August 30, 2019

#2ndaryELA Twitter Chat on Sunday 9/1: Executive Functioning Skills

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about executive functioning skills.Brynn Allison,  The Literary Maven, & Lisa Spangler, Mrs. Spangler in the Middle, host #2ndaryELA on Twitter every Sunday evening from 8 - 8:30 PM EST. #2ndaryELA is a weekly chat for secondary English Language Arts teachers focused on a topic. Every Friday, we post the topic and questions on our blogs to allow you to prepare for the upcoming Sunday evening's chat. Thank you to everyone who joined us last year and we hope that you will join us again.

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 Sunday, September 1, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about executive functioning skills.

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about executive functioning skills.

The Directions:
1. Log into Twitter on Sunday 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 @spanglermiddle) 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 as well as 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 Sunday evening and in our 2ndaryELA Facebook group!

Get caught up on past chats here:

August 26, 2019

On My Bookshelf: Archenemies by Marissa Meyer

In Archenemies by Marissa Meyer, Nova is a villain in disguise as a superhero as she tries to bring down the superheroes ruling the city, but her efforts become more complicated as her feelings for Adrian deepen. Meanwhile, Adrian adds to the Sentinels powers, but then tries to let the Sentinel dies because the Renegades see the Sentinel as a villain. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: Time is running out.
Together, they can save the world.
But they each other’s worst nightmare.

Nova’s double life is about to get a lot more complicated:

As Insomnia, she is a full-fledged member of the Renegades, a syndicate of powerful and beloved superheroes. She works with Adrian’s patrol unit to protect the weak and maintain order in Gatlon City.

As Nightmare, she is an Anarchist - a group of of villains who are determined to destroy the Renegades. Nova wants vengeance against the so-called heroes who once failed her when she needed them most.

But as Nova, her feelings for Adrian are deepening, despite the fact that he is the son of her sworn enemies and, unbeknownst to Nova, he has some dangerous secrets of his own.

In this second installment of the Renegades trilogy, Nova, Adrian, and the rest of their crew – Ruby, Oscar, and Danna -- are faced with escalating crime in Gatlon City, while covert weapons and conflicting missions have Nova and Adrian questioning not only their beliefs about justice, but also the feelings they have for each other.

The line between good and evil has been blurred, but what's clear to them both is that too much power could mean the end of their city – and the world – as they know it.
In Archenemies by Marissa Meyer, Nova is a villain in disguise as a superhero as she tries to bring down the superheroes ruling the city, but her efforts become more complicated as her feelings for Adrian deepen. Meanwhile, Adrian adds to the Sentinels powers, but then tries to let the Sentinel dies because the Renegades see the Sentinel as a villain. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

Why I liked it: I pretty much only read books on my Kindle, and those are books I check out for free through OverDrive, so there was a bit of a wait for ArchenemiesAfter getting sucked in to the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, I was not at all surprised that I couldn't wait to read Archenemies, the second book in her Renegades series.

Nova is a villain in disguise as a superhero as she tries to bring down the superheroes ruling the city, but her efforts become more complicated as her feelings for Adrian deepen. I haven't decided yet if I want the bad ass or romantic side of her to win out.

Adrian adds to the Sentinels powers, but then tries to let the Sentinel dies because the Renegades see the Sentinel as a villain. However, Adrian has trouble letting “dirty” Renegades get away with their bad behavior, and trying to stop them puts the Sentinel back in the spotlight.

Nova and the Anarchists have a new scheme to reunite Art (the fact that he was alive and in hiding was the big surprise at the end of Book 1) with his helmet, so that his powers can be restored to full strength. Meanwhile, the Renegades have developed Agent N, which will neutralize prodigies’ powers. Thanks to Nova, the Anarchists get their hands on the formula and plan to use it against the Renegades.

Max also becomes a central part of the plot. The Health Charm that allows Adrian, and both his fathers to visit him, also protects Nova from the effects of Agent N. Max is injured during Nova’s raid of the Renegades headquarters when she is intercepted by the crew of “dirty” Renegades. Art is captured by the Renegades and when the book ends, it is still unclear if Dianna knows Nova’s true identity.

Classroom application: I would recommend this series for middle school and up, particularly students who are fans of Marvel Comics. 

Some cross curricular connections could be made with events in history. The establishment of government is similar to post-revolution America and the struggle to create an identity for a president that was not the same as a king. The use of Agent N could also be compared to the eugenics movement in America.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Archenemies 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.

In Archenemies by Marissa Meyer, Nova is a villain in disguise as a superhero as she tries to bring down the superheroes ruling the city, but her efforts become more complicated as her feelings for Adrian deepen. Meanwhile, Adrian adds to the Sentinels powers, but then tries to let the Sentinel dies because the Renegades see the Sentinel as a villain. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

August 25, 2019

Developing Student Relationships That Last All Year Long

Research shows that students who feel that they have a strong relationship with their teacher are more likely to stick with challenging tasks, enjoy working hard, and know if is okay to make mistakes. This #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about building those kind of relationships with students. Middle school and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed how to begin getting to know students during the first days of school. Teachers also shared activities to use to continue getting to know students throughout the school year. Read through the chat for ideas to implement in your own classroom.
Research shows that students who feel that they have a strong relationship with their teacher are more likely to stick with challenging tasks, enjoy working hard, and know if is okay to make mistakes. This #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about building those kind of relationships with students. Middle school and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed how to begin getting to know students during the first days of school. Teachers also shared activities to use to continue getting to know students throughout the school year.

Scroll down to read through the chat. You'll get ideas about class meetings.  You'll also find ways to incorporate student interests and feedback into your instruction.

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.





Research shows that students who feel that they have a strong relationship with their teacher are more likely to stick with challenging tasks, enjoy working hard, and know if is okay to make mistakes. This #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about building those kind of relationships with students. Middle school and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed how to begin getting to know students during the first days of school. Teachers also shared activities to use to continue getting to know students throughout the school year. Read through the chat for ideas to implement in your own classroom.

August 24, 2019

Using the Jigsaw Strategy to Practice Summarizing

The jigsaw strategy was my number one technique this past year for turning the chattiness of my class into purposeful, academic conversations. Read on for the specifics of how I use this technique to build up students' summarizing skills.
The jigsaw strategy was my number one technique this past year for turning the chattiness of my class into purposeful, academic conversations.

If you've never used the jigsaw strategy, here's the typical process:
Step 1: Create groups of 4-6 students.
Step 2: Divide the material into 4-6 parts, and assign one student in each group to be responsible for a different part.
Step 3: Give students time read and analyze their assigned part independently.
Step 4: Put students who completed the same part together into an “expert group” to talk about it.
Step 5: Have students return to their original “jigsaw” groups and take turns sharing the parts they’ve become experts on.
Step 6: Have students complete a task or a quiz that relies on them having understood the material from the contributions of all their group members.

I use a fairly similar, but slightly different process. With 24 students in my class, I start with three students in a "focus group" (expert group) and then each of those students reports out to a "discussion group" (jigsaw group) made up of eight students. Having more "expert groups" allows me to break the text we are reading into smaller chunks. 
The jigsaw strategy was my number one technique this past year for turning the chattiness of my class into purposeful, academic conversations. Read on for the specifics of how I use this technique to build up students' summarizing skills.

I make my groups of 3s on 8 sticky notes so I can be sure to balance talkative versus quiet, high level and lower level readers, etc. Then I number off the names on each sticky note to form my larger groups of 8, again paying close attention to the balance of the groups.

Here are the steps I followed with the objective of having students practice summarizing. It's a skill I practice over and over with my students and practicing it in combination with the jigsaw strategy does wonders for comprehension of challenging texts.

Step 1: After a whole class reading, divide the text into 8 chunks and assign each student a chunk
Step 2: Give students a set amount of time to reread their chunk and annotate it. I usually aim for three types of annotations. For this reading, students circled details about setting, underlined characters' names, and put a box around important events.
Step 3: Have students write a one sentence summary of their chunk on an index card.
Step 4: Students meet with the other students assigned the same chunk, share their one sentence summaries, and revise to come up with a "best summary sentence."
Step 5: Each small group divides and becomes part of a larger group. Each student in the group shares his/her revised sentence. The group puts the sentences in order and connects them with transitions to write a full summary of the text.

The biggest difference between my process and the typical one is that students have a concrete task to complete not just at the end of a jigsaw, but when they work independently and with their focus (expert) group. I find that it is critical for preparing students for the work that they will do with their discussion (jigsaw) group.

The jigsaw strategy was my number one technique this past year for turning the chattiness of my class into purposeful, academic conversations. Read on for the specifics of how I use this technique to build up students' summarizing skills.

August 23, 2019

#2ndaryELA Twitter Chat on Sunday 8/25: Building Relationships With Students

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about building relationships with students. Brynn Allison, The Literary Maven, & Lisa Spangler, Mrs. Spangler in the Middle, host #2ndaryELA on Twitter every Sunday evening from 8 - 8:30 PM EST. #2ndaryELA is a weekly chat for secondary English Language Arts teachers focused on a topic. Every Friday, we post the topic and questions on our blogs to allow you to prepare for the upcoming Sunday evening's chat. Thank you to everyone who joined us last year and we hope that you will join us again.

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 Sunday, August 25, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about building relationships with students.

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about building relationships with students.


The Directions:
1. Log into Twitter on Sunday 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 @spanglermiddle) 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 as well as 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 Sunday evening and in our 2ndaryELA Facebook group!

Get caught up on past chats here:

August 19, 2019

On My Bookshelf: Refugee by Alan Gratz

In Refugee by Alan Gratz, narration alternates between three narrators: Josef, fleeing Nazi Germany on the SS St. Louis, Isabel, sailing from Cuba to Florida on a poorly constructed boat, and Mahmoud, seeking asylum in Germany after escaping from war torn Syria. Each of the teenage narrators shares his or her perspective on life as a refugee during three different historical time periods and events. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: JOSEF is a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world . . .
ISABEL is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety in America . . .

MAHMOUD is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe . . .

All three kids go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers -- from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, shocking connections will tie their stories together in the end.

This action-packed novel tackles topics both timely and timeless: courage, survival, and the quest for home.

Why I liked it: There’s been a ton of buzz about Refugee this year thanks to Pernille Ripp and the Global Read Aloud so I’ve been wanting to read the book, but my classroom copy just kept ending up in students’ hands instead of mine.

Well, it was definitely worth the wait. Narration alternates between three narrators: Josef, fleeing Nazi Germany on the SS St. Louis, Isabel, sailing from Cuba to Florida on a poorly constructed boat, and Mahmoud, seeking asylum in Germany after escaping from war torn Syria. Each of the teenage narrators shares his or her perspective on life as a refugee during three different historical time periods and events. While I am familiar with the tragedy of the St. Louis, Refugee offered a personalized account of what the journey and Cuba’s rejection was like for the passengers aboard. I loved the connections that were revealed at the end of the stories as well as the author’s notes at the end about the historical accuracy of events in the novel.
In Refugee by Alan Gratz, narration alternates between three narrators: Josef, fleeing Nazi Germany on the SS St. Louis, Isabel, sailing from Cuba to Florida on a poorly constructed boat, and Mahmoud, seeking asylum in Germany after escaping from war torn Syria. Each of the teenage narrators shares his or her perspective on life as a refugee during three different historical time periods and events. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

Classroom application: Middle school students and up who love action, historical fiction, or war stories will be captivated by this one. The quick chapters that often end with a cliffhanger would make this a great choice for a classroom read aloud. For students who enjoyed this book, I would recommend other historical fiction like any of Alan Gratz’s other books, Escape from Aleppo by N.H. Senzai, and Salt to the Sea by Ruta Septys.

After reading, students could research other refugee groups from other time periods and write their own historical fiction account or do additional research about the SS St. Louis, the Wet Foot, Dry Foot policy, or the ongoing conflict in Syria.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Refugee 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.

In Refugee by Alan Gratz, narration alternates between three narrators: Josef, fleeing Nazi Germany on the SS St. Louis, Isabel, sailing from Cuba to Florida on a poorly constructed boat, and Mahmoud, seeking asylum in Germany after escaping from war torn Syria. Each of the teenage narrators shares his or her perspective on life as a refugee during three different historical time periods and events. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

August 16, 2019

#2ndaryELA Twitter Chat on Sunday 8/14: Student Motivation

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about student motivation.
Brynn Allison, The Literary Maven, & Lisa Spangler, Mrs. Spangler in the Middle, host #2ndaryELA on Twitter every Sunday evening from 8 - 8:30 PM EST. #2ndaryELA is a weekly chat for secondary English Language Arts teachers focused on a topic. Every Friday, we post the topic and questions on our blogs to allow you to prepare for the upcoming Sunday evening's chat. Thank you to everyone who joined us last year and we hope that you will join us again.

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 Sunday, August 18, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about student motivation.

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about student motivation.


The Directions:
1. Log into Twitter on Sunday 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 @spanglermiddle) 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 as well as 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 Sunday evening and in our 2ndaryELA Facebook group!

Get caught up on past chats here:

August 12, 2019

On My Bookshelf: The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe, based on a true story, tells a story of a part of the Holocaust I was previously unaware of. A children’s camp, complete with a school, existed for show for visits from the Red Cross and other international visitors. Within that school were eight hidden books, forbidden for Jews to possess, that Dita was responsible for distributing daily, caring for, and hiding. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the TerezĂ­n ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

Why I liked it: The Librarian of Auschwitz, based on a true story, tells a story of a part of the Holocaust I was previously unaware of. A children’s camp, complete with a school, existed for show for visits from the Red Cross and other international visitors. Within that school were eight hidden books, forbidden for Jews to possess, that Dita was responsible for distributing daily, caring for, and hiding.

Later, Dita’s time at Bergen-Belsen overlapped with the time period that Anne Frank was there. Both of Dita’s parents die, but she was reunited with her best friend and her far friend’s father after the war. She fell in love with and married Otto, one of the teachers in the camp. Reading this interview was a nice supplement to the book.
The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe, based on a true story, tells a story of a part of the Holocaust I was previously unaware of. A children’s camp, complete with a school, existed for show for visits from the Red Cross and other international visitors. Within that school were eight hidden books, forbidden for Jews to possess, that Dita was responsible for distributing daily, caring for, and hiding. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

Classroom application: There’s a variety of individuals, events, and topics, that the book touches on that might be of interest to students for further research, such as Dr. Mengele (Dita is terrified by their brief encounters) and Freddy Hirsch, a leader in the children’s camp. Despite his dedication to caring for the children of the camp, Hirsch was fearful of being rejected by the community because he was a homosexual. It is unclear in the book if he is killed or commits suicide at the time of a possible uprising in the camp. There is also a guard who falls in love with Jewish prisoner and returns for her and her mother after he escapes, prisoners who escape to spread the word about the concentration camps (their story is the plot line of The Auschwitz Escape), and the resistance movement in general.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Librarian of Auschwitz 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.

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe, based on a true story, tells a story of a part of the Holocaust I was previously unaware of. A children’s camp, complete with a school, existed for show for visits from the Red Cross and other international visitors. Within that school were eight hidden books, forbidden for Jews to possess, that Dita was responsible for distributing daily, caring for, and hiding. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

August 11, 2019

Building & Maintaining A Fabulous Classroom Library

There's no one book that is right for all students, which is one of the reasons that having a classroom library with a diverse selection of books is so important. This #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about building and maintaining a fabulous classroom library. Middle school and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed classroom library organization and where to get books inexpensively. Read through the chat for ideas to implement in your own classroom.
This #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about building and maintaining a fabulous classroom library. Middle school and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed how libraries are used in their classrooms. Teachers also shared how their classroom libraries are organized to help students find books of interest.

Scroll down to read through the chat. You'll get ideas about check in/out systems. You'll also find out where teachers get books for their classroom libraries.

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.



There's no one book that is right for all students, which is one of the reasons that having a classroom library with a diverse selection of books is so important. This #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about building and maintaining a fabulous classroom library. Middle school and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed classroom library organization and where to get books inexpensively. Read through the chat for ideas to implement in your own classroom.

3 Ways to Make Your Classroom Library a Reading Magnet

I'm committed to building that community of readers in my classroom. I can't do that without making sure my classroom library is one that will attract students no matter what their reading interests are. Read on for how I make sure my classroom library does that.
Last year I had grand plans about building a community of readers in my classroom. Some of my ideas worked out, some things I started but didn't follow through on, and some things never happened at all. This year I'll be teaching only English Language Arts (last year I also taught math), and I'm just as committed to building that community of readers in my classroom. I can't do that without making sure my classroom library is one that will attract students no matter what their reading interests are. Here's how I make sure my classroom library does that.

Clear Off Those Shelves
Step one is actually getting rid of books. I know it is hard to wrap your head around building a great library by taking books out of it (it was hard for me too), but how will students find great books among the mediocre or not so great ones? I inherited a classroom library when I moved into my classroom (all classrooms in my school have one since we don't have a school library). I am eternally grateful for this inheritance, but that meant that not everything on the shelves should have been in a sixth grade classroom.
I'm committed to building that community of readers in my classroom. I can't do that without making sure my classroom library is one that will attract students no matter what their reading interests are. Read on for how I make sure my classroom library does that.

During the first week of school, as my students were getting to know our classroom library, I asked them to remove any books they thought were too young or too old, or were really beat up. I did this same process myself at the end of the year and ended up with a big box of books to donate and more room on my shelves for new books. I don't use a check out system for my students, but if I did, I would also weed out books at the end of the school year that no one had checked out. As I cleaned off my shelves at the end of the year, I also made a list of any books from series that were missing and ordered them over the summer.

Get Organized
Everyone has an opinion on genre versus alphabetical for organizing their library, and I opt for doing it by genre because I think it is easier for students to find a book they are interested in that way. My ten genres are: historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, dystopia, nonfiction, realistic fiction, humor, romance, action/adventure, and mystery/thrillers.

I've used a sticker system in the past to help keep my genres organized, but I'm not doing that currently because all of the books in my classroom library aren't technically mine. I have held on to a good number that I have inherited. Our PTA also gives us Scholastic Dollars to spend at least twice a year that the school has earned from book fairs, so those books also belong to the school, not me. 

Instead of stickers, I use signs to help organize the genres of my classroom library. They are picture frames (IKEA Tolsby) with a description of the genre on one side and examples of popular middle school books from that genre on the other side. This year I may also add some bins to keep series or more specific topics within a genre together.

I'm committed to building that community of readers in my classroom. I can't do that without making sure my classroom library is one that will attract students no matter what their reading interests are. Read on for how I make sure my classroom library does that.
Spotlight Books
The easiest and my favorite way to get students' eyes on a book is simply to line them up on the ledge of whiteboard. When I add new books to our classroom library, I'll just write "look, new books!" For new books, I also hold book raffles to see who will read it first and did this as well for the one and only First Chapter Friday I did at the start of last school year. I'm hoping to make that a part of my Friday routine this year. 

Other times I'll pull books from our classroom library that I've read and loved, and write a little blurb above the book to spark interest. As the year progresses, you could also have students do the same thing for other students. Peer recommendations are a powerful thing. 

After homeroom and announcements, our students have a WIN (what I need) period for either intervention or enrichment. Once a 6 day cycle, we hold our class meetings during that WIN period. A few times last year, we used that time to share out books we'd read and loved. Then we used the book generator at PickMyYA (which doesn't seem to exist anymore) and the title suggestions on WhatShouldIReadNext to find books we might love. I did some Amazon shopping based on what students came up with and added those to our library.

I'm committed to building that community of readers in my classroom. I can't do that without making sure my classroom library is one that will attract students no matter what their reading interests are. Read on for how I make sure my classroom library does that.

August 9, 2019

#2ndaryELA Twitter Chat on Sunday 8/11: Classroom Libraries

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about classroom libraries.
Brynn Allison, The Literary Maven, & Lisa Spangler, Mrs. Spangler in the Middle, host #2ndaryELA on Twitter every Sunday evening from 8 - 8:30 PM EST. #2ndaryELA is a weekly chat for secondary English Language Arts teachers focused on a topic. Every Friday, we post the topic and questions on our blogs to allow you to prepare for the upcoming Sunday evening's chat. Thank you to everyone who joined us last year and we hope that you will join us again.

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 Sunday, August 11, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about classroom libraries.

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about classroom libraries.

The Directions:
1. Log into Twitter on Sunday 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 @spanglermiddle) 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 as well as 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 Sunday evening and in our 2ndaryELA Facebook group!

Get caught up on past chats here:

August 5, 2019

On My Bookshelf: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

In Renegades by Marissa Meyer, Nova and Adrian (Sketch) are both living double lives, unbeknownst to each other, and each of them hate the other’s other persona. Nova is really Nightmare, part of the Anarchist family, villains with an odd collection of evil powers, like controlling bees and showing people their worst fears. Sketch doubles as the Sentinel, a rogue superhero created from the tattoos that Sketch has drawn on himself. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies―humans with extraordinary abilities―who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone...except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice―and in Nova. But Nova's allegiance is to the villains who have the power to end them both.

Why I liked it: I was a huge fan of The Lunar Chronicles and Heartless, so I was interested to see Marissa Meyer’s move away from fairy tale retellings and into superheroes, though both the Lunar Chronicles and Renegades series are futuristic. Like Cinder, the first book in the Lunar Chronicles series, it took me a little while to buy into the world of the Renegades, but soon enough I was hooked.
In Renegades by Marissa Meyer, Nova and Adrian (Sketch) are both living double lives, unbeknownst to each other, and each of them hate the other’s other persona. Nova is really Nightmare, part of the Anarchist family, villains with an odd collection of evil powers, like controlling bees and showing people their worst fears. Sketch doubles as the Sentinel, a rogue superhero created from the tattoos that Sketch has drawn on himself. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

Nova and Adrian (Sketch) are both living double lives, unbeknownst to each other, and each of them hate the other’s other persona. Nova is really Nightmare, part of the Anarchist family, villains with an odd collection of evil powers, like controlling bees and showing people their worst fears. Sketch doubles as the Sentinel, a rogue superhero created from the tattoos that Sketch has drawn on himself. Nova is spirited and feisty. I couldn’t help but root for her as she attempts to infiltrate the Renegades so that the Anarchists can destroy them, but also root for her relationship with Sketch and her underlying desires to let go of her Anarchist past.

Classroom application: I would recommend this book to middle school students and up, especially comic books fans.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Renegades 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.

In Renegades by Marissa Meyer, Nova and Adrian (Sketch) are both living double lives, unbeknownst to each other, and each of them hate the other’s other persona. Nova is really Nightmare, part of the Anarchist family, villains with an odd collection of evil powers, like controlling bees and showing people their worst fears. Sketch doubles as the Sentinel, a rogue superhero created from the tattoos that Sketch has drawn on himself. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

August 2, 2019

Back to School: Starting the Year Off Strong

Each year, the first days of school mark an opportunity to start fresh and to start strong. In this #2ndaryELA Twitter chat, middle school and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed classroom set up and organization. Teachers also shared their favorite first day activities. Read through the chat for ideas to implement in your own classroom.
This #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about planning for back to school. Middle school and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed classroom set up and organization. Teachers also shared their favorite first day activities.

Click here or scroll down to read through the chat. You'll get ideas about establishing routines and procedures, and building relationships with students. You'll also find out what content other teachers will be teaching at the start of the year.

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.



Each year, the first days of school mark an opportunity to start fresh and to start strong. In this #2ndaryELA Twitter chat, middle school and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed classroom set up and organization. Teachers also shared their favorite first day activities. Read through the chat for ideas to implement in your own classroom.

#2ndaryELA Twitter Chat on Sunday 8/4: Classroom Management

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about classroom management.
Brynn Allison, The Literary Maven, & Lisa Spangler, Mrs. Spangler in the Middle, host #2ndaryELA on Twitter every Sunday evening from 8 - 8:30 PM EST. #2ndaryELA is a weekly chat for secondary English Language Arts teachers focused on a topic. Every Friday, we post the topic and questions on our blogs to allow you to prepare for the upcoming Sunday evening's chat. Thank you to everyone who joined us last year and we hope that you will join us again.

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 Sunday, August 4, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about classroom management.

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about classroom management.

The Directions:
1. Log into Twitter on Sunday 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 @spanglermiddle) 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 as well as 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 Sunday evening and in our 2ndaryELA Facebook group!

Get caught up on past chats here: