Browsing Category : Teaching Ideas

Book Recommendations cover

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 Shakespeares Language cover

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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11 If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say Leila Sales cover

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say


  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: A Novel, Winter Halperin gets caught up in a storm of online…

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The Unrecommendable Book cover

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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Promoting Movement in the Classroom IG

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 Cover

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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Staged Readings in ELA cover

Staged Readings in ELA – A Play in 5 Days!


Using Staged Readings in ELA   It’s no secret that I love using drama in the ELA classroom, and I’m here today to advocate for using more rehearsed, scripted drama as you teach English. Maybe you’ve avoided this because it has seemed overwhelming. Maybe you think you don’t have enough time. Well, friends, you do! This post will help you…

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What are your favorite teacher things for secondary ELA? Favorite pens? Paper? Books? Laminators? Here's my list. (blog post at teachnouvelle.com)

Favorite Teacher Things


WIN Your Teacher Wish List!   What’s on your classroom wishlist? What are your favorite teacher things? Do you fantasize about that perfect set of pens, a classroom library that overflows, or the newest and greatest laminator on the market? Do you scroll through IG, envious of others’ classroom makeovers, or watch Oprah’s favorite things and droll?    Well, this…

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What can you do with five extra minutes in secondary ELA? Here are a few five-minute fillers for keeping your students focused until the bell. (blog post)

5-Minute Filler Activities for ELA


5-Minute Filler Activities for Secondary ELA   Although I’m getting pretty good at gauging time in my classes, sometimes, I end up with five extra minutes. When this happens, it’s really important for me to already have filler activities for ELA ready to go, so that I don’t waste the time. Here are some examples of things that have led…

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Get Students to Write More


Hi, everyone! In my post this week at the Secondary English Coffee Shop, I talk about how to get students to write more, without increasing your workload as a teacher. That’s kind of the dream, right? 🙂 You’ll be able to read more about using shared notebooks, daily journal writing, and even NaNoWriMo to create low-risk opportunities for your students…

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Using television in the classroom can be a great way to engage students, while still teaching the standards. Here are 15 TV episodes to use in ELA to teach genre, narrative techniques, characterization, and much more. Blog post from teachnouvelle.com.

15 TV Episodes to Use in ELA


Plot, structure, characterization, allusions, foreshadowing… all of the things we work to teach our students are found in many different mediums. We’re in a Golden Age of quality television, and the English classroom is a great place to introduce students to television with real depth and literary value. Here are 15 TV episodes to use in ELA.   Disclaimer: This…

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Here are some of my favorite resources and ideas for teaching short stories in middle school and high school. Teaching short stories can be a great way to build student confidence and endurance with a number of skills. These texts span all genres and are hugely versatile – teach them as a unit or woven in with other texts throughout the year. (blog post)

Teaching Short Stories: Innovate & Engage


You gingerly lift a new arrival off the shelf and flip it open, trailing your finger across the printed page. You imagine yourself sipping an espresso as you thumb through the pages, savoring every plot point and befriending new characters.   …and then someone hands you a worksheet.   Did the bookstore fantasy crash down around you? Yeah, I thought…

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Do you want to host a classroom author chat? It’s a great way to get your students invested in reading and writing. They can see the real-world person behind the work, learn about an author’s craft, and ask their most pressing questions as a reader. (Read more at the blog)

Host a Classroom Author Chat


How would you like to chat with an author whose work you love? Well, your students definitely would, too! Setting up a classroom Author Chat seems like a daunting, impossible task, but I’m here to tell you that it’s TOTALLY POSSIBLE. With a little boldness, you can make your dreams for a classroom Author Chat a reality!   Last year,…

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Here are three tips for grading interactive notebooks quickly and easily, even in a high school ELA classroom. This blog post contains actionable steps you can take today, along with a freebie to focus your grading. (teachnouvelle.com)

Grading Interactive Notebooks


I love using Interactive Notebooks in high school and sharing this love with others. Still, the number one question that I get from teachers is how to manage grading Interactive Notebooks without letting it take over your life. I’m here today to tell you that it is possible, as long as you set yourself up for success. Here are some…

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Using music in the secondary classroom is a great way to engage students, so here are some songs to use in ELA, and some ways to use them. (Blog post)

15 Songs to Use in ELA


Want to expose students to new songs, or make them think about old songs in a completely new way? Using music in the classroom is a great way to engage students, so here are some songs to use in ELA, and some ways to use them.     I’m going to link to the YouTube videos of these songs for…

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Want to find Secondary ELA teachers to connect with on Instagram? These amazing accounts are a great place to get started building your educational community on IG. (Blog post at teachnouvelle.com)

The Best Secondary ELA Instagram Accounts to Follow


It can be isolating being a teacher. Maybe you’re the only one teaching Romeo & Juliet in your building, or maybe you really want to change this year’s spring novel and you have no one to turn to for fresh ideas. Whether you’re looking for classroom management strategies, decorating ideas, book recommendations, or a community that celebrates #feetupFriday, Instagram is…

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Using Escape Rooms in ELA is a great way to promote collaboration, critical thinking, and engagement. Students work together on a variety of tasks to find the necessary keys to escape. Learn more about how to develop and set up a successful escape room for your students.

Using Escape Rooms in ELA


The clock is ticking down and you can’t find the blacklight clue that will lead you to the last key… your friends and family are tossing the drawers and papers again, desperately trying to find the six-digit code for a lock, and the seconds are disappearing fast. Finally, it all comes together, and you open the door with thirty seconds…

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Putting on a class play is a lot of work, but it's hugely rewarding. Here are some tips for a successful show! Read more at teachnouvelle.com.

Class Play: A Successful Show


Now, let’s talk about the best part of doing a class play: the performance! This is the fourth part of my class play series, so be sure to check out the posts on Logistics & Prep, Filling Their Toolkit, and Evaluation Ideas. We had two performances of our class play, and this was a good amount for amateur student actors.…

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Book conferences are a great way to review students’ independent reading without a huge grading burden on the teacher. Check out these tips for quick and enriching book conferences. Blog post by teachnouvelle.com.

Book Conferences: Engaging and Simple


I love independent reading (or student-selected reading), and I love talking about books! It only makes good sense to me, then, to allow my students to show their growth in independent reading through book conferences. Book conferences are an informal conversation between the teacher and student to show completion of and reflection on a novel. I learned a lot from…

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Free End of the Year Gifts for Secondary Students. (resource round-up at teachnouvelle.com)

Student Gifts: Free End of Year Printables for Big Kids


I’ve teamed up with some amazing teachers to bring you free end of year gifts for secondary students. Check out all of the printables below and follow the links to get these resources free on TeachersPayTeachers. You can also check out these resources under the hashtag #EOYGiftsforBigKids! Puzzle Cards by Nouvelle ELA Flip-Flop Cards for Middle and High School by…

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Differentiating the Research Process for all learners is important, especially in ELA. Here are some ideas for creating engaging and accessible research opportunities. More at teachnouvelle.com. Blog post.

Differentiated Research Projects in ELA


If you love the idea of assigning differentiated research projects, but find the actual research process daunting, then this post is for you. Research projects can be a time of joy and exploration for your students, so here are my tips for making this something you can enjoy, too. These projects should be something open and accessible to all learners,…

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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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