Four Back-to-School Diagnostic Assignments for Secondary ELA

Assessing individual student skills at the beginning of the school year is important for teachers to establish a baseline from which to monitor student growth.  This is especially important at the secondary level where we have an influx of students from diverse educational backgrounds all converging into one larger secondary school. 

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10 Reasons Secondary Teachers Should Try Reading & Writing Workshop

We all have our own curriculum, our own teaching teams, our own way of doing things but it's summer vacation and time to ponder other options! This article is meant for secondary teachers who are on the fence about whether to try reading and writing workshop in their class next year. Below you'll find ten convincing (I hope) reasons why you should definitely give workshop a chance! 

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Starting the School Year with Literary Analysis Writing- Why I Do It, and Why You Should Too!

I frequently ask students to show their understanding of the various texts we read through a literary analysis paragraph or essay. I prefer this method of assessment over the traditional standardized, multiple choice tests to assess reading. Within a literary analysis, students are required to think deeply about a given text, then make inferences and provide evidence to support that inference. Not only does the skill of drafting a quality literary analysis response support students in high school English classes, but will essentially define much of their English coursework in college.

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9 Ways to Get Secondary Students to Enjoy Writing

How can teachers help older students enjoy writing? Negativity and reluctance is a mindset that is established early on. However, in middle and high school, certain teaching approaches and strategies can help to change the way students view themselves as writers. Create a positive writing culture and maintain it through the year. These nine approaches can help.

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Prompt Sticks Reflection Game: An Interactive Way to Reflect Back on the School Year

There are lots of creative ways to facilitate reflection at the end of the school year.  Integrating novelty into any lesson makes it more interesting, and the same concept applies to reflection questions.  So I set out to create an interactive "Prompt Sticks" Reflection Question game to get students more interested in assessing their learning at the end of the school year. 

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Writing Thank You Emails to Spread Kindness

Engage secondary students in a meaningful real-world writing activity at the end of the school year - or any time! Writing thank you letters is an important life skill, but it's becoming overshadowed by emails and text messages. Teach middle and high school students about how to spread love and kindness by encouraging others through writing.

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Tone Tunes: Using Music to Teach Tone in Poetry

Being able to decipher the tone of a piece of writing is crucial to being able to decipher the thematic message of a text.  This is absolutely true for analyzing poetry. 

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Grammar Games for the Secondary Classroom

As an English teacher, I know how important mechanics, grammar, and punctuation are to any writing endeavor. However, I also know how dry and boring these lessons can become if we simply diagram sentences with students. For years, I have been searching for ways to ‘gamify’ my classroom a bit more to increase engagement in content learning. Last month, I wrote about my argument games- five games to incorporate into your argument/persuasive writing unit. Like these games, my grammar games work to practice these challenging skills in a fun, collaborative, and even competitive manner. Check these out to ‘gamify’ your grammar lessons and get your students excited about sentence structure and punctuation!

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My 5 Favorite Writing Mini Lessons for Secondary Classrooms

It may come as a surprise to you that my favorite mini lessons are nothing fancy. Rather, they are lessons I tend to come back to again and again throughout the year because students desperately need them. They are lessons that focus less on content and more on behavior and the structure of writing workshop. Writing and reading workshop started in the elementary classroom and many secondary teachers are realizing the benefits to this style of teaching reading and writing. If you are one of those secondary teachers then you should definitely teach these mini lessons!

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FIVE Unique Valentine's Day Lessons to Target Essential Skills in Secondary Classes

Valentine's Day provides an opportunity during the month of February to focus on one of the most powerful topics in literature and art:  LOVE.  Love is as polarizing as the Valentine's Day holiday itself: some love it, and some hate it.  Nonetheless...

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