By Geraldine Woods
Making New Year’s resolutions has never made sense to me. Exhausted by holiday celebrations and dismayed by the prospect of slogging through a Northeastern winter, on January 1st I barely have enough energy to turn a calendar page. But that first day of summer! That’s when my mind churns with possibilities that morph into resolutions: This summer I’ll learn to quilt, take up tennis, reorganize my linen closet and . . . well, if activities were food, let’s just say I plan a banquet.
Continue reading “Summer Reading Resolutions: Read Outside Your Field”
By Thomas Courtney
Are your students out of the habit of reading “real” books? I have noticed that although many of my own students are flat-out thrilled to be back in the classroom, some have been dragging their heels when it comes to good, old-fashioned, printed-page literature. It makes sense; after a year and a half (or more) of working on laptops with the newest apps and educational games, it can be a jarring transition back to books, pencils, and paper. While there’s always an element of the reluctant reader syndrome in our classrooms, I and many of my colleagues are finding it particularly difficult this school year to guide our reluctant readers back into a great book.
Continue reading “Four Gateway Books for Reluctant Readers”
By Sharon Kunde
In addition to resting and recharging, the weeks leading up to the New Year are a perfect time for reflecting on our practices as educators. This year, I encourage ELA teachers to consider the diversity of the authors and works represented in their syllabi. Teachers who seek greater diversity when planning an English Language Arts syllabus may face a number of hurdles, including lack of time in an already jam-packed curriculum, difficulty in choosing between an abundance of options, or a lack of knowledge of what options there may be. Below, I explore a list of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early-twentieth century poems by African American authors that can easily be included in existing secondary classroom syllabi, or that could form the backbone of a more involved unit-long or semester-long course of study.
Continue reading “Diversifying Your ELA Curriculum in 2022”
By Jonna Kuskey
Our high school, like many across the nation, has eliminated its library. To fill this void, our English department has worked intensely over the past several years to obtain books for our classroom libraries by applying for grants, writing numerous Donors Choose projects, asking teachers and friends to donate books, and scouring the bookshelves of secondhand stores. Still, we have a fraction of the books that our old school library housed, so we put our heads together to brainstorm solutions to this problem. We realized we were ignoring the most obvious solution, one that was free, easy, and right under our noses: our local public library.
Continue reading “How to Partner With Your Local Library”
By Kasey Short
November is National Native American Heritage Month, and as the month approaches I am considering how literature has the power to broaden my students’ understanding and appreciation of Native cultures and traditions. Whether your students delve into fiction written by Indigenous authors or discover nonfictional accounts of Native history and figures, all students’ learning can be enriched by exposure to Native American cultures. The books below represent a range of Indigenous experiences and include short story anthologies, poetry, novels, picture books, and nonfiction. As an 8th grade teacher, I am always looking for middle grade and young adult books to recommend to my students, but I have included books across the K-12 range. My 8th grade students enjoy having picture books read aloud to them and those I have listed below are not only suitable for elementary classrooms but also offer opportunities for deeper conversations with older students. I also include at the article’s end some free online resources that provide further insight, information, and suggestions for effectively engaging students with National Native American Heritage Month.
Continue reading “16 Books for National Native American Heritage Month”
By Mary M. McConnaha
For so many people connected to education, last school year felt isolating and stressful. Even in schools like mine where teachers and students were in-person or at least hybrid for much of the year, it was easy to feel disconnected. Parents felt confused and concerned about the work being done at home, and they often had to juggle work and homeschooling. Teachers’ workloads more than doubled, as they coped with rebuilding classrooms completely online, teaching the same content to two groups, and worrying about their own health and safety when very little was known. It was a year of stress like none other.
Continue reading “Teaching Email Skills to Students While Keeping Parents in the Loop”
by Kasey Short
All educators help shape their students’ worldview–and self-image–with the narratives they hold space for in their curriculum. As an English teacher, I am especially aware of the stories and perspectives I validate through the books I assign and recommend to my students. This Pride Month, I have been considering how I use literature to broaden my students’ understanding of gender expression and sexuality. Though I teach 8th grade English and so am primarily interested in young adult novels, I’ve accumulated a list of some wonderful LGBTQ+ books across the K-12 range!
Continue reading “20 Books to Celebrate Pride Month”
By Sharon Kunde
Marianne Moore argued that good poetry fashions “imaginary gardens with real toads in them”: worlds created of words in which toadlike reality crouches and springs on us, eliciting clenched hands, dilated eyes, “hair that can rise/if it must” (24, 5-6). Like good poetry, good pedagogy invites students into the world of ideas and allows them to create useful, authentic experiences and artifacts with those ideas.
While poems are easy to integrate into units on longer prose works, I strongly recommend devoting an entire unit (or more!) to poetry. In honor of National Poetry Month, here are some suggestions for final projects around which you can build an engaging poetry unit.
Continue reading “Three Poetry Final Projects for National Poetry Month”
By Melissa Smith
Imagine my student’s surprise when Elizabeth Acevedo complimented her analysis of her poem , or when Nate Marshall tweeted that a student’s blog on his poem was “dope” and “fresh.” Students feel recognized and validated, and these interactions are one of the most rewarding benefits to teaching living poets.
The #TeachLivingPoets movement started as a simple hashtag—a way for me to share my favorite poems and ways to teach them on social media. In 2017, after Skyping with poet R. A. Villanueva, whose poems we had read in class, my students begged me to set up another call; they wanted more. We ended up Skyping with him three times and the reaction I saw in my students was pure teaching gold. They were enthralled. They wrote guitar songs set to his poems. They wrote poems responding to his poems. They were excited—about poetry! The following year, social media interaction and Skype video calls quickly morphed into poetry readings and classroom visits.
Continue reading “The Power of Teaching Contemporary Poetry”
By Mary McConnaha
Since moving to virtual, hybrid, or socially distanced in-person learning, many of us have had to adapt our tried-and-true classroom procedures to fit these new environments. As a middle school English teacher, I have always enjoyed engaging with my students through my “bellringers”—activities I’ve established for the first few minutes of class while my students get settled. Though it took some trial and error, I’ve found ways to continue these traditions via hybrid and online learning. What’s more, I’ve found it to be more important than ever to engage with and uplift my students through these small routines. Here, I’ll share my favorite ways to kick off my English class, whether in-person or online.
Continue reading “Why Bellringer Activities Are More Important Than Ever”