Tips and ideas for teaching high school ELA

chalkboard with BACK TO SCHOOL; text reads Ideas You Need for a Smooth Back-to-School Season

As hard as it is to believe, summer is almost over, and back to school season is quickly approaching. 🤯 If you’re like me, you’re already planning out coming school year. (Or, you already have it planned out. Type A teachers, I’m looking at you.) 

 

I’ll be heading back for preservice sooner than I’d like to acknowledge. While I still have work to do (don’t we always?) I wanted to share some of my curriculum planning related posts in hopes that it’ll help and inspire you in your own process. 

 

Don’t see what you need here? Drop a comment here or over on Instagram and I’ll be happy to add your concerns and ideas to the “to do” list. 

 

BACK TO SCHOOL IDEAS: SPECIFIC CURRICULUM FOCUSES

Are you teaching American or Brit Lit? If so, then these next few posts are for you. 

American Lit

I’m heading into my second year of teaching American lit after several years of freshmen, and I’m so excited to be back to my “sweet spot”. If this is you, then check out these posts. 

There’s a lot of debate about chronological versus thematic when it comes to specific focuses like American and Brit Lit. While I’ve started making the shift towards the thematic approach (you can follow the process here), I spent several years teaching American Lit chronologically. This post details the order I used when teaching this way. 

 

If you’re interested in canonical works like The Crucible and The Great Gatsby, or more diverse works like Their Eyes Were Watching God and Native American texts, then this post is for you. 

 

One of my favorite units to teach has always been the Dark Romantics  – aka the Gothics. These stories tend to be a hit with students as well. Not only do they tap into and explore the darker side of human nature (and all the angst of being a teenager) but they are ripe for analysis. Teach everything from symbolism to allegory to the author’s choices (sentence structure, diction, the whole shebang). 

 

Some favorites include “The Minister’s Black Veil”, “Young Goodman Brown”, and “The Yellow Wallpaper”. 

Want more American Lit posts? Check them out here

British Lit

picture of red telephone boxes with blue text box reading 7 units for a complete British literature curriculum

As with American Lit, there’s a chronological vs. thematic debate with Brit Lit as well. This post details my order from the last time I taught Brit Lit. After American Lit, Brit is probably my favorite, so I’m hoping to be able to teach it again. If and when that happens, I’ll be making the move to thematic units as well. 

clip art of Anglo-Saxon warrior with sword and shield; blog post title 5 ideas to make teaching Beowulf fun

Most Brit Lit teachers tend to start the year with the Anglo-Saxons and/or Beowulf. The latter has always been a fun one to teach. Students love to boast about themselves – just like Beowulf. And the epic poem is great for teaching conventions of epic poetry and the hero’s journey. 

If you’re wanting to freshen up your Beowulf unit, then this post is a must-read. 

Looking for more Brit Lit posts? Find them here

BACK TO SCHOOL IDEAS FOR ALL CURRICULUMS

Maybe you’re not teaching American or Brit Lit – or you’re teaching them in conjunction with something else. Multiple preps? Been there, done that. 

 

If that’s you, then this set of posts are what you need. 

As mentioned above, I’ve been making the shift from chronological to thematic teaching. In doing so, I’ve had to rethink my ideas about curriculum and what I wanted – and didn’t want – to include. 

 

The post details the 5 things I’m considering as I work on revamping my American Lit curriculum. 

7 Creative Ways to Use Canva in the Classroom

I’m a big fan of incorporating creativity into my lessons and assessments. My school is 1:1, so incorporating technology is easy as well. 

 

Canva has been my go-to for creating graphics for a while, but I’ve started dipping my toe into presentations and classroom decor using Canva as well. Results to be determined. 

 

If you’re looking to incorporate more technology and creativity into your lessons, then head over to this post now. 

learning-stations (1)

One of the ideas in the curriculum revamp post is to include movement. I have been falling in love with stations lately – rather they’re used to introduce material like The Crucible or Their Eyes Were Watching Godor they’re used for close reading passages. 

 

Other uses? Cover all that back-to-school stuff – the syllabus, procedures, grading policies, etc.  Jigsaw excerpts. Review information. Really, the possibilities are endless. 

My last post for you is my quick and easy guide to visual notes. Research has shown that when students interact with and incorporate visuals into their learning, their retention increases. 

 

I’ve used these notes to review sentence structure and rhetorical appeals. They’re also great for introducing new material. 

 So there you have it. Seven blog posts to help ease your mind and jump into planning the upcoming back to school season. 

Questions or comments? Drop them below or message me on IG. 

Best of luck this year. You’ve got this. 

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