October 30, 2019

Two Sentence Horror Stories: Build Students' Writing Skills Even on Halloween

This year I am pushing my students to write and rewrite, to look at their word choice and choose stronger verbs and more specific nouns, to add sensory details. On Halloween, we'll do all that and work through the entire writing process in just one class as we write two sentence horror stories.
This year I am pushing my students to write and rewrite, to look at their word choice and choose stronger verbs and more specific nouns, to add sensory details. This Halloween will be no different.

I like to do a writing activity on Halloween because although I teach sixth grade, I think older kids should get to enjoy some holiday fun just like the little ones. Last year I had my students write two sentence horror stories and I'll be doing it again this year. To set the mood, I picked out some spooky music from YouTube. There's a ton of choices out there, but this year I have a bunch of Harry Potter fans so I may use this playlist from the films.

I start out introducing two sentence scary stories by showing students just a few examples. I show them one that uses dialogue, one that is fairly short, and one that has more description. I don't like to show them too many because then they'll struggle to come up with their own ideas. For that same reason, the examples I show are not the the spookiest either. If you are looking for more examples, there's some spine tingling ones here.

After looking at examples, students brainstorm a plot for their two sentence story, responding to a series of questions covering the who, what, when, where, and why? Then students write a first draft.

Next up is peer revisions. Students swap papers with a peer who identifies places to add sensory details, possibilities for stronger verbs, and nouns that could be more specific. After getting a peer's feedback, students write a second draft which must be approved by me before they can write out and decorate a final copy. I put in this approval step mostly to just make sure nothing inappropriate is written, but mostly last year I had to keep telling students their story wasn't actually spooky.

If you'd like to use this lesson, you can find the instructions here and the handout here. Happy writing!

This year I am pushing my students to write and rewrite, to look at their word choice and choose stronger verbs and more specific nouns, to add sensory details. On Halloween, we'll do all that and work through the entire writing process in just one class as we write two sentence horror stories.

An Easy Solution for Tracking Late & Revised Assignments on Google Classroom

I love Google Classroom, but not so much all of the email notifications about student work that clutter up my inbox. Read on for my easy solution to avoiding getting notifications from Google Classroom about late submissions or resubmitted assignments when students turn in an assignment past the due date or redo an assignment.
I love Google Classroom, but not so much all of the email notifications about student work that clutter up my inbox. I try to grade assignments as close to their due date as possible so I know which students have not turned in the assignment and may need a reminder or some motivation to complete it in the form of an email to their parents. This means that if a students turns something in late or edits something, I may have already graded that batch of assignments.

A few times a trimester, I also print out progress reports for students (unfortunately they don't yet have online access to their grades) and have them complete this progress reflection sheet. When students review their progress report and complete the reflection, this brings their attention to any missing assignments or low grades they may have and often causes a wave of students turning in or redoing assignments. (Side note: I allow students to turn in late work and redo assignments up until the end of the trimester; I decided a long time ago it was more important for students to do the work or do it better than it was for me to spend time keeping track of how many days late something was and taking points off).
I love Google Classroom, but not so much all of the email notifications about student work that clutter up my inbox. Read on for my easy solution to avoiding getting notifications from Google Classroom about late submissions or resubmitted assignments when students turn in an assignment past the due date or redo an assignment.

Instead of getting notifications from Google Classroom about late submissions or resubmitted assignments, I keep a list on my whiteboard titled "Please recheck my..." Beneath that header students will list the assignment they would like me to check or recheck, their name, and their class section so I can easily locate the assignment.

The list serves a several purposes. Besides keeping my inbox closer to zero emails, it also brings other students' attention to the fact that these students are hard at work and that they could be too. Once I've regraded an assignment, I just erase it from my list. Students know as long as their name and assignment are up there that I haven't yet graded it and once their name and assignment disappear from the list that I have graded it. This prevents the questions of "did you grade my..." I hope this simple solution helps you manage assignments on Google Classroom as well!

I love Google Classroom, but not so much all of the email notifications about student work that clutter up my inbox. Read on for my easy solution to avoiding getting notifications from Google Classroom about late submissions or resubmitted assignments when students turn in an assignment past the due date or redo an assignment.

October 28, 2019

On My Bookshelf: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo, details life after Amanda begins living her life as a young woman. She is living in an area of the South where many people are religious, few are accepting of anyone different, and even fewer people are "out." She must decide who deserves to know about her past, and more importantly, who she can trust. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret, and she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself, including her past. But Amanda’s terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won't be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It's that at her old school, she used to be Andrew. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life, and her new love?

Why I liked it: After reading Birthday by Meredith Russo, I just had to go back and read her debut novel If I Was Your Girl. Both novels focus on gender identity, but If I Was Your Girl details life after Amanda begins living her life as a young woman, while Birthday centers around the struggle of a young man still trying to define who he is. There are allusions to and some flashbacks to the difficulties Amanda faced as she transitioned from male to female, but this is overall a "safer" plot than Birthday, which the author explains why in the notes at the end of the book. That's not to say that Amanda's new life is without difficulties. She is living in an area of the South where many people are religious, few are accepting of anyone different, and even fewer people are "out."
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo, details life after Amanda begins living her life as a young woman. She is living in an area of the South where many people are religious, few are accepting of anyone different, and even fewer people are "out." She must decide who deserves to know about her past, and more importantly, who she can trust. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

I appreciated the realism of neither of Amanda's parents being able to easily or completely accept her new identity. Amanda goes to live with her father for her final year of high school because of the violent reactions in her hometown to her new identity and her father wavers between being at a loss for words and coming down hard on her (he and her mother had split up years before and his heavy drinking is attributed to his inability to deal with having a "girly" son). Even Amanda's mother, the more accepting of the two, confesses her sadness over losing her little boy.

Classroom application: If I Was Your Girl and Birthday are equally important stories that I would highly recommend adding to your high school classroom library (unfortunately not middle school because of the mature themes and content).

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of If I Was Your Girl 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.

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo, details life after Amanda begins living her life as a young woman. She is living in an area of the South where many people are religious, few are accepting of anyone different, and even fewer people are "out." She must decide who deserves to know about her past, and more importantly, who she can trust. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

October 26, 2019

Teaching Short Stories in the ELA Classroom

Using short stories in the ELA classroom can allow for the exploration of a wider variety of authors and issues than relying solely on novels. In this #2ndaryELA Twitter chat, middle school and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed short story selection and instruction. Read through the chat for ideas to implement in your own classroom.
This #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about short stories. Middle school and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed which short stories they use in which grades. Teachers also shared how they select short stories based on themes and skills.

Scroll down to read through the chat. You'll get ideas about supporting comprehension during reading. You'll also find ideas about skill-based work and engaging activities.

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.




Using short stories in the ELA classroom can allow for the exploration of a wider variety of authors and issues than relying solely on novels. In this #2ndaryELA Twitter chat, middle school and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed short story selection and instruction. Read through the chat for ideas to implement in your own classroom.

October 25, 2019

#2ndaryELA Twitter Chat on Sunday 10/27: Podcasts in the ELA Classroom

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about teaching podcasts in the ELA classroom.
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, October 27, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about podcasting in the ELA Classroom.

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

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:

October 21, 2019

On My Bookshelf: Lu by Jason Reynolds

In Lu by Jason Reynolds, the final of four books in his Track series, the connections between characters continue to be revealed and many events in the plot come full circle. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: Lu was born to be co-captain of the Defenders. Well, actually, he was born albino, but that’s got nothing to do with being a track star. Lu has swagger, plus the talent to back it up, and with all that—not to mention the gold chains and diamond earrings—no one’s gonna outshine him.

Lu knows he can lead Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and the team to victory at the championships, but it might not be as easy as it seems. Suddenly, there are hurdles in Lu’s way—literally and not-so-literally—and Lu needs to figure out, fast, what winning the gold really means.

Why I liked it: Jason Reynolds did not disappoint with Luthe fourth and final book in his Track series. While book 3, Sunny, didn't grab me like books 1 and 2, Ghost and Patina, book 4 was on fire! I loved how so many of the events in the series came full circle and the connections between characters that continued to be revealed.
In Lu by Jason Reynolds, the final of four books in his Track series, the connections between characters continue to be revealed and many events in the plot come full circle. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

I particularly loved the character development of Lu and his parents. Lu is albino and waffles between being overly confident as team co-captain and being terrified of Kevin, a boy who used to bully him. His father, also once involved in track, used to sell drugs, but now works trying to help others get clean and turn their lives around. His mother, pregnant with Lu's unexpected baby sister, runs her own business creating art out of fruit and since it is summer, Lu is her number one helper. I appreciated the love between Lu's parents despite their awareness of their flaws.

Classroom application: Like the rest of the Track series, I would recommend Lu for middle school and up. If your students are nearing the end of the Track series, Jason Reynolds has plenty of other amazing books for middle school students like As Brave As You and Long Way Down.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Lu 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 Lu by Jason Reynolds, the final of four books in his Track series, the connections between characters continue to be revealed and many events in the plot come full circle. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

October 18, 2019

#2ndaryELA Twitter Chat on Sunday 10/20: Teaching Short Stories

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about teaching short stories.
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, October 20, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about teaching short stories.

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

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:

October 15, 2019

Novel Choices for Holocaust Themed Literature Circles in Middle School


As the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles each year, teaching a Holocaust unit in my English Language Arts class continues to be a top priority. While there are no direct connections to the Holocaust in the sixth grade curriculum, we decided to tie Holocaust themed literature circles to the thematic collection titled "decisions that matter." Read on for the six texts we chose and why.
As a high school teacher I taught a Holocaust unit each year centered around Night by Elie Wiesel. You can read about many of the activities I used to help students make personal connections to the topic here. Each year I had the good fortune of having a local holocaust survivor, David Tuck, come and speak to my students. You can find his story here.

When I returned to a classroom teacher role, teaching a Holocaust unit to my sixth graders was one of my top priorities, especially since the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles each year. My school purchased the Collections curriculum and this was our first year using it. While there are no direct connections to the Holocaust included in any of the thematic collections for sixth grade, we decided to tie Holocaust themed literature circles to the collection titled "decisions that matter."

For that reason, all of the texts we chose involved a main character making important choices during the Holocaust and WWII. As we selected the novels that our students would choose from, we included a range of reading levels/Lexiles as well as lengths and tried to balance male and female protagonists. While violence and death are a part of most Holocaust narratives, we also tried to limit the amount of graphic violence depicted in the texts we chose.

Below you'll find the six texts we used for our literature circles with a brief summary. Clicking on each of the linked titles will take you to my full review of the book.

As the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles each year, teaching a Holocaust unit in my English Language Arts class continues to be a top priority. While there are no direct connections to the Holocaust in the sixth grade curriculum, we decided to tie Holocaust themed literature circles to the thematic collection titled "decisions that matter." Read on for the six texts we chose and why.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Reading level Z+, Lexile level 730
Liesel has a rough start with her foster family. She's been abandoned by her mother, her father is an unknown and her younger brother is dead. Her foster mother is as loud and brash as her foster father is quiet. But as the war progresses, Liesel finds friendship is some unexpected places.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Reading level U, Lexile level 670
The plot of Number the Stars is a delicate balance between tender moments between friends and families and the danger that surrounds them. When the Nazis begin rounding up the Jews, Annemarie's family temporarily takes in her best friend Ellen. Annemarie goes to great lengths to protect both her best friend and her own family.

Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli
Reading level Y, Lexile level 510
Misha knows nothing: where his family is, where he came from, not even his own name. He joins a group of ragtag orphan boys, most of them Jewish who roam the city, eating and sleeping where they can, until the Warsaw ghetto is built and closed off from the rest of the city.

Hitler's Canary by Sandi Toksvig
Lexile level 810
Based on a true story, this suspenseful, action-packed narrative describes one family's efforts to help with the resistance in Denmark. The novel was filled with colorful characters who illustrate a range of responses to WWII and the treatment of the Jews by Nazi Germany.

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson 
Reading level W, Lexile level 1000
This memoir recounts the author's experiences during the Holocaust, first in the Krakow ghetto and then in a concentration camp. Leon survived largely because  he and his family were lucky enough to work for Oskar Schindler.

The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti 
Reading Level Y, Lexile level 760
This novel is based on the true story of Helmuth Hübener, the youngest person to be sentenced to death (by guillotine) by the Nazis during World War II. As Hitler rises to power, Helmuth becomes increasingly uncomfortable with what it means to be a German.

You can find all of my resources for teaching 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.

As the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles each year, teaching a Holocaust unit in my English Language Arts class continues to be a top priority. While there are no direct connections to the Holocaust in the sixth grade curriculum, we decided to tie Holocaust themed literature circles to the thematic collection titled "decisions that matter." Read on for the six texts we chose and why.

October 14, 2019

On My Bookshelf: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

In The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, set during World War II, Liesel has a rough start with her foster family. She's been abandoned by her mother, her father is an unknown and her younger brother is dead. Her foster mother is as loud and brash as her foster father is quiet. But as the war progresses, Liesel finds friendship is some unexpected places. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: When Death has a story to tell, you listen.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

Why I liked it: The Book Thief  is one of those books that can restore your faith in humanity because despite the terrible conditions of the time period, many of the characters are still able to be truly good people. Liesel has a rough start with her foster family. She is unsure where her mother is now and her brother died on the journey to their placement. Her new "mama" is gruff and takes no nonsense, while her new "papa" is quiet and seemingly subservient to his wife. Liesel has had little education and is embarrassed by her teacher for her inability to read on her first day of school.

But not all is dark. Liesel's new next door neighbor, Rudy, takes her under his wing, walking with her to and from school and including her in the neighborhood soccer matches. Liesel's papa begins to teacher her how to read. Liesel finds a friend in the mayor's wife, who allows her to take books from her personal library, and in Max, the Jewish young man Liesel's foster family is hiding in their basement.
In The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, set during World War II, Liesel has a rough start with her foster family. She's been abandoned by her mother, her father is an unknown and her younger brother is dead. Her foster mother is as loud and brash as her foster father is quiet. But as the war progresses, Liesel finds friendship is some unexpected places. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

And not all is light. Rudy and Liesel draw the ire of other members of the Hitler Youth group for not bending to their will. Max is forced to leave his hiding place when Liesel's papa interferes with a march of Jewish prisoners through the town. Rudy's father is conscripted and shortly after Liesel's papa is as well. More and more frequently, air raids are forcing the people in the town to spend their nights huddled in shelters. I won't give away the ending, but it is filled with much sadness, but also some happiness.

Classroom application: We chose The Book Thief as one of the six options for our literature circles this spring. All of the texts were set during the Holocaust and WWII and connected to the theme of "decisions that matter." The Book Thief was our most challenging choice of our six options because of the text complexity as well as the length, but I didn't dissuade any student who wanted to read it because it is such a beautifully written story. There is some violence and death, but because the book is set outside of a ghetto or concentration camp, the content is overall less disturbing than some other Holocaust books. Our students enjoyed watch the film version of book

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Book Thief 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 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, set during World War II, Liesel has a rough start with her foster family. She's been abandoned by her mother, her father is an unknown and her younger brother is dead. Her foster mother is as loud and brash as her foster father is quiet. But as the war progresses, Liesel finds friendship is some unexpected places. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

October 12, 2019

Writing Transformed: Meaningful Revision & Editing Activities

Are you struggling to get students to make meaningful changes to their writing? Do your students want their first draft to be their final one? This #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about the revising and editing stages of the writing process. Middle school and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed how this instruction happens in their classrooms. Teachers also shared rubrics, checklists, peer activities, and technology resources. Read through the chat for ideas to implement in your own classroom.
This #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about the revising and editing stages of the writing process. Middle school and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed how this instruction happens in their classrooms. Teachers also shared helpful rubrics and checklists to accomplish these tasks.

Scroll down to read through the chat. You'll get ideas about the role teachers play in revising and editing process. You'll also find ways to incorporate peers activities and technology.

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.



Are you struggling to get students to make meaningful changes to their writing? Do your students want their first draft to be their final one? This #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about the revising and editing stages of the writing process. Middle school and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed how this instruction happens in their classrooms. Teachers also shared rubrics, checklists, peer activities, and technology resources. Read through the chat for ideas to implement in your own classroom.

October 11, 2019

#2ndaryELA Twitter Chat on Sunday 10/13: Differentiation and Students who are Gifted

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about differentiation and students who are gifted.
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, October 13, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about differentiation and students who are gifted.

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about differentiation and students who are gifted.

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:

October 7, 2019

On My Bookshelf: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

The plot of Number the Stars by Lois Lowry is a delicate balance between tender moments between friends and families and the danger that surrounds them. When the Nazis begin rounding up the Jews, Annemarie's family temporarily takes in her best friend Ellen. Annemarie goes to great lengths to protect both her best friend and her own family. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: As the German troops begin their campaign to "relocate" all the Jews of Denmark, Annemarie Johansen’s family takes in Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her as part of the family.

Through the eyes of ten-year-old Annemarie, we watch as the Danish Resistance smuggles almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden. The heroism of an entire nation reminds us that there was pride and human decency in the world even during a time of terror and war.

Why I liked it: Number the Stars like Hitler's Canaryfocuses on the Danish resistance movement which was able to successfully evacuate nearly 100% of Denmark's Jewish population to Sweden by boat. Also similar to Hitler's Canary, it is based on a true story and focuses on the measures young people took to protect their friends.
The plot of Number the Stars by Lois Lowry is a delicate balance between tender moments between friends and families and the danger that surrounds them. When the Nazis begin rounding up the Jews, Annemarie's family temporarily takes in her best friend Ellen. Annemarie goes to great lengths to protect both her best friend and her own family. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

The plot of Number the Stars is a delicate balance between tender moments between friends and families and the danger that surrounds them. When the Nazis begin rounding up the Jews, Annemarie's family temporarily takes in her best friend Ellen to be later reunited with her parents and escape the country. There's a frightening incident when Nazis search Annemarie's family's apartment and Ellen hides in plain sight by pretending to be Annemarie's deceased sister. Tension mounts again when Annemarie is stopped by Nazi soldiers as she rushes to deliver a chemical covered napkin to her uncle, on whose boat Jewish families are hiding before being transported across the sea to Sweden. Annemarie goes to great lengths to protect both her best friend and her own family.

Classroom application: We chose Number the Stars as one of the six options for our literature circles this spring. While it was our shortest and easiest read of the six choices offered to our students, I didn't dissuade any students from reading it because it is such an amazing story. All six of the texts were set during the Holocaust and WWII and connected to the theme of "decisions that matter." Number the Stars would be a great pairing with Hitler's Canary as both focus on the events in Denmark during WWII but one from a young girl's perspective and one from a boy's perspective. 

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Number the Stars 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 plot of Number the Stars by Lois Lowry is a delicate balance between tender moments between friends and families and the danger that surrounds them. When the Nazis begin rounding up the Jews, Annemarie's family temporarily takes in her best friend Ellen. Annemarie goes to great lengths to protect both her best friend and her own family. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

October 4, 2019

#2ndaryELA Twitter Chat on Sunday 10/6: Revising and Editing Student Writing

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about revising and editing student writing.
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, October 6, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about revising and editing student writing.

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

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: