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Curriculum and Unit Planning with #2ndaryELA

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about curriculum and unit planning.
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, September 22, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about curriculum and unit planning.

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about curriculum and unit planning.

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:

Student Choice in the Classroom



Get some great strategies for implementing student choice into your middle or high school ELA classroom!  #activities #menu


We all want students who are engaged and motivated to learn as much as they can.  One of the best ways to do this is to incorporate students choice into the classroom.  But what are some of the best strategies to do this?  The #2ndaryELA community hashed it out recently so read on to get some new ideas on student choice in the classroom:

Q1: How do you define “Student Choice”?
A1: I think of it in terms of Ss having menus so they can choose how to demonstrate learning.
A1: I am going to be testing out some choice bingo boards in RTI block this year. Combo of easy work (ixl, vocab, free read), worksheets, and writing practice.
A1 Student choice in my classroom is the self-selected novels for independent reading and choosing topics for quickwrites during writer's workshop
A1 Student choice to me is any time students get to make a decision about their learning
A1 I define student choice as giving the Ss a list of learning opportunities and the S selecting one or two of those ops.
Q2: Share examples of student choice in your classroom.
A2: Students also have choices when they are annotating / close reading a text, selecting / participating in independent reading, and when they are practicing literary analysis.
A2) Giving a gross or individual presentation, creating a display, doing a report about a topic associated w/ the unit, among others.
A2: I use menus for practicing concepts as well as remediation and enrichment. The remediation menus are passed out at the same time as enrichment ones but they say "enhancement" on them so they look almost identical.
A2: Right when students arrive in class they have choice over what they are working on independently - reading choice reading or working on a course-related assignment, like
A2: I have given my students choice with Lit Circles and Research Projects.
Q3: How does student choice impact learning in your classroom?
A3: My students become more engaged in their learning when they have choice in what they are doing. True learning is happening.
A3: It gives students more ownership over their learning and since we focus heavily on progress, choice really reinforces that concept.
A3) The impact comes from the S working w/in their comfort zone in a demonstration of a higher learning activity.
A3: I feel that student choice helps students to not only own their learning, but to also start learning how to make decisions in a safe environment.
Replying to 
A3: Since they are able to choose their side quests, they are learning whichever skill they want in order to complete it. As far as the impact: students are wanting to learn new things!
A3: Students are interested and value their work more when they choose.
A3 Choice = motivation and student buy in.
Q3: Ss are more willing to work when they feel as if their voice is being acknowledged. They can feel intrinsically motivated when they have selected a task as opposed to being told to do something.
A3: Choice impacts learning when Ss can apply the ELA skills we teach to the topics they love. They may not be super excited to write a research paper but many will engage with those skills when it’s about a topic they choose.
A3: I feel like it gives students agency and purpose with their learning while utilizing prior knowledge and/or expanding upon current interests.
Q4: How do you manage student choice times?
A4: Daily reading time, Free Reading Friday, novel study projects-I manage these through student/teacher conferences.
A4: Expectations, monitoring, modeling, and trust all go into my management of student choice.
A4 With 6th grade choices start small
Replying to 
A4: Every Friday is an Explore Writing Day in our class! They are all working on something, so there’s noting to manage!
A4: Each day I have time scheduled for whole group instruction and for their choice learning. They also sit with those who made similar choices for books or researchers projects.
A4) I give the Ss the opportunities at the beginning and establish the due date early at that moment. Two days after the U test are in class workdaysand due the third day. I am available to answer Qs throughout the U.
A4: Regular agreements (rules) apply and there are set days and due dates for choice time.
Q5: Share your favorite student choice resources.
A5) Presentations, skits or re-enactments of a scene and the research paper.
A5: My PLN on Twitter is a good go to, along with my & networks, colleagues, and friends!
A5: For Lit Circles I had the students do a book tasting activity to help them pick the book they wanted to read. I usually give them a list of options.



A5: Students analyze themselves as readers, choose books for March Book Madness, and have flexible seating options.
So, as you can see, student choice is a really important part of helping students be engaged with their learning.  There are many ways to learn so there are many ways to offer students choices too!  I hope that you found a new idea or two that you can use in your own classroom.  

Do you have an idea that wasn't shared here?  Share it in the comments or in our Facebook Group where we keep the conversation going 24/7.  We'd love for you to join!

Hope to see you at the next chat!  Thanks for stopping by!