September 29, 2017

Teaching Literary Elements: Character

When learning about characterization and character types, students begin to examine an author's craft. Why did the author describe the character that way? What does the author's description allow the reader to learn about a character indirectly? Whether you are teaching these as new concepts for your students, diving in deeper, or just reviewing the basics, you'll find activities and resources below that will benefit all levels of students.

Terms to Teach
At the start of my teaching career, I taught primarily ninth grade students at an urban, Title 1 high school. My students came from a variety of K-8 schools, which meant they came with varying English Language Arts experiences. To ensure that all of my students started high school with a strong foundation in the literary elements, I found it best to give direct instruction followed by ample opportunities to apply terms and practice skills.

During my direct instruction, I introduced students to the following terms: direct and indirect characterization, protagonist, antagonist, and round, flat, dynamic, static, and stock characters. Many of my students were unaccustomed to taking notes so I provided them with a guided note taking template. This three column sheet provided a structured space for the term, definition, and examples.

Activities for Reinforcement
Before applying these newly learned terms to a short story or novel, I like to give my students opportunities to practice using shorter texts or media. For character, using short video clips provides great visual reinforcement. I have collected examples of character development in this playlist. I play a few and have students identify any character types they spot: protagonist, antagonist, and round, flat, dynamic, static, and stock characters.We also discuss the traits of different characters and how those traits are developed through dialogue, action, appearance, etc. I then have students select one of the clips and write a paragraph or two of what that character development would look like in a book instead of a movie.

When learning about characterization and character types, students begin to examine an author's

If I have students who are still struggling to identify the different methods of characterization after a few practice opportunities, I pull them into a small group and do some "drill and kill" with these free characterization practice handouts. In a small group, I can get a better understanding of where the root of their confusion is and give them immediate feedback as they work through a series of examples.

Incorporating Movement and Hands-on Activities
One year I taught at an all boys school so giving them opportunities to move around and get some of that energy out was a must. Using stations focused on conflict and characterization is one way I did that. I pushed together desks, but you can also use tables, to set up six stations around the room. At each station, students completed activities such as matching terms and definitions and categorizing types of characterization. Because all of the station activities involve matching, sorting, or sequencing, they are easy to check and offer feedback to students on their mistakes. I recently updated those stations to include a digital option as well.

Another way to incorporate movement is having students act out different character traits: friendly, grouchy, determined, lazy, tidy, disorganized, etc. To make this a little more challenging, I will limit the ways in which they can show this trait, i.e. only through actions, only though thoughts, etc. I'll have other students try to identify the trait and the method of characterization.

Texts to Read
I often teach character along with conflict, so my favorite short stories are the same for both literary elements: "Thank You M'am" by Langston Hughes and "The Lady or the Tiger?" by Frank Stockton. Both of the stories offer complex characters.

In "Thank You M'am," a young man tries to rob an elderly woman, who turns out to be not so helpless and in the end, shows tremendous kindness to her assailant. The story can lead to interesting discussions about antagonists; sometimes a story has more than one, sometimes an antagonist is not a "bad person," and sometimes the protagonist of a story is his/her own antagonist.

When learning about characterization and character types, students begin to examine an author's

In "The Lady or the Tiger?" a princess must decide whether her lover will be married off to another woman or mauled to death by a tiger because her father, a barbaric king, disapproves of her relationship with a commoner.  Students are desperate to know to which door the princess sent her lover and go through the short story with a fine tooth comb looking for evidence to support their belief about whether she sent him to the lady or the tiger.

Creative Application
Once students seem comfortable with the terms or if students need a challenge, I introduce students to a digital breakout, "Character Witness" for additional practice. A digital breakout is an online scavenger hunt-like game where players use teamwork and critical thinking to solve a series of challenging puzzles in order to open a series of locks.

When learning about characterization and character types, students begin to examine an author's

In this breakout, students are asked to serve as a character witness for a friend who has been accused of a crime he didn't commit. As a character witness, students will testify on his behalf about his positive traits, high moral standards, and upstanding reputation in their community. Since they've never done this before, their friend's lawyer sent them some notes on what to say, which are saved on a password protected flash drive. Students have to interact with a variety of text and media to solve a series of puzzles and and help prove their friend's innocence.

In addition to needing content knowledge to successfully complete the game, breakouts require students to think critically, communicate, collaborate, and use creativity. I also love breakouts because they provide students with many opportunities to fail and try again. Every unsuccessful attempt to open a lock forces them to reexamine their information and their thinking.

Assessment
While many of the activities described above allow students to show their understanding of skills and terms, as a summative assessment I use a set of text-based assessments, each with a reading passage and 10 multiple choice questions, to assess my students’ knowledge of characterization and character types. 

When learning about characterization and character types, students begin to examine an author's

The variety of passages and text complexity levels allows me to retest students as needed and make accommodations for struggling readers. The variety was also helpful in the years that I had classes whose eyes tended to wander during quizzes or tests.

You can find all of my resources for teaching character here.


September 25, 2017

On My Bookshelf: Reached by Ally Condie

In Reached, the third book in the Matched trilogy, the action picks back up after a slow second installment. Cassia, Ky, and Xander are all working for the Rising, but in separate roles. Cassia is undercover, still working as a sorter, Xander is also undercover, still working in the medical field, while Ky is working directly with the rebellion as a pilot. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: Cassia’s journey began with an error, a momentary glitch in the otherwise perfect fa├žade of the Society. After crossing canyons to break free, she waits, silk and paper smuggled against her skin, ready for the final chapter.

The wait is over.

One young woman has raged against those who threaten to keep away what matters most—family, love, choice. Her revolution is about to explode into full-scale rebellion. As an incurable plague sweeps through the Society, Cassia races to save both the lives and freedom of those she loves. With exquisite prose, the emotionally gripping conclusion to the international–bestselling Matched trilogy returns Cassia, Ky, and Xander to the Society to save the one thing they have been denied for so long, the power to choose.

Why I liked it: In Reached, the third book in the Matched trilogy, the action picks back up after a slow second installment. Cassia, Ky, and Xander are all working for the Rising, but in separate roles. Cassia is undercover, still working as a sorter, Xander is also undercover, still working in the medical field, while Ky is working directly with the rebellion as a pilot. While Crossed only focused on Ky and Cassia's perspectives, Reached also brings in Xander's point of view which breaks up some of the lovey dovey gushing in Crossed.
In Reached, the third book in the Matched trilogy, the action picks back up after a slow second installment. Cassia, Ky, and Xander are all working for the Rising, but in separate roles. Cassia is undercover, still working as a sorter, Xander is also undercover, still working in the medical field, while Ky is working directly with the rebellion as a pilot. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

As a plague spreads within Society, the Rising is able to take over with little resistance and offers a cure. Complications arise when the plague mutates and the Rising needs to find a new cure. The Pilot, the leader of the Rising, calls in Cassia, Ky, and Xander for their help in finding the new cure as he believes the three hold a greater power and purpose. There are some tense moments on the mission, but in the end they are successful.


Classroom application: Just like Matched and Crossed, I appreciated that Reached was "clean" and truly appropriate for a middle school or high school classroom library (no sexual content or heavy violence).

Cassia, Ky, and Xander's participation in the Rising could be compared to work done by spies or resistance groups during real wars. The spread of the plague and the power of providing a cure for it could be connected to the idea of biomedical warfare. Students could research the likelihood of an attack occurring and the effects that kind of event might have.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Reached 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.

September 24, 2017

#2ndaryELA Twitter Chat Topic: Informational & Argument Writing

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about informational and argument writing.
Brynn Allison, The Literary Maven & Kristy, 2 Peas and a Dog host #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 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.


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.

On Tuesday, September 26, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about informational and argument writing.

The Format:
8:00 – What and where do you teach? Include a link to your blog if you have one. #2ndaryELA
8:05 Q1: How do you teach the difference between informational and argument writing? #2ndaryELA
8:10 Q2: What are your students’ favorite assignments for either or both? #2ndaryELA
8:15 Q3: What are students’ struggles with these types of writing? #2ndaryELA
8:20 Q4: How do you address these struggles? #2ndaryELA
8:25 Q5: Share tips for getting students to avoid plagiarism and use proper citation in these types of writing. #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 “Latest.”
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.)

You can also check out a quick video tutorial in this blog post.

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:

September 22, 2017

Literature Circles for Middle & High School Students

In literature circles, small groups of students gather together to discuss a piece of literature in depth. In this #2ndaryELA Twitter chat, middle school and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed how they select novels to use. Teachers also shared popular themes for connecting novel choices. Read through the chat for ideas to implement in your own classroom.
This #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about using literature circles. Middle school and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed how they select novels to use. Teachers also shared popular themes for connecting novel choices.

Read through the chat below to find suggested lists of titles. You'll get ideas about how to create student groups.  You'll also find ways to assess and hold students accountable for reading.

Hope you'll join us next week for another chat. 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, links, photos, etc. that will enhance our instruction.

September 18, 2017

On My Bookshelf: The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

The Other Wes Moore was one of those books I couldn't put down; I read it cover to cover in one sitting. I found the premise of the book absolutely fascinating: two men with the same name, born in the same place, and roughly the same age, but with very different fates. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: Two kids named Wes Moore were born blocks apart within a year of each other. Both grew up fatherless in similar Baltimore neighborhoods and had difficult childhoods; both hung out on street corners with their crews; both ran into trouble with the police. How, then, did one grow up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader, while the other ended up a convicted murderer serving a life sentence? Wes Moore, the author of this fascinating book, sets out to answer this profound question. In alternating narratives that take readers from heart-wrenching losses to moments of surprising redemption, The Other Wes Moore tells the story of a generation of boys trying to find their way in a hostile world.

"The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his."

Why I liked it: The Other Wes Moore was one of those books I couldn't put down; I read it cover to cover in one sitting. I found the premise of the book absolutely fascinating: two men with the same name, born in the same place, and roughly the same age, but with very different fates. As a teacher who has predominantly worked in urban areas, I saw the outcomes for the two Wes Moores to be similar to the challenges and possibilities for my own students.
The Other Wes Moore was one of those books I couldn't put down; I read it cover to cover in one sitting. I found the premise of the book absolutely fascinating: two men with the same name, born in the same place, and roughly the same age, but with very different fates. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

While most of us like an ending that neatly wraps everything up, I appreciated that the author didn't give a conclusive answer for why their two lives turned out differently. While there are obvious factors present (education, mentors, access to money, etc.), the author leaves it up to the reader to try to pinpoint the moment or decision that made the difference in each man's life.

Classroom application: This nonfiction text would be a great addition to a unit on memoir or a literature circle themes around choices. The original version of the text would be appropriate for upper high school, and a young adult adaptation, Discovering Wes Moore, is marketed at grades 7 and up.

During or after reading, it would be interesting to have students create a timeline of the moments and decisions in their lives that have had either a significant positive or negative effect on the direction of their life.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Other Wes Moore 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.

September 17, 2017

#2ndaryELA Twitter Chat Topic: Literature Circles

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about literature circles.
Brynn Allison, The Literary Maven & Kristy, 2 Peas and a Dog host #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 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.



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.

On Tuesday, September 19, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about using literature circles in the English Language Arts classroom.

The Format:
8:00 – What and where do you teach? Include a link to your blog if you have one. #2ndaryELA
8:05 Q1: How do you select books for literature circles? By theme? Genre? #2ndaryELA
8:10 Q2: Share the titles of your favorite literature circles. #2ndaryELA
8:15 Q3: Do you assign students to groups or allow them to choose? How do you prevent too few or too many students in a group? #2ndaryELA
8:20 Q4: How do you hold students accountable for their reading? Are they assigned roles? #2ndaryELA
8:25 Q5: How do you assess students during and after reading in literature circles? #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 “Latest.”
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.)

You can also check out a quick video tutorial in this blog post.

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:

September 15, 2017

7 Historical Fiction Titles to Recommend to Your Middle School Students

Historical fiction is my favorite genre to read because I love history (maybe I should have been a social studies teacher). It's also a genre I love to recommend to students because they learn about an issue, event, or time period as they are reading. Here's 7 historical fiction titles, that I've recently read and would recommend to middle school students.
Historical fiction is my favorite genre to read because I love history (maybe I should have been a social studies teacher). It's also a genre I love to recommend to students because they learn about an issue, event, or time period as they are reading. Here's 7 historical fiction titles, that I've recently read and would recommend to middle school students. Click the title of each to read my full review and ideas for using it in the classroom.

1. Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko
Lizzie always feels like the odd girl out at her finishing school in 1900s San Francisco. When disease strikes the city and Chinatown is put under quarantine, Lizzie's worries about fitting in at school are sidelined for larger concerns.

2. Folly by Marthe Jocelyn
Two plucky youngsters navigate Victorian London. James, an orphan, must survive the cold, unfeeling Foundling Hospital and Mary, pushed out of her home by a jealous stepmother, must learn the ins and outs of household employment.

3. Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards
Celestia is vacationing with her socialite family when she meets and falls in love with Peter, a young man working at the hotel as a way out of the coal mines. Their forbidden love is tested and social status matters little when the Johnstown Flood occurs.

4. The Lions of Little Rock by Kristen Levine
This tale about friendship is set against the backdrop of the desegregation of schools in the late 1950s. The color of their skin is not the only difference between Marlee and Elizabeth, but through their friendship, both girls grow and change.

5. The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
Written in a diary format, the novel is a roller coaster of emotions as Joan leaves her family's farm and her father's tyranny at the age of fourteen. She travels to Baltimore where she lucks into a job and marvels at life in the city.

6. Fall Out by Todd Strasser
History is rewritten when the Cuban Missile Crisis escalates into nuclear war. Scott and his family retreat into their bomb shelter along with the neighbors who laughed at the idea.

7. Shooting Kabul by N. H. Senzai
The night that Fadi and his family flee the Taliban's control is full of peril and in one terrible moment, the youngest sister is separated from the family and left behind in Afghanistan. Once in America, Fadi, his parents, and his sister struggle to assimilate while holding on to the hope that Mariam will be found. 

September 11, 2017

On My Bookshelf: Crossed by Ally Condie

Crossed by Ally Condie picks up where Matched, the first book in the trilogy, left off. Cassia is in a work camp in the Outer provinces, still committed to finding Ky and Ky manages to escape from his work camp in hopes of finding Cassia. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: Chasing down an uncertain future, Cassia makes her way to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky--taken by Society to his certain death--only to find that he has escaped into the majestic, but treacherous, canyons. On this wild frontier are glimmers of a different life . . . and the enthralling promise of rebellion. But even as Cassia sacrifices everything to reunite with Ky, ingenious surprises from Xander may change the game. On the edge of Society, nothing is as expected, and crosses and double crosses make Cassia's path more twisted than ever.

Crossed by Ally Condie picks up where Matched, the first book in the trilogy, left off. Cassia is in a work camp in the Outer provinces, still committed to finding Ky and Ky manages to escape from his work camp in hopes of finding Cassia. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
Why I liked it: Crossed picks up where Matched left off. Cassia is in a work camp in the Outer provinces, still committed to finding Ky and Ky manages to escape from his work camp in hopes of finding Cassia. Their journey to find each other and then once united, to find the Rising, the rebellion against the Society, encompasses most of the plot. It is definitely a slower read than the first book in the trilogy.

It was interesting to see other places outside of the Oria Province where Cassia and Ky once lived and a few new characters were introduced. Cassia befriends a girl named Indie from her work camp with whom she later escapes. It is never clear if Indie can be completely trusted or what her motives are, but she sticks with Cassia and is essential in her survival as they travel through the Carving. Similarly, Ky escapes with another young man, Vick, and younger boy, Eli, who accompany him on his journey through the Carving. Vick and Eli are from different provinces and offer different viewpoints on the Society and the Rising.

Classroom application: Just like Matched, I appreciated that Crossed was "clean" and truly appropriate for a middle school or high school classroom library (no sexual content or heavy violence). 

The segregation of certain populations and use of work camps could be compared to Americans internment of the Japanese during WWII or the Germans or Soviets internment of their enemies.

The people living in the carving could be compared to the Pueblo people's cliff dwellings in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Chihuahua, Mexico. Their chosen seclusion from the Society could also be compared to the Amish community in Pennsylvania.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Crossed 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.

September 10, 2017

#2ndaryELA Twitter Topic: Grading Policies and Tips

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about grading policies and tips.
Brynn Allison, The Literary Maven & Kristy, 2 Peas and a Dog host #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 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.


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.

On Tuesday, September 12, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about grading policies and tips.

The Format:
8:00 – What and where do you teach? Include a link to your blog if you have one. #2ndaryELA
8:05 Q1: What student work is graded in your classroom? What isn’t? #2ndaryELA
8:10 Q2: How do you hold students accountable for implementing your feedback? Do students do any revisions/reflections after grading? #2ndaryELA
8:15 Q3: Schools are moving towards standard based grading. Thoughts? Experiences? #2ndaryELA
8:20 Q4: Some schools are moving toward students grading themselves. Thoughts? Experiences? #2ndaryELA
8:25 Q5: What tricks have you learned to help manage the marking load? #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 “Latest.”
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.)

You can also check out a quick video tutorial in this blog post.

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:

September 8, 2017

Implementing the Workshop Model in your Secondary ELA Classroom

Student choice = student buy-in and using a workshop model is a great way to incorporate student choice. This #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about implementing the workshop model in a secondary ELA classroom.  Middle school and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed the role of read alouds and choice reading in instruction. Teachers also shared how they connect whole class lessons to students' choice reading. Read through the chat for ideas to implement in your own classroom.
This #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about implementing the workshop model in a secondary ELA classroom.  Middle school and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed the role of read alouds and choice reading in instruction. Teachers also shared how they connect whole class lessons to students' choice reading.

Read through the chat below to find out how to effectively group students. You'll get ideas about how to structure a writing unit around student choice. You'll also find ways to provide timely feedback to help students improve their writing.

Hope you'll join us next week for another chat. 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, links, photos, etc. that will enhance our instruction.

September 4, 2017

On My Bookshelf: The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb

The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb focuses on the discovery of Nazi Adolf Eichmann in Argentina and the work of Israeli spies to capture him and bring him to trial in Israel. Despite several hiccups, with extremely careful planning, the team is able to successfully complete their mission. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: In 1945, at the end of World War II, Adolf Eichmann, the head of operations for the Nazis' Final Solution, walked into the mountains of Germany and vanished from view. Sixteen years later, an elite team of spies captured him at a bus stop in Argentina and smuggled him to Israel, resulting in one of the century's most important trials -- one that cemented the Holocaust in the public imagination.

THE NAZI HUNTERS is the thrilling and fascinating story of what happened between these two events. Survivor Simon Wiesenthal opened Eichmann's case; a blind Argentinean and his teenage daughter provided crucial information. Finally, the Israeli spies -- many of whom lost family in the Holocaust -- embarked on their daring mission, recounted here in full. Based on the adult bestseller HUNTING EICHMANN, which is now in development as a major film, and illustrated with powerful photos throughout, THE NAZI HUNTERS is a can't-miss work of narrative nonfiction for middle-grade and YA readers.
The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb focuses on the discovery of Nazi Adolf Eichmann in Argentina and the work of Israeli spies to capture him and bring him to trial in Israel. Despite several hiccups, with extremely careful planning, the team is able to successfully complete their mission. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

Why I liked it: I'm a big fan of historical fiction and The Nazi Hunters, written as narrative nonfiction, is just as good, if not better, because it is entirely true. World War II and the Holocaust are also topics of high interest for me, which made this book one I couldn't put down. 

While many Nazis were punished during the Nuremberg Trials, some escaped judgement by fleeing to other countries. The Nazi Hunters focuses on the discovery of Adolf Eichmann in Argentina and the work of Israeli spies to capture him and bring him to trial in Israel. Despite several hiccups, with extremely careful planning, the team is able to successfully complete their mission though they cannot reveal to anyone what they have accomplished. The book is fast paced, packed with action, and full of harrowing moments that leave you holding your breath until they are resolved.


Classroom application: If you are looking to bulk up the nonfiction section of your classroom library, this would be a perfect addition for middle school or high schoolers (there is very little violence). The novel could be used to culminate a unit on World War II and the Holocaust, or as a choice in literature circles themed around crime and justice. 

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

You can find all of my teaching resources for the Holocaust 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.

September 3, 2017

#2ndaryELA Twitter Chat Topic: Reading & Writing Workshop

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about reading and writing workshop.
Brynn Allison, The Literary Maven & Kristy, 2 Peas and a Dog host #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 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.


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.

On Tuesday, September 5, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about using reading and writing workshops in the English Language Arts classroom.

The Format:
8:00 – What and where do you teach? Include a link to your blog if you have one. #2ndaryELA
8:05 Q1: Have you tried strategy grouping to teach your secondary students? How did it go? #2ndaryELA
8:10 Q2: What part do read alouds and choice reading play in your instruction? #2ndaryELA
8:15 Q3: How do you connect whole-class instruction to students' choice reading? #2ndaryELA
8:20 Q4: Does student choice play a significant part in how you structure a writing unit? #2ndaryELA
8:25 Q5: How do you provide timely feedback to help students improve their writing? #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 “Latest.”
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.)

You can also check out a quick video tutorial in this blog post.

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:

September 1, 2017

Teaching Literary Elements: Conflict

Conflict is a term I introduce while teaching plot, but then spend a week diving into the difference between internal and external as well as the different types of external conflicts a character can face. Whether you are teaching these as new concepts for your students, diving in deeper, or just reviewing the basics, read on to find activities and resources that will benefit all levels of students.
Conflict is a term I introduce while teaching plot, but then spend a week diving into the difference between internal and external as well as the different types of external conflicts a character can face. Whether you are teaching these as new concepts for your students, diving in deeper, or just reviewing the basics, you'll find activities and resources below that will benefit all levels of students.

Terms to Teach
At the start of my teaching career, I taught primarily ninth grade students at an urban, Title 1 high school. My students came from a variety of K-8 schools, which meant they came with varying English Language Arts experiences. To ensure that all of my students started high school with a strong foundation in the literary elements, I found it best to give direct instruction followed by ample opportunities to apply terms and practice skills.

During my direct instruction, I introduced students to the following terms: internal and external conflict and person versus self, person, society, and nature. I may mention person versus fate/God, the supernatural, and technology, but focus more on the three main types of external conflict. Many of my students were unaccustomed to taking notes so I provided them with a guided note taking template. This three column sheet provided a structured space for the term, definition, and examples.

Activities for Reinforcement
Before applying these newly learned terms to a short story or novel, I like to give my students opportunities to practice using shorter texts or media. For conflict, using short video clips provides great visual reinforcement. I have collected examples of person versus self, person, society, and nature in this playlist. I play a few and have students identify whether the conflict is internal or external, the two forces in conflict, and whether it is an example of person versus self, person, society, or nature.

Another way I reinforce the types of conflict is by using a menu of activities based on Bloom's Taxonomy. Students choose activities from four different section of the menu: knowledge and comprehension, application and analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Students examine short text examples of different types of conflict and can use their knowledge to complete tasks such as creating an informational poster offering ways for students to deal with internal and external conflicts.

Conflict is a term I introduce while teaching plot, but then spend a week diving into the difference between internal and

If I have students who are still struggling to identify the different types of conflict after a few practice opportunities, I pull them into a small group and do some "drill and kill" with these free conflict practice handouts. In a small group, I can get a better understanding of where the root of their confusion is and give them immediate feedback as they work through a series of examples.

Incorporating Movement and Hands-on Activities
One year I taught at an all boys school so giving them opportunities to move around and get some of that energy out was a must. Using stations focused on conflict and characterization is one way I did that. I pushed together desks, but you can also use tables, to set up six stations around the room. At each station, students completed activities such as matching terms and definitions and categorizing types of conflict. Because all of the station activities involve matching, sorting, or sequencing, they are easy to check and offer feedback to students on their mistakes. I recently updated those stations to include a digital option as well.

Conflict is a term I introduce while teaching plot, but then spend a week diving into the difference between internal and

Another way to incorporate movement is having students act out different types of conflicts and have other students identify whether the conflict is internal or external, the two forces in conflict, and whether it is an example of person versus self, person, society, or nature. To make it more challenging you can do this like charades and not allow students to talk during their skit.

Texts to Read
Conflict is a central part of any story since, as I tell my students, without conflict, nothing exciting would ever happen! My favorite short stories to use when teaching conflict are: "Thank You M'am" by Langston Hughes and "The Lady or the Tiger?" by Frank Stockton. Both of these pieces have several different types of conflict, which allows students multiple opportunities for analysis.

Conflict is a term I introduce while teaching plot, but then spend a week diving into the difference between internal and

In "Thank You M'am," the main character Roger attempts to rob an older woman, Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones, but things turn out much differently than he or the reader expects. His conflict is against Mrs. Jones just as much as it is with himself. In "The Lady or the Tiger?" a princess must decide whether her lover will be married off to another woman or mauled to death by a tiger because her father, the king, disapproves of her relationship with a commoner. The ambiguous ending drives students crazy; they can't believe that there isn't more to the story.

Creative Application
Once students seem comfortable with the terms or if students need a challenge, I introduce students to a digital breakout, "Conflict Resolution Specialist" for additional practice. A digital breakout is an online scavenger hunt-like game where players use teamwork and critical thinking to solve a series of challenging puzzles in order to open a series of locks.

Conflict is a term I introduce while teaching plot, but then spend a week diving into the difference between internal and

In this breakout, students are applying for a position as a conflict resolution specialist for a prestigious company. Since the initial interview went great, they've been called back for a final test of their conflict skills. They have to interact with a variety of text and media to solve a series of puzzles and prove they are a perfect fit for the job.

In addition to needing content knowledge to successfully complete the game, breakouts require students to think critically, communicate, collaborate, and use creativity. I also love breakouts because they provide students with many opportunities to fail and try again. Every unsuccessful attempt to open a lock forces them to reexamine their information and their thinking.

Assessment
While many of the activities described above allow students to show their understanding of skills and terms, as a summative assessment I use a set of text-based assessments, each with a reading passage and 10 multiple choice questions, to assess my students’ knowledge of conflict. 

The variety of passages and text complexity levels allows me to retest students as needed and make accommodations for struggling readers. The variety was also helpful in the years that I had classes whose eyes tended to wander during quizzes or tests.

You can find all of my resources for teaching conflict here.