Books to Read, Love, and Share: Fifteen Lanes by S. J. Laidlaw


  Fifteen Lanes by S. J. Laidlaw Noor, the daughter of a sex worker, has grown up in a brothel through hardship, cruelty, and sadness. Grace, the daughter of a successful CEO, has her reputation tarnished by a vicious bout of cyber-bullying and spirals into depression. Can these very different girls learn from each other and eventually save one another?…

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Drama in the ELA Classroom - Build your students' competence and confidence with these basic drama skills.

Building Drama Know-How in ELA


Drama Skills for the Class Play In the last post, I talked about casting the class play. Now, I want to talk about developing basic drama skills. This will encourage engagement from all students, all the time. This is something that I struggled with in the beginning, but I developed some tools to help my students. If you’re like me,…

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How to Set Up and Cast the Class Play - Use these tips to help integrate Drama in the ELA classroom.

How to Set Up and Cast the Class Play


Drama in ELA: The Class Play In this series, I’m going to share my experiences integrating Drama in ELA and producing a class play with my 9th grade English class. Drama is so engaging for students, but is often put aside because it seems like a lot of work or doesn’t obviously correlate to higher test scores. In this series,…

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Found Poetry for Fiction & Non-Fiction


In addition to studying poetry during National Poetry Month in April, I love integrating poetry throughout the school year. A favorite resource I use to engage my students in literature is Found Poetry! You can do this with any class novel or independent reading, and it’s a way for students to seek many “correct” answers. This is a fun, no-pressure approach…

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Drama in the ELA Classroom: Improv Games


3 Games to Introduce Drama in the ELA Classroom I have loved drama since my 3rd grade class got to be Arabian dancers in the school’s performance of “The Nutcracker”. When I was in middle and high school, I always wanted to do “acting” options for projects, sometimes asking my teachers ridiculous things like “can I show you the parts…

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Reviews at TeachNouvelle: The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry

Books to Read, Love, and Share: The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry


  The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry Natalie’s last summer before college is off to a fine start, except that she has to drive her siblings around and her best friend is off at soccer camp. Then, Natalie starts seeing things that can’t possibly exist: houses that weren’t there before, friends who don’t even recognize her, and…

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Underwater by Marisa Reichardt

Books to Read, Love, and Share: Underwater by Marisa Reichardt


  Underwater by Marisa Reichardt After a terrible tragedy, Morgan is too afraid to leave her apartment. She casts aside friends and hobbies for life as a shut-in. However, her brother just got cast in a play and a new boy, Evan, has just moved in next door. Now, more than ever, she longs to take the first step back…

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