Why You Should Teach ELA in Thematic Units






When I first started teaching, I did what lots of ELA teachers do: I started at the beginning and then went from there. In other words, I taught literature chronologically.  What better way for students to understand the comprehensive sweep of literature written in English, right?  Well, it often felt like I was just stringing together a list of texts, and, as happens to many people, I never really got to the stuff that was written in the last 100

Read more

6 Tips For Teaching Shakespeare






Teaching Shakespeare is truly the highlight of the school year for me.  And it’s not only because  I love the Bard so much that I have tattooed a favorite quote on my arm.  It’s also because whether I’m teaching my beloved unit on Twelfth Night or any other play, the Shakespeare unit is a highlight for my students as well.  It wasn’t always that way, and I have learned a lot over the years about how not to teach the

Read more

5 Reasons To Teach With Mentor Texts






Starting a writing unit by examining great examples of the kinds of writing we’ll be doing is one of those ideas that I seem to forget and remember over and over again.  Maybe it’s because I rush through writing plans, anxious to get to the assignment so that students can start working.  Maybe it’s the effort of looking for good examples.  Perhaps it’s the mistake of believing that my explanation is plenty and students shouldn’t need anything more.  Or possibly

Read more

4 Units to Achieve Back-To-School Goals 






As a teacher, you might have just a few goals for the beginning of the school year: set the tone for your classroom; inspire students to work harder; establish rigor and expectations; teach students to think independently.  Oh, and don’t forget win over students by showing them how much fun they’ll be having this year, and, when you teach high school, getting to know over 100 new people as fast as possible. Seems simple, right? Every year, I have tried

Read more

How I Teach My End-of-the-Year Poetry Project






The last few days before summer vacation can be a slow painful countdown—or they can be an opportunity to try something new, get students working independently, and give teachers a break.  It’s not that teachers are sick of their students (okay, maybe just a little bit) it’s that we’re all ready for something a little bit different.  For me, that sometimes means finishing off the term with an engaging poetry unit.   My End Of The Year Poetry Unit is

Read more

5 Ideas For Fun And Meaningful Creative Writing In The Secondary Classroom






At the beginning of the school year when I let students ask me anything they wanted, I invariably got the question “Will we be doing any creative writing in this class?”  Usually, the kid who asked the question felt that they had not been given enough opportunities for creative writing in their other English classes.  I think that many teachers have good intentions to give their students opportunities to be creative and experiment with different forms, but after all of

Read more

How I Designed My Fake News Lessons Plans






I recently created a week-long unit designed to teach students about digital literacy in the age of fake news.  It’s just the kind of unit that I would have loved to have taught when I was in the classroom, but I never would have had the time to do all of the research that is involved.  (See a preview of the entire product by clicking here and then clicking on preview.) There is a lot of content when it comes

Read more