Menu

Our BLOG ARCHIVE

3 Powerful Songs for Women's History Month with headphones and a microphone

3 Powerful Songs for Women’s History Month

Want empowering songs for Women’s History Month to incorporate into your secondary ELA curriculum? We’ve got you covered, teacher pals. March is Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate and reflect on the contributions of women throughout history. Although we have a beautiful poster set and a literary activity bundle for Women’s History Month, we are talking MUSIC today. As educators, we have a unique opportunity to integrate this celebration into our classrooms. Music is a powerful tool for engagement and learning, so here are 3 exceptional songs that not only resonate with the themes of Women’s History Month but also offer rich content for literary analysis and classroom discussion.  These songs, each by influential female artists, provide a diverse range of perspectives and themes that can enrich your curriculum and inspire your students. Let’s

Read More »
Holiday song analysis activity

Unwrap Literary Magic with a Comparative Holiday Song Analysis Activity

‘Tis the season for festive tunes and merry moments with this ELA comparative holiday song analysis activity! If you’re looking for a holiday song analysis activity that is festive yet secular, I’ve got you! In this post, I outline how students can compare two secular songs that are perfect for the “cozy cup of coco in front of a cutie book tree” winter season vibe. A Comparative Holiday Song Analysis Sesame Street’s “Holiday Song” Ingrid Michaelson & Sara Bareilles’ “Winter Song” Both songs focus on winter and the holiday season. They are not specific to one holiday or a religious practice and are chalk full of literary analysis opportunities!  Give students an opportunity to engage in a first- and second-watch of both videos. If possible, provide a digital or printed copy of the lyrics, so they

Read More »
Use any of these 7 short texts for Immigrant Heritage Month in the class to honor and highlight immigration stories often left untold. Image of Muslim adults holding two small children on their laps smiling

Include 7 unforgettable short texts for Immigrant Heritage Month in the class this June

As a child of Lebanese and Syrian immigrants, I understand the power of sharing (and listening to) immigration stories. So often, immigrant families have learned to live in fear and, therefore, in silence; as a result, their powerful voices and rich history don’t often find their way into mainstream curricula. That’s why I am encouraging you to incorporate any (or all) of these 7 short texts for Immigrant Heritage Month this June! In doing so, you can honor and highlight immigration stories often left untold and give space to help your students and their families feel seen and celebrated! Where do you START? Depending on your students, pose the questions below as an anticipatory entrance ticket. Then, you can have students research facts about Immigrant Heritage Month in the class or use the facts on

Read More »
5 songs with literary devices by AAPI artists to analyze in secondary ELA is written with a blue overlay of a DJ turntable

Diversifying education with music: 5 popular songs with literary devices by AAPI artists

Looking for a fresh way to introduce students to AAPI creative works? Examine these five diverse songs with literary devices by AAPI artists and make learning more engaging in secondary ELA classrooms! We’re all about using songs as a tool to teach valuable literary concepts, especially with figurative language. My kids always have their headphones in their ears anyway, so why not try to make their learning more attuned to their interests? Here are some easy tips to keep in mind when incorporating music into your curriculum:1. Use it as an opportunity to elevate voices of color and their experiences 2. Keep it appropriate (I’m going to age myself by saying…”the music nowadays,” but it’s true) 3. Make it purposeful – don’t incorporate music just to do it. Figure out what skill you want them

Read More »
teaching about cultural appropriation using Elvis

A Dynamic Exploration of Cultural Appropriation Through Literature and Pop Culture

Having conversations in your classroom about cultural appropriation can feel challenging. It doesn’t always have to be, though! With the right resources that are standards-aligned, your students can engage in evidence-based discourse.  For this post, I share a teaching idea you can implement to help students explore and understand the unjust practices of cultural appropriation. This relevant teaching idea centers on Elvis Presley’s appropriation of Black music and culture. Since the Elvis film recently came out, your students will immediately buy into this heavy, but necessary conversation. Essential Question: How does cultural appropriation negatively impact the marginalized communities involved? Please note: it is VITAL that you have established a respectful classroom culture. Without positive norms and relationships, any difficult conversation may not turn out as efficiently. Suggested Starting Points ✨ As students enter class, have

Read More »
3 songs to pair with Romeo and Juliet activity - two pages of a book fold to shape into a heart with a red background

3 Aligned Song Pairings for an Innovative Romeo and Juliet Activity

How do YOU introduce students to Romeo and Juliet? Are you looking for an engaging Romeo and Juliet activity to start, center, and end your unit?  If you are like me–tired of fighting the never-ending battle of AirPods in my students’ ears–then, I have advice for you. Stop fighting it, and embrace it. Incorporate activities where students have the chance to analyze music.  Using music will boost student engagement AND give you a much-needed break from pleading, “Put away your headphones!” It will also help demystify Shakespearean language and the stigma that all of his works are difficult, boring, or irrelevant to our students’ worlds. Use the 3 contemporary song pairings below to incorporate music when teaching Romeo and Juliet. Each diverse song is used as a Romeo and Juliet activity to start, center, and

Read More »

6 Song-Inspired Black History Month Activities in ELA

Music is a great way to connect with students! These Black History Month activities explore history, social justice, cultural lenses, & more. Music in the classroom is not only highly engaging for students. It’s also great for helping students connect emotionally with people and cultures that have different perspectives from them. These lyrics alone provide lessons on countless poetic devices and ELA concepts, but I have paired an extension activity with each song to help students dig deeper. Songs to teach for Black History Month “For Women” by Talib Kweli “She tried to get it where she fit in, On that American Dream mission paid tuition, For the receipt to find out her history was missing and started flippin’, Seeing the world through very different eyes.” In this song, Kweli pulls inspiration from “Four Women”

Read More »

15 MORE TV Episodes to Use in ELA

After the popularity of my 2017 post, 15 TV Episodes to Use In ELA, I thought it was time for an update. That was 3 years ago, after all! Tons of exceptional new shows have come out, I’ve discovered shows that are “new to me,” and gotten reacquainted with some old favorites. Using TV episodes in ELA  can be more than just a reward (although that’s okay too!). Television can be a great way to introduce new concepts or review old topics, in an engaging, bite-sized format. Using TV to practice critical writing can be a distance learning asset or as part of a sub-plan. I have a TV Episode Review activity up in my TPT store if you’re looking for something like that 🙂 I also have a new resource (2023) that has 15

Read More »

15 More Songs for Teaching ELA

Song lyrics can be so versatile in the classroom: Creative writing inspiration, making non-fiction more engaging, etc. Here are 15 more songs for teaching 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 sequel 🙂 Like before I am linking to these songs on YouTube, but it’s not necessary for students to watch the videos. And as always, not all songs for teaching ELA will be appropriate for all classrooms; you know your students best 🙂 I also have a new resource (2023) that has 15 lesson plans analyzing pop culture short texts, like songs, TV episodes, short films, and more! Check out the 15 Pop Culture Analysis Activities resource

Read More »
A girls hand writing in a journal with the overlaid text "TED Talks to inspire Young Writers"

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. Videos can be an excellent opportunity for students to choose a concept they’ll focus on in their writing that day. If you enjoy using short texts, like TED Talks, I also have a new resource (2023) that has 15 lesson plans analyzing pop culture short texts, like TV episodes, songs, short films, and more! Check out the 15 Pop Culture Analysis Activities resource here. TED Talks for Young Writers Nnedi Okorafor – Sci-fi stories that

Read More »

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 to me. Where was our Beowulf? Our Odyssey?   Fast-forward a few years to my student-teaching in 2009, and the cinematic rise of superheroes had begun. DC had already launched a successful new Batman franchise with Christian Bale in the lead role, The Dark Knight breaking all kinds of box office records in the summer of 2008. Marvel had success with its first hit of the new age: Iron Man. Now, I could talk to

Read More »