January 31, 2016

#2ndaryELA Twitter Chat Topic: Cross-Curricular Learning

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will focus on cross-curricular teaching.
Brynn Allison, The Literary Maven & Kristy, 2 Peas and a Dog are hosting #2ndaryELA on Twitter every Tuesday evening from 8 - 8:30 PM EST. #2ndaryELA is a weekly chat for secondary English Language Arts teachers focused on a topic. Every Sunday, we will post the topic and questions on our blogs to allow you to prepare for the upcoming Tuesday evening's chat. Thank you to everyone who joined us last week and we hope that you will join us again.




Looking for the recap? Click on the image below.


New in 2016 is our 2ndaryELA Facebook group, which we would love to have you join even if you aren't on Twitter. 2ndaryELA is a group of middle and high school English Language Arts teachers looking to share ideas and best practices. This group is an extension of our Twitter chat and a place for collaboration, questions, and encouragement. Feel free to post teaching ideas, success stories, resource links, photos, etc. that will enhance our instruction.

On Tuesday, February 2, our #2ndaryELA chat will focus on cross-curricular learning.

The Format:
8:00 Intros: What and where do you teach? Include a link to your blog if you have one. #2ndaryELA
8:05 Q1: How do you integrate important historical events into ELA? i.e. This month is Black History Month. #2ndaryELA
8:10 Q2: What is your favorite text to teach during this month? Why? Share lesson ideas. #2ndaryELA
8:15 Q3: What other history topics do you cover in your ELA classes? What topics are the most engaging to your students? #2ndaryELA
8:20 Q4: What other subjects are you able to integrate into your ELA lessons? How? #2ndaryELA
8:25 Q5: Share your best resource, lesson or idea that you use when cross-curricular teaching. #2ndaryELA

The Directions:
1. Log into Twitter on Tuesday from 8-8:30 PM EST.
2. Search for tweets with the hashtag #2ndaryELA in the search bar. Make sure to click “All tweets.”
3. Introductions are for the first 5 minutes.
4. Starting at 8:05 (@literarymaven or @2peasandadog) will post questions every 5 minutes using the format Q1, Q2, Q3, etc. and the hashtag #2ndaryELA.
5. Respond to questions using the format A1, A2, A3, etc. with #2ndaryELA.
6. Follow any teachers responding and who are also using #2ndaryELA.
7. Like and respond to other teachers' tweets.

You can schedule your responses to the questions ahead of time using a scheduler like TweetDeck or HootSuite (but don't forget to use A1, A2, etc. and #2ndaryELA). Links are encouraged, so be sure to use a link shortener like tinyurlbitlygoo.gl or ow.ly Just visit one of those links and paste your long link to shorten it for Twitter. Using images is also encouraged when relevant.

New to chats? Here are the rules:
1. Stay on topic & stay positive!
2. Please do not post or promote paid products unless specifically asked.
3. If you arrive late, try to look through other posts before beginning.
4. Feel free to just read, like, and/or retweet.
5. Always use our hashtag #2ndaryELA, including in your replies to others.
6. Make sure your twitter feed is set to public. (Also keep in mind that Twitter is completely public – that means students, parents, and administrators can and will read what you tweet.)

Be sure to spread the word to any teacher friends who might be interested in joining us as well. We look forward to chatting with you Tuesday evening and in our 2ndaryELA Facebook group!

Get caught up on past chats here:

January 27, 2016

Connecting with the Holocaust: Making it Personal for Students


Teaching the Holocaust while reading a Holocaust-related novel can be challenging; there is so much information to be shared, but you don;t want to the topic to become overwhelming, distant, or unreal to students. Analyzing photographs from the time period, assigning students the identity of a Holocaust victim, and a mini-lesson on nutrition are all ways to help students make personal connections with the Holocaust.

When teaching any work of historical fiction or literary nonfiction, it is helpful to build students' background knowledge before jumping right into reading. In the lower grades, social studies is too often put on the back burner because it isn't a tested subject. Students' understanding of history suffers because it becomes the subject of least priority. I find the practice of building background knowledge especially important when teaching a novel set against the backdrop the Holocaust.

While some of my students have previously read a Holocaust related text, many have not and have little knowledge about the historical event. And understandably so, the topic can seem distant, unreal, even unbelievable to students. It can be hard for them to fathom so that many lives could be lost in such a short period of time, that one individual could wield so much power over other people, that most of the world stood by and watched while such tragedy unfolded.

Teaching the Holocaust while reading a Holocaust-related novel can be challenging; there is so much information to be shared, but you don;t want to the topic to become overwhelming, distant, or unreal to students. Analyzing photographs from the time period, assigning students the identity of a Holocaust victim, and a mini-lesson on nutrition are all ways to help students make personal connections with the Holocaust.My first step to building my students' background knowledge is to do an overview of the before, during, and after of the Holocaust, including the events leading up to World War II, the persecution of the Jews and other groups, and the aftermath. This is a one day note taking lesson. I use a PowerPoint that presents the information in the simplest terms possible and provide fill-in-the-blank notes for students so that they aren't overwhelmed with the amount of information provided.

Since I don't expect everything to stick on that first day, these notes become a great summary that students can refer back to throughout our unit. During the lesson, students can also jot down questions and make note of topics they want to know more about, both of which help me to tailor the unit to their needs and interests.

Teaching the Holocaust while reading a Holocaust-related novel can be challenging; there is so much information to be shared, but you don;t want to the topic to become overwhelming, distant, or unreal to students. Analyzing photographs from the time period, assigning students the identity of a Holocaust victim, and a mini-lesson on nutrition are all ways to help students make personal connections with the Holocaust.After a day of note taking, something I very rarely do, I use a set of station activities to get students to begin interacting with some of the information presented in the previous lesson. Some of the station activities relate to the Holocaust as a whole, such as matching caption descriptions with images and then selecting one image to analyze.

Other station activities connect directly to the novel we will be reading, such as placing the events of Night author, Elie Wiesel's life in chronological order. Some of the stations require students to work as a group, while at others, students will work independently or do a mix of both. Based on indicated student interests from the previous lesson, I may add a media station where students watch and respond to a short video on a topic such as Adolf Hitler or the Nuremberg Laws.

Teaching the Holocaust while reading a Holocaust-related novel can be challenging; there is so much information to be shared, but you don;t want to the topic to become overwhelming, distant, or unreal to students. Analyzing photographs from the time period, assigning students the identity of a Holocaust victim, and a mini-lesson on nutrition are all ways to help students make personal connections with the Holocaust.Once students have acquired some background knowledge on the Holocaust, I assign them the identify of a real Holocaust victim and encourage them to view the events of the novel or history unit through that individual’s eyes. The set of 37 Holocaust victim identity cards I use (information and images with permission from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) features individuals who were children and young adults during the Holocaust, some of whom survived and some of whom didn't.


The cards include a photograph, the individual's name, date of birth, birthplace, and information about his/her life: a description of life before Hitler came to power, before World War II, and after WWII began. The cards feature individuals identified as Jews, but also Roma (gypsies), Jehovah’s Witnesses, accused homosexuals, mentally ill, and the “righteous.” This helps to make students aware that the Jews were not the only group targeted by the Nazis.

Teaching the Holocaust while reading a Holocaust-related novel can be challenging; there is so much information to be shared, but you don;t want to the topic to become overwhelming, distant, or unreal to students. Analyzing photographs from the time period, assigning students the identity of a Holocaust victim, and a mini-lesson on nutrition are all ways to help students make personal connections with the Holocaust.
As the students read about their assigned individuals, I pull up a map on my SmartBoard on which we plot the birthplaces of different victims and then compare this with a map of Nazi-occupied territory during WWII. Students discuss the similarities between victims as well as between the victims and themselves, and make predictions about what might have happened to them by the end of the war. At the end of our unit, I reveal to the students the fate of each of their victims, listed in a newspaper-like format. Some students become so invested in their assigned individual that they can't wait to find out from me and look them up on the internet instead.

Throughout my novel unit, I refer back to these identity cards and ask students to respond to writing prompts from the perspective of their assigned individual. The writing prompts correspond with major events in the novel as well as the historical time period, i.e. the discrimination and persecution of Jews following WWI, life in the ghettos, deportation via cattle cars, and arrival in the concentration camps.

As a mini-project, students create personal identity cards which ask them to consider how they want to be remembered and what they want known about them in the future. They take this project quite seriously after realizing that for many victims of the Holocaust, this identity card is all that is left of the person. With entire families wiped out, there are no children or grandchildren to tell the stories of their elders, just a few sheets of paper.

Teaching the Holocaust while reading a Holocaust-related novel can be challenging; there is so much information to be shared, but you don;t want to the topic to become overwhelming, distant, or unreal to students. Analyzing photographs from the time period, assigning students the identity of a Holocaust victim, and a mini-lesson on nutrition are all ways to help students make personal connections with the Holocaust.Another way I foster student to text connections during this novel unit is by doing a mini-lesson on nutrition during the Holocaust. Either when reading about day to day life in the ghettos or concentration camps, students track their own daily calorie intake and then analyze information about food rations during World War II.


Looking at the average daily calorie intake of someone living in a ghetto or concentration camp (300-500 calories) and comparing that to their own (recommended 2,000 calories) shows students just one of the difficulties of survival. Students also start to understand how food was used a a weapon; depriving people of proper nutrition was a way of controlling them, and eventually possibly killing them off. This mini-lesson would be a great opportunity for a cross-disciplinary lesson with the school health teacher or nurse, who could discuss necessary nutrients and explain how the lack of these essentials would affect one's body.

Teaching the Holocaust while reading a Holocaust-related novel can be challenging; there is so much information to be shared, but you don;t want to the topic to become overwhelming, distant, or unreal to students. Analyzing photographs from the time period, assigning students the identity of a Holocaust victim, and a mini-lesson on nutrition are all ways to help students make personal connections with the Holocaust.
I usually culminate this novel unit with a research paper on a topic of students' choice. I ask students to reflect back on the topics they indicated they were interested in during the initial note taking overview of the Holocaust. They may have also generated new ideas and questions while reading the novel. The Holocaust is a broad enough topic that all of my students are able to pick something that interests them.

Since many of my students are struggling writers and have never written a research paper before, I use a highly structured, step by step guide to writing a research paper. Annotating a sample essay before students begin to write their own is key to students' success. The sample essay is a model that they can refer back to throughout the writing process.

In the revision stage, students will annotate their rough draft in the same way, identifying all the necessary components of a research paper. Student investment throughout the unit and selection of a topic of personal interest keeps student engagement high throughout the research paper writing process.

You can find all of my Holocaust teaching resources here.

Find more resources for teaching the Holocaust and other genocides here:

January 25, 2016

On My Bookshelf: Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

In Counting by 7s, being different doesn't seem to phase Willow. She wears her gardening outfit on her first day of middle school and turns her mandatory counseling sessions  into a game. But after both parents die suddenly, Willow must adapt to a new life with the Nyguyen family while coping with her grief. Willow meets these challenges and changes the people around for the better as she does. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
Basic plot from Amazon: In the tradition of Out of My Mind, Wonder, and Mockingbird, this is an intensely moving middle grade novel about being an outsider, coping with loss, and discovering the true meaning of family.

Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.

Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.

Why I liked it: Willow is different from the other students at her new middle school. Different as in she wears her gardening outfit on the first day of school because she wants her classmates to know who she is and what her interests are, and nothing her parents say can convince her otherwise. With her level of genius and social awkwardness, she likely would be considered "on the spectrum."

Then there is Mai Nguyen and her mother Pattie; it would be difficult to decide which character I liked better. The Vietnamese daughter and mother are both fiercely protective of the ones they love and don't take no for an answer. Neither hesitates to take in Willow, a young girl Mai barely knows and Pattie has never met before, after Willow's parents are killed in a car accident. That is the part of the story where you have to suspend some disbelief. Would near strangers really be allowed to take in a young girl, even temporarily?

If you can get past that, you can see the magic in this story because despite her quirky nature, Willow brings out the best in other people. Her slacker counselor, Dell Duke, decides to start running and lose some weight. Her taxi driver, Jairo Hernandez, goes back to school. Mai's brother Quang-ha starts doing his work at school and strikes up an unlikely friendship with Dell. And its not just people that Willow changes, its places too. With the help of the Nguyens, Dell and some connections in the gardening world, Willow transforms the apartment complex, The Gardens of Glenwood.

Classroom application: While Willow is just starting middle school, Counting by 7s could also be enjoyed by high school students. The novel could be offered as a choice for literature circles on the topic of differences with novels such as Tangerine by Edward Bloor, Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper, Wonder by R. J. Palacio, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.

After reading the novel, students could engage in a service learning project. Like Willow, they could identify a need in their school or community or an aspect they would like to change and take steps to fill that need or make that change.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Counting by 7s for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

January 24, 2016

#2ndaryELA Twitter Chat Topic: Independent Reading

Brynn Allison, The Literary Maven & Kristy, 2 Peas and a Dog are hosting #2ndaryELA on Twitter every Tuesday evening from 8 - 8:30 PM EST. #2ndaryELA is a weekly chat for secondary English Language Arts teachers focused on a topic. Every Sunday, we will post the topic and questions on our blogs to allow you to prepare for the upcoming Tuesday evening's chat. Thank you to everyone who joined us last week and we hope that you will join us again.





Looking for the recap? Click on the image below.


New in 2016 is our 2ndaryELA Facebook group, which we would love to have you join even if you aren't on Twitter. 2ndaryELA is a group of middle and high school English Language Arts teachers looking to share ideas and best practices. This group is an extension of our Twitter chat and a place for collaboration, questions, and encouragement. Feel free to post teaching ideas, success stories, resource links, photos, etc. that will enhance our instruction.





On Tuesday, January 26, our #2ndaryELA chat will focus on independent reading.
The Format:
8:00 Intros: What and where do you teach? Include a link to your blog if you have one. #2ndaryELA
8:05 Q1: What types of independent reading occurs in your classroom? Teacher or student selected? #2ndaryELA
8:10 Q2: How do you hold students accountable for their independent reading? #2ndaryELA
8:15 Q3: What are some of the best independent reading projects/assignments you use? #2ndaryELA
8:20 Q4: How do you track progress on independent reading projects? #2ndaryELA
8:25 Q5: How do you motivate your students to complete independent reading in a timely manner? #2ndaryELA

The Directions:
1. Log into Twitter on Tuesday from 8-8:30 PM EST.
2. Search for tweets with the hashtag #2ndaryELA in the search bar. Make sure to click “All tweets.”
3. Introductions are for the first 5 minutes.
4. Starting at 8:05 (@literarymaven or @2peasandadog) will post questions every 5 minutes using the format Q1, Q2, Q3, etc. and the hashtag #2ndaryELA.
5. Respond to questions using the format A1, A2, A3, etc. with #2ndaryELA.
6. Follow any teachers responding and who are also using #2ndaryELA.
7. Like and respond to other teachers' tweets.

You can schedule your responses to the questions ahead of time using a scheduler like TweetDeck or HootSuite (but don't forget to use A1, A2, etc. and #2ndaryELA). Links are encouraged, so be sure to use a link shortener like tinyurl, bitly, goo.gl or ow.ly Just visit one of those links and paste your long link to shorten it for Twitter. Using images is also encouraged when relevant.
New to chats? Here are the rules:
1. Stay on topic & stay positive!
2. Please do not post or promote paid products unless specifically asked.
3. If you arrive late, try to look through other posts before beginning.
4. Feel free to just read, like, and/or retweet.
5. Always use our hashtag #2ndaryELA, including in your replies to others.
6. Make sure your twitter feed is set to public. (Also keep in mind that Twitter is completely public – that means students, parents, and administrators can and will read what you tweet.)

Be sure to spread the word to any teacher friends who might be interested in joining us as well. We look forward to chatting with you Tuesday evening and in our 2ndaryELA Facebook group!

Get caught up on past chats here:

January 20, 2016

Active Learning: Ideas For Movement, Games & Hands-on Activities

Channel students' energy by incorporating opportunities for movement into your lessons. In this #2ndaryELA Twitter chat, middle and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed active learning, including movement in the classroom and layouts that accommodate it, games, hands-on activities, and technology that helps to engage students. Read through the chat for ideas to implement in your own classroom.
This #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about active learning in the ELA classroom. Middle and High School English Language Arts teachers discussed movement in the classroom and layouts that accommodate it, games, hands-on activities, and technology that helps to engage students. The highlights are below.

Movement:
*Brain breaks using GoNoodle
*Stations/centers
*Using carousels to preview or respond to texts
*Four Corners
*Play SCOOT with task cards
*Use an "appointment sheet" where students set up appointments with 4 different students in the class, each meeting lasting 3-4 minutes
*Flexible seating
*1/4 class water fountain breaks
*Do a warm-up each day that incorporates some type of movement in pairs or groups
*Line students up facing each other to practice Poetry Out Loud recitations
*Small classroom? Take students in the hallway or outside

Games:
*For vocabulary, Pictionary and other made up games
*Kahoot!
*JeopardyLabs
*Spelling/Vocab Tic-tac-toe
*ZAP
*SCOOT
*SCATTER
*Vocabulary games from Vocab Gal
*Word chains
*Word webs (with a twist)
*Charades
*Literature related challenges, i.e. Dickens Dash to learn about Dickens before reading "A Christmas Carol." An amazing race style team challenge with clues, info, then tasks to introduce the author's life. At one stop, students learn that his dad had financial troubles and they have to balance a check book.
*"Survivor" vocabulary review. If a student gets a question right, they get to vote someone off the island, and that person sits down.
*Improv games

Technology:
*Backchannels like TodaysMeet
*Interactive lessons and assessment tools like Nearpod
*Ask and answer questions with Socratic
*Response cards like Plickers
*QR Codes
*Quia

Hands-on Activities:
*Have students make mini books
*Interactive notebook foldables
*Coloring pages for word parts
*Flipbooks
*Props
*Interactive notebooks
*Sketchnoting
*Art
*Gestures activities
*Kagan games/activities

Hope you'll join us next Tuesday night, January 26th at 8pm EST to active independent reading in the classroom. The questions for our next chat will be posted here on Sunday. We'd also love for you to join our 2ndaryELA Facebook group (even if you aren't on Twitter). 2ndaryELA is a group of middle and high school English Language Arts teachers looking to share ideas and best practices. This group is an extension of our Twitter chat and a place for collaboration, questions, and encouragement. Feel free to post teaching ideas, success stories, resource links, photos, etc. that will enhance our instruction. If you missed this most recent chat, scroll down and read the whole thing below.

January 18, 2016

On My Bookshelf: Wonder by R. J. Palacio

In Wonder by R.J. Palacio, August can't hide his differences. They are as plain to see as the misshapen nose on his face. Despite his physical deformities, his parents decide that he will attend a traditional middle school after years of homeschooling. At first, August struggles to fit in as many of his peers cannot accept his differences, but over time, just being himself is enough to win them over. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
Basic plot from Amazon: August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

"Wonder is the best kids' book of the year," said Emily Bazelon, senior editor at Slate.com and author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” —indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

Why I liked it: The multiple perspectives in the novel allowed you to see what it is like to look physically different from others as well as what it is like to be the sister, friend, parent, etc. of such a different individual. I found the characters to be very realistic and the multiple perspectives allowed you to see the positives in many characters as well as their flaws. Many of the children in the book are not magically friends with August just because they are told to be, not even the "good" kids like Charlotte. Even the adults aren't perfect. Many have negative or inappropriate responses to August. In the end, August is able to win just about everyone over by simply being himself.

Classroom application: The novel is an obvious lead in to discussions surrounding bulling, differences and tolerances. To help students understand the complexity of bullying, throughout the novel, or at its end, students could examine various scenes and identify the ally, target, bystander and perpetrator after deciding upon definitions of these terms. Looking at scenes throughout the book would help students to see that these labels or roles can fluctuate. Sometimes people do the right thing and sometimes they don't.

The novel would also tie into nonfiction texts about the treatment of individuals with physical deformities throughout history, i.e. leprosy and leper colonies.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Wonder for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

January 17, 2016

#2ndaryELA Twitter Chat Topic: Active Engagement in the ELA Classroom


Brynn Allison, The Literary Maven & Kristy, 2 Peas and a Dog are hosting #2ndaryELA on Twitter every Tuesday evening from 8 - 8:30 PM EST. #2ndaryELA is a weekly chat for secondary English Language Arts teachers focused on a topic. Every Sunday, we will post the topic and questions on our blogs to allow you to prepare for the upcoming Tuesday evening's chat. Thank you to everyone who joined us last week and we hope that you will join us again.




Looking for the recap? Click on the image below.



New in 2016 is our 2ndaryELA Facebook group, which we would love to have you join even if you aren't on Twitter. 2ndaryELA is a group of middle and high school English Language Arts teachers looking to share ideas and best practices. This group is an extension of our Twitter chat and a place for collaboration, questions, and encouragement. Feel free to post teaching ideas, success stories, resource links, photos, etc. that will enhance our instruction.

On Tuesday, January 19, our #2ndaryELA chat will focus on active engagement in the ELA classroom.

The Format:

8:00 Intros: What and where do you teach? Include a link to your blog if you have one. #2ndaryELA
8:05 Q1: Do you incorporate movement in your ELA classroom? How so? #2ndaryELA
8:10 Q2: Is your classroom layout designed for movement (i.e. different work areas, flexible seating)? Feel free to share photos. #2ndaryELA
8:15 Q3: What sorts of games do you incorporate into your instruction? #2ndaryELA
8:20 Q4: What technology helps facilitate active engagement in your classroom? #2ndaryELA
8:25 Q5: How do you incorporate hands-on learning in your classroom? #2ndaryELA

The Directions:
1. Log into Twitter on Tuesday from 8-8:30 PM EST.
2. Search for tweets with the hashtag #2ndaryELA in the search bar. Make sure to click “All tweets.”
3. Introductions are for the first 5 minutes.
4. Starting at 8:05 (@literarymaven or @2peasandadog) will post questions every 5 minutes using the format Q1, Q2, Q3, etc. and the hashtag #2ndaryELA.
5. Respond to questions using the format A1, A2, A3, etc. with #2ndaryELA.
6. Follow any teachers responding and who are also using #2ndaryELA.
7. Like and respond to other teachers' tweets.

You can schedule your responses to the questions ahead of time using a scheduler like TweetDeck or HootSuite (but don't forget to use A1, A2, etc. and #2ndaryELA). Links are encouraged, so be sure to use a link shortener like tinyurl, bitly, goo.gl or ow.ly Just visit one of those links and paste your long link to shorten it for Twitter. Using images is also encouraged when relevant.

New to chats? Here are the rules:
1. Stay on topic & stay positive!
2. Please do not post or promote paid products unless specifically asked.
3. If you arrive late, try to look through other posts before beginning.
4. Feel free to just read, like, and/or retweet.
5. Always use our hashtag #2ndaryELA, including in your replies to others.
6. Make sure your twitter feed is set to public. (Also keep in mind that Twitter is completely public – that means students, parents, and administrators can and will read what you tweet.)

Be sure to spread the word to any teacher friends who might be interested in joining us as well. We look forward to chatting with you Tuesday evening and in our 2ndaryELA Facebook group!

Get caught up on past chats here:

January 12, 2016

Poetry: Lesson Ideas, Favorite Poems & Resources

Poetry is the music of literature. In this #2ndaryELA Twitter chat, middle and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed important skills and terms when teaching poetry, favorite poems, student writing, and how to appeal to those students who don't like or don't "get" poetry. Read through the chat for ideas to implement in your own classroom.
This #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about teaching poetry in the ELA classroom. Middle and High School English Language Arts teachers discussed important skills and terms when teaching poetry, favorite poems, student writing, and how to appeal to those students who don't like or don't "get" poetry. The highlights are below.

Important Skills & Terms to Teach
*Word Choice
*Imagery
*Close reading
*Different tropes
*Tone
*Mood
*Figurative language
*Digging for deeper meaning
*Theme
*Syntax
*Structure
*sound devices

Favorite Poets & Poems
*Ozymandias
*Anything by Frost
*The Christening by Simon Armitage
* T.S. Eliot
*Sylvia Plath
*Neil Gaiman
*Slam! Poetry like Sarah Kay
*My Papa's Waltz
*Anything by Tennyson
*Sherman Alexie
*Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins
*How to Eat a Poem by Eve Merriam
*Hanging Fire by Audre Lorde
*Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
*The Road Not Taken
*Jabberwocky
*Emily Dickinson
*e.e. cummings
*William Carlos Williams
*Annabel Lee
*Paul Revere's Ride
*Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owens
*Chicago by Sandburg
*Gwendolyn Brooks

Incorporating Student Writing
*Using coming of age poems as mentor texts was a great way to get to know students
*Create "found poetry" from literature and informational texts
*Use "structured" poems (fill-in-the-blankish) for students who "can't write poetry." For example, after reading "Ego Tripping" by Nikki Giovanni, students use allusions to show how "bad" they are.
*Try out different forms and create a poetry portfolio: concrete, free form/biographic, narrative, haiku, diamante, etc.

Getting Creative to Draw Students In
*Participate in Poetry Out Loud, a recitation contest
*Use this TED Talk comparing hip-hop and Shakespeare
*Hold a Poetry Cafe
*Compare poems to song lyrics like "Mother to Son" by Langston Hughes and "Dear Mama" by Tupac
*Create blackout poetry
*Show animated poems
*Use this pre-reading strategy to look at individual words before seeing the poem as a whole
*Do a "Hip Hop or Harlem Renaissance" activity comparing poetry to hip hop & rap lyrics, where students have to guess which is which
*Create a tic-tac-toe choice board of poems to read

Hope you'll join us next Tuesday night, January 19th at 8pm EST to active engagement in the classroom. The questions for our next chat will be posted here on Sunday. We'd also love for you to join our 2ndaryELA Facebook group (even if you aren't on Twitter). 2ndaryELA is a group of middle and high school English Language Arts teachers looking to share ideas and best practices. This group is an extension of our Twitter chat and a place for collaboration, questions, and encouragement. Feel free to post teaching ideas, success stories, resource links, photos, etc. that will enhance our instruction. If you missed this most recent chat, scroll down and read the whole thing below.

January 11, 2016

On My Bookshelf: One For The Murphys By Lynda Mullaly Hunt

In One For The Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Carley puts up a tough facade for her foster family and the kids at her new school, but inside are a whirlwind of emotions surrounding a night she is struggling to remember. Just as Carley becomes comfortable accepting and returning the love of her new family and friends, she must chose between this new life and returning to the one who hurt her most. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
Basic plot from Amazon: Carley uses humor and street smarts to keep her emotional walls high and thick. But the day she becomes a foster child, and moves in with the Murphys, she's blindsided. This loving, bustling family shows Carley the stable family life she never thought existed, and she feels like an alien in their cookie-cutter-perfect household. Despite her resistance, the Murphys eventually show her what it feels like to belong--until her mother wants her back and Carley has to decide where and how to live. She's not really a Murphy, but the gifts they've given her have opened up a new future.

Why I liked it: Carley is a main character that is impossible not to love. Who can say no to a girl who skips school to go to the library? And your heart will break for her as she struggles to accept the love of her new foster family because of how poorly she has been treated in the past by her stepfather and even her own mother. It's no wonder she lets her new friend, Toni, believe that the Murphys are her real family. Being the new kid at school is difficult enough without having to explain that you are in foster care and how you ended up there. Despite some disagreements between her foster mother (who turns out to have been in foster care herself) and foster father, and tension with the oldest of the Murphys' sons, Carley builds relationships with the entire family and it is a struggle for her to return to her mother. I, for one, was rooting for her to stay with the Murphys.

Classroom application: This one will have your middle school students holding back tears and high schoolers will love it too. The novel would be a great lead in to a research project on the foster care system. Students could research the number of children in foster care in your state, the percentage of them that are returned to their homes versus the percentage that are adopted or remain in the system until they age out. Students could also investigate the rules surrounding removing a child from his/her parent's care and maybe even write an argument essay on children's rights or parents' rights.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of One For The Murphys for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

January 10, 2016

#2ndaryELA Twitter Chat Topic: Poetry

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will focus on poetry.
Brynn Allison, The Literary Maven & Kristy, 2 Peas and a Dog are hosting #2ndaryELA on Twitter every Tuesday evening from 8 - 8:30 PM EST. #2ndaryELA is a weekly chat for secondary English Language Arts teachers focused on a topic. Every Sunday, we will post the topic and questions on our blogs to allow you to prepare for the upcoming Tuesday evening's chat. Thank you to everyone who joined us last week and we hope that you will join us again.




Looking for the recap? Click on the image below.



New in 2016 is our 2ndaryELA Facebook group, which we would love to have you join even if you aren't on Twitter. 2ndaryELA is a group of middle and high school English Language Arts teachers looking to share ideas and best practices. This group is an extension of our Twitter chat and a place for collaboration, questions, and encouragement. Feel free to post teaching ideas, success stories, resource links, photos, etc. that will enhance our instruction.

On Tuesday, January 12, our #2ndaryELA chat will focus on poetry.

The Format:
8:00 Intros: What and where do you teach? Include a link to your blog if you have one. #2ndaryELA
8:05 Q1: Do you teach a poetry unit? When? Or do you incorporate it all year long? #2ndaryELA
8:10 Q2: What skills and terms are most important for you to cover when teaching poetry? #2ndaryELA
8:15 Q3: What are your favorite poems to teach? What are students’ favorites to read? #2ndaryELA
8:20 Q4: Is student writing part of your poetry unit? Share favorite assignments. #2ndaryELA
8:25 Q5: How do you get creative when teaching poetry to appeal to those students who “hate” or don’t “get” poetry? #2ndaryELA

The Directions:

1. Log into Twitter on Tuesday from 8-8:30 PM EST.
2. Search for tweets with the hashtag #2ndaryELA in the search bar. Make sure to click “All tweets.”
3. Introductions are for the first 5 minutes.
4. Starting at 8:05 (@literarymaven or @2peasandadog) will post questions every 5 minutes using the format Q1, Q2, Q3, etc. and the hashtag #2ndaryELA.
5. Respond to questions using the format A1, A2, A3, etc. with #2ndaryELA.
6. Follow any teachers responding and who are also using #2ndaryELA.
7. Like and respond to other teachers' tweets.

You can schedule your responses to the questions ahead of time using a scheduler like TweetDeck or HootSuite (but don't forget to use A1, A2, etc. and #2ndaryELA). Links are encouraged, so be sure to use a link shortener like tinyurl, bitly, goo.gl or ow.ly Just visit one of those links and paste your long link to shorten it for Twitter. Using images is also encouraged when relevant.

New to chats? Here are the rules:

1. Stay on topic & stay positive!
2. Please do not post or promote paid products unless specifically asked.
3. If you arrive late, try to look through other posts before beginning.
4. Feel free to just read, like, and/or retweet.
5. Always use our hashtag #2ndaryELA, including in your replies to others.
6. Make sure your twitter feed is set to public. (Also keep in mind that Twitter is completely public – that means students, parents, and administrators can and will read what you tweet.)

Be sure to spread the word to any teacher friends who might be interested in joining us as well. We look forward to chatting with you Tuesday evening and in our 2ndaryELA Facebook group!

Get caught up on past chats here:

January 8, 2016

9 Effective Ways to Prepare Students for Standardized Testing

You want your students to be prepared and to be successful, whether its on the SAT, ACT, AP exam, PARCC, or other state or local standardized tests. Use these 9 effective way to get your students ready for the big test.
"Oooo goody, it's time for standardized tests!" said no teacher ever. And while none of us are excited about it, we all want our students to be prepared and successful. Depending on the needs of your students, you may spend a day or a week or several days spread out over several weeks gearing them up for their upcoming standardized test. Below are nine different ways to help you prepare your students and boost their confidence levels for the approaching exam.

1. Do a "cold read" of the test. Simulate both the format of the test and the testing environment for students. This is especially important for students who may struggle with test taking as it will allow them to experience and work through the frustration of not being about to ask questions and the boredom of reading long, uninteresting passages.

However, you don't want students to experience those feelings for the first time as they are taking a high-stakes exam. Giving them exposure to the test and its rules will decrease their frustration when they are taking the real thing.

Test Prep Tip:  Review types of questions and answers that are intentionally written to trip students up like answer choices that are too similar. Read on for more effective ways to prepare students for standardized testing.2. Review test-taking strategies. Students need to know that questions and answers are intentionally written to be tricky. Some answer choices may be true but do not answer the question. Other answer choices may only be partially true.

I usually spend at least one day on a lesson teaching strategies for answering multiple choice questions and constructed response prompts before I give students full practice passages on which to try out the strategies. I have students take notes on the different "tricks" they may see in questions and answer choices, and strategies they can use to work through them.

3. Mark the test for evidence of the answers. This can be done in a variety of ways. You can direct students to go back into the text and mark the evidence that supports their answer to each question as they take a practice test. You can also do this after students have self-corrected a practice test or give students the answers to a test they haven't taken and have them go back to the passage to find the supporting evidence.

Test Prep Tip:  Direct students to go back into the text and mark the evidence that supports their answer to each question as they take a practice test. Read on for more effective ways to prepare students for standardized testing.
You may want to try all three methods starting with the latter just to show students that all of the answers are in the text if they just go back and look. In all three, I have students underline or highlight the evidence and then place the question number next to that section. Then if I need to give a participation grade, I can see that they were actively working.

4. Make it group work. Allow students to work with partners or small groups as they work through a practice test. As students work together, encourage them to discuss why they eliminated certain answer choices and how they selected their final answer. To speed things up, assign each group one question and then have them share out.

If groups are answering all questions or several groups are answering the same question, ask each group to post their answers on the board. This allows you to compare answer choices and look for trends in misunderstanding. You can then focus in on skills with which students are struggling using skill-based assessments to reteach and review. If you are practicing with state released items, you can also share with students the percentage of students who selected those answer choices during past testing. This can help affirm students' struggles and boost their confidence by knowing which questions were difficult for others as well.
Test Prep Tip:  Remove answer choices for multiple-choice questions and have students come up with their own as they work through a practice test. Read on for more effective ways to prepare students for standardized testing.

5. Let students generate their own answers. First remove the answer choices for the multiple-choice questions and have students come up with their own as they work through a practice test. Then show students the real answer choices to see if students are able to select the correct one after coming up with their own. This comparison will also allow students to so see how closely their student-created answers matched up with the "real" ones.

6. Analyze sample constructed responses. Again, if you are practicing with state released items, sample responses to the constructed response prompts are often included. If not, you can write your own (be sure to save them for next year so you don't have to do that year after year!) or use student samples from past assignments (without student names on them of course). Show students samples of constructed response items for each score on the state released rubric (i.e. a 3, 2, 1 and 0) and explain why each was awarded its score.

Test Prep Tip:  Show students samples of constructed response items and explain why each was awarded its score based on the test’s writing rubric. Read on for more effective ways to prepare students for standardized testing.
Then allow students to score other sample constructed responses using the same rubric. If students have read the passage that the constructed responses are connected to, you can also ask the students to revise one of the samples so that it would receive the highest score.

7. Hold a peer scoring session. Allow students to read and score each others' constructed responses using the state released rubric. To make the activity more meaningful than just giving students a score, ask students to also give their peers feedback: one positive and one area of improvement.

If you are concerned about student privacy or if you think your students will be sensitive about being scored by their peers, assign students a number to put on their writing rather than their name. As long as the class is mature enough, I do like students to know who wrote what because I find their feedback to be more meaningful. It can also be helpful for students to identify strong writers in the class that they could potentially turn to for help.

Test Prep Tip:  Have students practice starting off their response to a constructed response prompt using original language from the prompt. Read on for more effective ways to prepare students for standardized testing.8. Practice turning around the prompt. Look at a series of constructed response prompts and have students practice how they would begin their response. Encourage students to use as much of the original language from the prompt as possible. This is especially helpful for students who struggle to get started when it comes time to write. I teach a lesson on the three steps to turning around a prompt, first with simple questions and then with the types of prompts students are likely to be given on the test.

9. Make it fun. Take a break from those practice test passages and use games like Bingo and Jeopardy to review key ideas. Kahoot! is another great interactive (sometimes competitive) way to review. Before we play a review game, I remind my students that they type of questions in the game will not be like what they see on the test, but instead ask about literary terms that may appear on the test. You can check out my Kahoot! reviewing literary terms here and play it with your class. The site has tons of other free, teacher-created Kahoot! games you can search through and play.

For more ideas and resources for assessment:



Have other ideas for effective test preparation? Share them in the comments below. Best of luck to you and your students!

January 4, 2016

On My Bookshelf: Paper Towns by John Green

In Paper Towns by John Green, Margo enlists her longtime neighbor and childhood friend, Quentin, to help her exact revenge on her cheating boyfriend and her disloyal best friend. But after a night of thrilling hijinks, Margo disappears, leaving behind clues for Quentin to find her. As time passes, Quentin begins to wonder if the clues will lead him anywhere and if Margo actually wants to be found. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
Basic plot from Amazon: When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night—dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q.

Printz Medalist John Green returns with the trademark brilliant wit and heart-stopping emotional honesty that have inspired a new generation of readers.

Why I liked it: The first part of the book is awesome. Margo finds out that one of her boyfriend is cheating on her with one of her best friends so she recruits Quentin, her next door neighbor and childhood friend to help her exact her revenge. The dead fish, spray paint, and Vaseline are all thought out and executed perfectly.

But then Margo disappears, leaving a series of clues for Quentin to find her, only they might not be clues and she doesn't seem to want to be found. There's even the possibility that the clues will lead Quentin to her dead body. While Margo's parents are painted as the "bad guys" for saying enough with her shenanigans and changing their locks, for me Margo is the unattractive character. She gives no thought to her family or friends' feelings when she disappears right before high school graduation. She is selfish and only the detective investigating her disappearance seems to see that.

Like The Abundance of Katherines, also by John Green, this novel depicts wonderful boy friendships. Quentin's two best buds, Ben and Radar, are fabulously nerdy but hilarious and endlessly supportive of Quentin's quest to find Margo, including a highly unrealistic road trip the night of their senior graduation.

Classroom application: It's worth adding to your middle or high school classroom library; your girls, hopeless romantics, and nerdy boys will like it.

The revenge plot at the beginning of the novel would make an interesting writing exercise. Students could choose another character, one from another novel or one of their own creation, and plan out who that character would want to take revenge upon and how they would do it.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Paper Towns for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

January 3, 2016

#2ndaryELA Twitter Chat Topic: Goal Setting and Re-Establishing Your Classroom

Brynn Allison, The Literary Maven & Kristy, 2 Peas and a Dog are hosting #2ndaryELA on Twitter every Tuesday evening from 8 - 8:30 PM EST. #2ndaryELA is a weekly chat for secondary English Language Arts teachers focused on a topic. Every Sunday, we will post the topic and questions on our blogs to allow you to prepare for the upcoming Tuesday evening's chat. Thank you to everyone who joined us last week and we hope that you will join us again.





Looking for the recap? Click on the image below.



On Tuesday, January 5, our #2ndaryELA chat will focus on goal setting and re-establishing your classroom.

The Format:
8:00 Intros: What and where do you teach? Include a link to your blog if you have one. #2ndaryELA
8:05 Q1: How do you re-establish classroom expectations after the holiday break? #2ndaryELA
8:10 Q2: What do you students struggle with the most after being away from school? How do you support them? #2ndaryELA
8:15 Q3: What types of goals do you encourage students to set for the new year? #2ndaryELA
8:20 Q4: What goal setting activities do you do with your students? #2ndaryELA
8:25 Q5: Share some goal setting or classroom management resources that you find helpful. #2ndaryELA

The Directions:
1. Log into Twitter on Tuesday from 8-8:30 PM EST.
2. Search for tweets with the hashtag #2ndaryELA in the search bar. Make sure to click “All tweets.”
3. Introductions are for the first 5 minutes.
4. Starting at 8:05 (@literarymaven or @2peasandadog) will post questions every 5 minutes using the format Q1, Q2, Q3, etc. and the hashtag #2ndaryELA.
5. Respond to questions using the format A1, A2, A3, etc. with #2ndaryELA.
6. Follow any teachers responding and who are also using #2ndaryELA.
7. Like and respond to other teachers' tweets.

You can schedule your responses to the questions ahead of time using a scheduler like TweetDeck or HootSuite (but don't forget to use A1, A2, etc. and #2ndaryELA). Links are encouraged, so be sure to use a link shortener like tinyurl, bitly, goo.gl or ow.ly Just visit one of those links and paste your long link to shorten it for Twitter. Using images is also encouraged when relevant.

New to chats? Here are the rules:
1. Stay on topic & stay positive!
2. Please do not post or promote paid products unless specifically asked.
3. If you arrive late, try to look through other posts before beginning.
4. Feel free to just read, like, and/or retweet.
5. Always use our hashtag #2ndaryELA, including in your replies to others.
6. Make sure your twitter feed is set to public. (Also keep in mind that Twitter is completely public – that means students, parents, and administrators can and will read what you tweet.)

Be sure to spread the word to any teacher friends who might be interested in joining us as well. We look forward to chatting with you Tuesday evening!
Get caught up on past chats here: