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Celebrate the Season and Learn at the Same Time!

Lesson Plan ideas for teaching the play version of  A Christmas Carol in your middle school classroom!  #printables #activities #ideas



I absolutely love the holiday season!  And my students seem to get excited at this time of the year too.  So to keep them focused and learning, I have to find a way to weave in some celebration too!

This is what I do:  I read the play version of "A Christmas Carol".  It was in our old textbooks, but now that textbooks have been replaced by the laptop, I print out a copy from this online source.

Before Reading A Christmas Carol

Before we read, we play a little "Fact or Fiction".  I put 22 "facts" or "fictions" about the time period in which the play was written into manila folders.  Then I play a game with my class like "Deal or No Deal", where the contestant has to choose a numbered folder and determine of what it inside is fact or fiction.  If the contestant is right, he/she gets to hold he folder.  If the contestant is wrong, then he/she sits down and the folder holder is the new contestant.  The person with the most folders is the winner!  But really everyone wins because now they know what the times were like when this play was written.








During Reading of A Christmas Carol

Next, we read the play scene by scene.  After we read each scene we have a discussion, complete some Cornell notes and a plot diagram.

Then we watch the scene we just read from The Muppets Christmas Carol and compare/contrast it to the play.  

When we finish reading, we might take an assessment, write a compare/contrast essay or even complete an escape room.  It all depends what standards I think my students need more time working on.




After reading A Christmas Carol

There have been years where my students took a multiple chice assessment on the play because they needed more practice with analysis standards.  Other years, students have written a compare/contrast essay because we needed more writing practice. 

However, the last time I read this with my students, I created an escape game for the final "assessment" for my students.  (I actually used it as my formal observation!)  It had 3 puzzles all based on how Dickens used and altered history in "A Christmas Carol".  The students worked together in collaborative groups to solve the puzzles and it literally took full involvement from every member of the group to get the puzzles solved.  As a result, I received at least 2 "innovating" ratings on my observation!  

This particular escape game can be played using paper and enetering codes into one digital device like a smartphone or tablet.  Or it can be completely done online!  

When I first created this, it was all on paper.  But since it was so popular with the students, I revised it to match our 1:1 digital enviornment at school.




If you are reading the play version of "A Christmas Carol" with your students this year, I hope some of these ideas are useful to you so you can celebrate the season and still keep the learning going at the same time!

Thanks for stopping by!  

P.S.  Get 40% off the above resources in my store or 25% off on Teachers Pay Teachers on Monday, December 2, 2019 with code:  CYBER19


Mentor Sentences in Middle School


Mentor Sentences are not just for Elementary students!  Find out how I use them with grade-level texts in my Middle School classroom! #grammar #notebook


Have you ever taken a look at Mentor Sentences and wondered if they would work in Middle School?

I remember finding out about them from a video on YouTube and trying them out with my special needs English class.  The idea was to read a picture book and then pull out a model sentence.  Each day students would do something specific with that sentence in terms of grammar or writing conventions.  One day might be to notice the adjectives for example.  At the end of the week, the challenge was to re-write the sentence with new adjectives.  The activities were short, "do-able" activities that left my students feeling successful.  

So then I thought, how could I take this concept up a notch to begin to expose my students to longer, grade-level texts?  

Soon, I was looking for nonfiction texts since most of our classwork was fiction.  I longed to find texts that celebrated the season but still kept us learning.  This way we could stay focused on those key concepts, yet still have some fun.  The trouble was, I was struggling to find the "right" texts.  So I wrote my own.

What I did was create longer nonfiction texts and pull out a different sentence for each week of the month.  Then each day, I would ask a different question about things we had been learning.  Questions like:
"What is the complete subject and complete predicate of the sentence?"
"What is being compared in this sentence?"
"What do you notice about the sentence's punctuation?"
"What is the tone of the sentence?"

They were perfect for bell work!

On Fridays, I put together a little quiz of all the items we had reviewed that week.  For some students, these weekly quizzes were the first time they had scored well on an assessment for quite some time.

The students actually began to not only learn about various grammar concepts and writing conventions, but they were learning about topics such as perseverance, the history of the Poinsettia and more!  It was fun to hear them talk about these topics with interest.

In this way, mentor sentences were much more than just good models, they were causing my students to learn more about the topic as well as various grammar and writing concepts.  

Want to try them with your own class?  I have one set for each month of the school year, but here's my student's favorite about Walt Disney and perseverance:






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Thanks for stopping by!


Nonfiction and Real World Connections with #2ndaryELA

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about nonfiction and real-world connections.
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, November 17, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about nonfiction and real-world connections.

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about nonfiction and real-world connections.

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:

Movement in the Classroom with #2ndaryELA

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about movement in the classroom.
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, November 10, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about movement in the classroom.

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about movement in the classroom.

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:

Close Reading for Thanksgiving!


Teach your middle school students close reading strategiesand more with this great short story from O. Henry!  #activities #graphicorganizers


I absolutely love it when I can combine something I HAVE to teach with something I WANT to teach.  For example, Thanksgiving is coming up and while I HAVE to teach irony and character development through close reading, I WANT to teach something that relates to Thanksgiving.  So what did I do?  I found this great short story:  "Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen" by O. Henry.

It's perfect for both of the things I HAVE to teach and we'll still get to focus on the season of Thanksgiving!

I broke the story down into five chunks and made interactive notebook foldables to go with each chunk for vocabulary, the story events and irony.

Vocabulary

The vocabulary in this story can be a bit challenging, so it was really necessary to over this before each day's reading so my students didn't miss important things.


I help my middle school students pre-read by going over challenging vocabulary before we close read this text.  #introducing #interactive


Words like Saleratus, Seneschals, and Accord will be recorded here before we read the chunk of text from which they come.


Story Events

We read one chunk of the story each day.  Then, after the first read, students summarize that chunk. After the second read, they answer a specific question.  So I made two separate foldables to accomplish these two goals.




Each day my middle school students read one chunk of the story.  For the first read of that chunk, they write a short summary of that chunk. For the second read, they answer an important question about that chunk.  #closereading #activities #lesson



Plus, I also added in some activities where I wanted students to analyze the two gentlemen's character development by focusing on what the text said about them.  Then I asked the students to draw each man based on that text evidence.


Irony

Next, we all know O. Henry is famous for irony.  This story is no exception.   I don't want to ruin it for you if you haven't read it, so I'll just say that the irony really drives home the theme. :)


It's fun to teach irony to middle school students with a great short story by O. Henry and something interactive!  #closereading #activities #lesson


I even made a ZAP game to play to identify the kinds of irony in the story!


Wrapping it up with a Paragraph

The last thing we'll do after working with this story, is to write a paragraph related to the theme.  I've made a nice planning sheet to help the students put of of their thoughts together from this unit.


To finish up our unit on this great Thanksgiving short story, my middle school students plan and write a paragraph connected to the theme.  #activities #lesson


Students really enjoyed this story and we had some great discussions about what Thanksgiving is really all about.  It took us about two weeks to complete, but when we were done, we had learned about vocabulary, close reading, plot sequence, irony, evidence, and paragraph writing!  It was a great way to learn and feel connected to the season all at the same time.


Want to try this in your own classroom?  It's ready to go right here!





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Professional Development with #2ndaryELA

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about professional development.
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, November 3, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about professional development.

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Sunday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about professional development.

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:

Using Podcasts in the Classroom


Have you tried listening to podcasts in your middle school classroom? See what the #2ndaryELA community shared on this topic! #ideas #tips


Podcasting is not new, but the idea of bringing podcasts into the classroom in one form or another has been gaining in popularity. It's no wonder with the focus in education being on student choice and project based learning.  Choosing what to listen to in the classroom can really bring a classroom alive.

So how do you get started with listening and what do you do once you have finished listening?  The #2ndaryELA community has you covered with their recent discussion:


What is your favorite podcast to use in the classroom and what is its ELA merit?
A1: I have heard of the 6 minute podcast recently, but have not tried it.
I love using Serial for literacy nonfiction and bias. I think Hidden Brain is brilliant for humanity theme pairings. Good Night Rebel Girls is perfect for bio mentor texts!
I would love to get started with students making podcasts and not sure how to get started - easiest way to record etc.
I like This week I am going to use a snippet of a spooky story from This American Life! Here’s the read aloud link and transcript...
I started exploring podcasts via searching things I was personally interested in on the Podcast App on my phone. Then those same podcasts would have ads that led me@to even more!
How have podcasts improved your curriculum?
Podcasts have improved my curriculum by adding diverse, high-interest, and authentic voices (for FREE)!!
Q2: Podcasts are a fun way to incorporate background information or historical context in a new format 🌎
I use podcasts as a springboard for journal writing, building background on current events for classroom debate, as part of a text set on an overall theme and to reinforce reading standards (citing evidence, summary)
Replying to 
Even though I haven't really tried them out, I know my students will definitely be engaged by them. They love the idea of them!
Where do you find inspiration for podcasts in the classroom?
I find inspiration by listening to lots of different genres of podcasts that I’m interested in! I never listen to find a lesson plan; I let the lessons come to me. If you don’t know where to start, this will help:
Q3: I listen to a LOT of so that’s where I get most of my podcast inspo! 😂
Replying to 
I look for things that need new perspectives and ways for students to have an audience.
How do you keep students engaged while listening?
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Students engagement goes up if they know they’ll be able to respond to what they listen to via writing or speaking. Sometimes I have them take notes on certain things I want them to attend to as we listen.
Give choices. Students decide how they can best actively listen. They can take notes, color, walk around, or anything else that doesn’t involve a phone or distraction! 🤣 Also, pause periodically for discussion!
I usually do whole class listening, but here’s a lovely idea of walking while listening! They used their own devices I believe!

Which free-choice podcasts are your students listening to?
This is a next step for me. I honestly haven’t done much to build my students’ personal podcast canon enough that they’ve even developed these free-choice preferences. I imagine giving a “cast chat” similar to a booktalk to build their awareness of what’s out there.
Replying to 
We have not even discussed this yet - new idea for tomorrow! :)
I hope you found some new ideas for using podcasts in your classroom!  Maybe this will even inspire your students to make their own!

Thanks for stopping by!