Browsing Category : Teaching Ideas

15 MORE Songs for the ELA Classroom


Song lyrics can be so versatile in the classroom: Creative writing inspiration, making non-fiction more engaging, etc. Here are 15 more songs to use in ELA, and suggestions on how to use them.   Ask and you shall receive! My other post, 15 Songs to Use in ELA has gotten so much positive feedback that I decided to make a…

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Engaging Reluctant Readers with a Digital Adventure Game


We know that our reluctant readers have a skills deficit that grows over time. Whereas a student may be just one grade level behind in elementary school, that gap can grow if we don’t address the problem. By high school, a student who can’t read at grade level faces significant difficulties across content areas. Moreover, it becomes challenging to find…

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Teaching Executive Functioning with Escape Rooms


Have you been told you should be teaching executive functioning? Is this a totally overwhelming proposition? Where do you even start? Let’s break it down.       Teaching Executive Functioning   Executive Functioning is the complex way the brain ‘works’. We use these skills to make decisions, choices, and plans. When we use strong executive functioning, we work smarter.…

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TED Talks for Young Writers


Have you ever used videos to inspire your students to write? Here are some TED talks for young writers you’ll be able to use at different moments in your curriculum. As I‘ve mentioned before on this blog, I love the Writer‘s Workshop model! Each day includes a focusing mini-lesson, time to write and ponder, and time to share or conference.…

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Teaching Social Justice with Literature Circles


We read a lot of books with social issues for the YA Cafe Podcast, and I feature a lot of these books on my own Instagram. Because of this, teachers often ask me for resources for teaching social justice books. Today, I want to share some specific resources for teaching social justice literature circles.     Literature circles are classroom…

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Teaching LGBTQ+ Rights


Teachers on Instagram often ask me for tips on teaching LGBTQ+ rights. You want book recommendations, teaching resources, and ideas for increasing visibility and advocacy. Well, I’m here today to highlight one collaborative resource to get you started.     When my friend, Matt, from Surviving Social Studies shared his LGBTQ Painting Recreation, I knew I wanted to share it…

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Adding Physical Locks to Escape Rooms


Classroom Escape Rooms are collaborative games that make engaging review activities for students! Students work together to solve puzzles in order to be the first to “escape”. I’ve written a lot about using Escape Rooms in ELA before, and today I want to focus on just one aspect: adding physical locks to Escape Rooms.     Many teachers love the…

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Teaching the Great Gatsby: Building Background


Teaching The Great Gatsby can be transportive and engaging. Students explore a whole new era (Flappers! Jazz! Speakeasies!) while still making modern-day connections. To get the full impact of this American classic, however, students need to situate it within its historical context.     Building Context: The Post-War Era   Before teaching The Great Gatsby and the quirks of the…

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Pilu of the Woods (and Trauma-Informed Teaching)


Author H.D. Hunter joins Danielle for a discussion of Trauma-Informed Teaching and YA books that touch on grief, like Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. Nguyen. (Transcript)   In today’s episode… Pilu of the Woods is a graphic novel following an episode in Willow’s life after the death of her mother. After Willow gets in a fight with her…

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Including Superheroes in American Literature


When I took American Literature as a high schooler in 2003, we read a range of texts from colonial accounts to Puritan sermons to stories from the Great Depression. Even as a future English teacher, I hated the class. Where were our nation’s epics? I already viewed Huck Finn as passé and overrated, and The Grapes of Wrath never spoke…

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10 Gifts for English Teachers


If you’re looking for a gift for Teacher Appreciation Week or for the beloved English teacher in your life, you’ve come to the right place! Here’s a list of ten gifts for English teachers. I’ve chosen a range of items in terms of price, size, and seriousness, so I know you’ll find what you’re looking for. Enjoy!      …

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7 Ideas for Teaching Women’s History


When we arrive at March, we finally talk about teaching Women’s History. Even though it’s something we should integrate all year long (like Black History!), we rush to gather lesson plans in the busiest month of the year. Well, here are ideas you can use year-round to get your students talking and thinking.   Honestly, I used to wonder what…

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Teaching Shakespeare: a Conversation with David Rickert


I love teaching Shakespeare, and I LOVE discovering new and innovative ways to engage students in the material. I’ve talked before about teaching Shakespeare’s language or using abridged versions for in-class productions. I’ve even shared how my 9th graders put on a full production for the middle school! Today, I’m so excited to share about one more way I get…

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Teaching Argumentative Writing with Adam Ruins Everything


So, you’re teaching argumentative writing again, and you’re looking for something to spice up your unit. I have been there! And I have an idea to share!   Even though they LOVE to argue, teens aren’t always excited to write it down. Their eyes glaze over when you say the word “rhetoric”. I’ve talked before about teaching media literacy and…

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Book Review: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes


A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi   Tareq’s life is hustle and bustle in Syria. He goes to school, comes home to care for his twin baby brothers, and listens to his grandmother’s stories. But in a single moment, a bomb strikes and his world comes crashing down around him. Tareq and his little sister survive and travel…

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Poetry Escape Room grades 4-6

Poetry Escape Room for 4th-6th grades


I’ve talked before about using teaching with puzzles and games and using Escape Rooms in ELA, but I thought I’d address using escape rooms in upper elementary. Our 4th, 5th, and 6th graders can definitely benefit from collaboration and critical thinking, which is why I made a Poetry Escape Room for that level. Check it out:     Some things…

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Resources for Teaching About Immigration


Teaching about immigration can be intimidating for a someone without personal experience, but it’s an important topic to tackle with our students. Learning about immigration stories builds empathy and a desire to be a catalyst for positive change. Here are some resources I’ve used in my classroom to spark conversations.   This post uses affiliate links. This doesn’t affect the…

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Teaching Photo Analysis to Build Text Connections


If your students struggle making deep connections to a text, look no further than Photo Analysis. Students analyze each photo as a text. You’ll provide students with necessary domain vocabulary and principles, but they’ll learn to trust their intuition and develop confidence as analysts.     Why Photo Analysis?   Photo Analysis is a great introduction to analyzing a wider…

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7 Science Fiction Poems for Secondary ELA


Using science fiction poems (or speculative poems) in the classroom can be a great way for students to build a deeper understanding of the genre. Students often have a very narrow understanding of science fiction (limiting it to perhaps one or two television shows or movies), and we can help them extend this. Additionally, this particular genre will show students…

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7 Real-Life Utopias to Research in Secondary ELA


The Giver. The Hunger Games. Matched. Unwind. Feed. Teaching dystopian literature can be a great way to expose students to types of government and societal control. Dystopian novels often begin with something that seems like a utopia, though. Everything seems great before the protagonist sees the strings that control the system. The Giver seems great until Jonas realizes what’s being…

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Making Successful Book Recommendations


The #1 Thing Students Need to Know When You Recommend a Book   Reggie sits at his desk during SSR, drumming his fingers on the table. He reads for five minutes, but then takes his book back to your classroom library and wants to exchange it for another. It seems like Reggie never gets more than a quarter of the…

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Teaching Shakespeare’s Language: Thou & You


Thou & You: Rank and Emotion   My students know well in advance that I love teaching Shakespeare and drama, so they’re a little surprised when they confront Shakespeare’s language. They always assume I’m some sort of super genius if I can possibly understand that. Who could possibly understand all of those thous and wherefores and yons? Well, I’m not…

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Free Books for the Classroom Library

How to Get Free Books for Your Classroom Library


Build a Classroom Library with FREE Books!   If you want to add new releases to your classroom library without breaking the bank, you’ve come to the right place. It can be a challenge keeping up with new books and is it really worth investing in titles before you even know if your students will like them? In this post, I’ll share…

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If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say by Leila Sales


  We take a look at online shaming and Leila Sales’ new novel, If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say. Join us this week on the YA Cafe. (transcript)   In today’s episode…   In Leila Sales’ newest novel, If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, Winter Halperin gets caught up in a storm of online shaming after…

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Subversive Literature: The Unrecommendable Book


So, like you, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to get my teenage students to love reading and writing. I spend a lot of time recommending books to teachers to help get their teenage students to love reading. I even started a podcast to help teachers, librarians, and students find new YA titles they’ll love. In short,…

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Movement in the Classroom: Why My Students Don’t Have to Sit Still


Y’all, I can’t sit still. Throw me in a long meeting or even a long movie, and I struggle. I wasn’t wiggly in high school, but I now I need to move around more. If I can’t sit still, my students shouldn’t have to, either. That’s why I’m a huge advocate of movement in the classroom.   The Case for Movement…

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Creative Reading Cover

Creative Reading


Spark Imagination with Creative Reading   We spend a LOT of time reading books and watching TV and movies in our household, and one game we love to play is “what if”. What if the ending had been different? The characters had had a stronger motivation? The main conflict had been more believable? This is what I call creative reading.…

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Create a Winning Teaching Portfolio


Teachers, it’s that time of year again. You’ve been handed a piece of paper called an Intent Form and you must decide whether you want to return to your job next year or seek greener pastures. Or, if you’re a student teacher, you’re thinking about where you’ll teach in the fall. Either way, it’s time to dust off your Teaching…

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Tips for Teaching Shakespeare


Teaching Shakespeare: Tips & Tricks   Teaching Shakespeare can be a tricky prospect, but here are some tips to help you and your students get the most out of your unit. Students have very different reactions to Shakespeare based on their experiences and expectations. I want to advocate for teaching Shakespeare through performance, and I’ll be talking more about that…

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Shakespeare in 30

The Team Behind Shakespeare in 30


Introducing Danielle & Michelle, Shakespeare in 30 Creators   So, I recently worked with my friend Michelle to release a collection of plays to use in the ELA Classroom called Shakespeare in 30. Since we collaborated on this project, I thought I’d take the time to talk a bit about us and how we met. It’s weird for an introvert…

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