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Teaching Advanced Courses with #2ndaryELA

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about teaching advanced courses like AP and Gifted.
Brynn Allison, The Literary Maven, & Lisa Spangler, Mrs. Spangler in the Middle, host #2ndaryELA on Twitter every Tuesday evening from 8 - 8:30 PM EST. #2ndaryELA is a weekly chat for secondary English Language Arts teachers focused on a topic. Every Sunday, we post the topic and questions on our blogs to allow you to prepare for the upcoming Tuesday evening's chat. Thank you to everyone who joined us last week 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 Tuesday, February 12, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about teaching advanced courses like AP and Gifted.

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about teaching advanced courses like AP and Gifted.

The Directions:
1. Log into Twitter on Tuesday 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 @2peasandadog) 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, so be sure to use a link shortener like tinyurlbitlygoo.gl or ow.ly Just visit one of those links and paste your long link to shorten it for Twitter. 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 Tuesday evening and in our 2ndaryELA Facebook group!

Get caught up on past chats here:

Classroom Engagement Strategies


Need some new ways to keep middle and high school students involved in their learning?  See what the #2ndaryELA nation shared in their weekly twitter chat on this topic! #classroomengagement #strategies



We all know that engagement is the key to true learning.  So, as responsible teachers, we’ve tried many ways to engage our students…games, escape rooms, and more!  Some of us may even feel like we need new ideas to keep the learning "alive" in our classrooms.
That's where #2ndaryELA came in - we chatted about engagement in the classroom with special guest host, Pernille Ripp.  Read on to find out what other teachers are doing to keep students involved in their learning!


Welcome! What and where do you teach? Include a link to your blog if you have one.
My name is Pernille, I teach 7th grade ELA in Oregon, Wi and my random thoughts baout education and life can be found on my blog at
Q1: How do you make a dynamic and engaging learning environment?
A1: Be prepared with multiple activities, be flexible, mix up lessons, whole class, group work, and ind. time, flexible seating and students get choices.

A1: I think that giving students as many ways to control their education. The difficult part is keeping the balance between state standards and student owned education.
Replying to 
Try to keep things relevant. Kids always want to know why they have to know if. Also be willing to do weird stuff
I try to offer as much choice as possible. Collaboration opportunities and structured to talk while ss read and write.

And always being responsive to kids - what are the ways they can tell you when things are workin gor not working?
A1: I am always looking for new ways to do ordinary things. I love to incorporate music and movement as much as possible.
Q2: How do students invest and take ownership of their learning journey?
A2: Ss set goals and reflect on them, keep track of their data, have choices with book selection, writing topics, and with technology components.

A2: I’ve recently started creating learning target ladders where a target is written in tiers. Ss can see that mastery is a process and know what they’re working towards. We do a lot of reflecting.

Replying to 
A2: the power of choice! Small Choices lead to bigger choices. It eventually leads to self paced learning.
I find my students with IEPs and the advanced students are the most scared about choices. The average students just roll with whatever you give them
Students reflect, self-assess, give feedback on curriculum, and also help me plan what we want to do
In fact, due to the amazing conversations we are having right now, I am totally changing our TED talk exploration
A2: Students invest & take ownership through various choices in project-based opportunities
Yes to this, having students get true ownership over what/how/why they are learning something can be scary but it was education should also focus on

And I wonder; how many learning explorations are missed because we don't tap into the best professional development that we have - the students we serve?
Q3: Describe a time when you allowed students to take ownership in the classroom.
Replying to 
My 10honors wanted to read something we only had 2 weeks to do. I showed them the standards we had to cover and the calendar. Told them to make a plan. I didn’t teach a thing. 1/2
A3: Daily during independent reading. Ss choose where to sit, how to read, PB, audio, Epic, online, on their own, with a partner, with an Instructional aide. (At the beg. of the year, they kept asking permission; now it’s automatic.)

A3: Here’s your learning target. Show me you’ve mastered it. Organized chaos, but Ss really rose to the occasion.

A3: To review the reading standards that would be on the state test, groups of Ss chose a standard to present in their own way.
A3: I teach private percussion lessons. During these I allow the students to pick their own music, because otherwise would they really feel the need to learn it? I feel this is relative across all literature.
Q4: What do you use for classroom management other than rewards and punishments?
A4: I spotlight great work and great things that happen naturally - a kind of random acts of kindness meets pay it forward.
Replying to 
I like to recognize my Ss too. Our school has a brag board. I write brag slips every month.
A4: community and conversation.

Replying to 
Adding classroom jobs has done so much to increase our sense of community and accountability, and in turn, reduce disruptions.
And part of building that community is realizing when I am the problem and not the kids, so we talk a lot, and I ask "Are you okay?" a lot
Relationships. I genuinely like my Ss and they know that. I try to talk to them about non-school things regularly.

A4: Lots of teacher and student talks, try to find out why the behavior is happening, and parent contacts.
How many situations could be made better if we just sat down next to a kid and asked them if they are okay rather than assuming we need to fix or control something
Replying to 
Simply having the students make the rules on the first day and asking them what breaking the rules should mean.
I keep coming back to that school is bigger than what I teach, that it is not just about learning English, that it is about growing to be equipped to be a part of the broader world
A4: Feedback? I’m pretty good at giving feedback, but I won’t give feedback unless it’s their best work, so my students work to get it ready.

And keeping the humanity of someone at the center of everything we do, I don't need kids to fear me
Q5: Share your best engagement techniques and resources.
A5: Flipgrid, make writing for real purposes (authors, military, other teachers), make connections and celebrate reading throughout the year. (GRA,WRAD, RAAD)
A5: We put large posters on the wall with everyone's picture on it for the first week. Every once in a while we will all go write nice things on somebody's poster.
A5: I also have a love/hate relationship with Kagan strategies.
My best engagement technique will forver be to ask the students how I can be a better teacher for them and then actually do something with the advice they give
A5: peardeck is great for adding engagement pieces to a “boring” lesson, like slides. Direction instruction becomes collaborative with immediate feedback

is one of my favorite activities for student engagement.
Another way is to give genuine praise, I sat down and wrote 26 "I have noticed..." postcards to a class, it matters so much to share that you see how hard they work
An incredible book to read is Troublemakers - just the introduction will change and cement your view of kids forever
Thank you so much for having me chat - I will now resume my Twitter hiatus but can be found on Instagram recommending books, on my blog sharing , and in my classroom learning from the kids.

Remember, we keep the conversation going all week long at our Facebook group and we'd love for your to join the over 20,000 other secondary ELA educators!

Thanks for stopping by!