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Student Organization with #2ndaryELA

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about student organization.
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, September 18, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about student organization.

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about student organization.

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:

Get Your Students' Attention!


When you've tried everything to keep a class engaged and running smoothly, but nothing seems to work, try Whole Brain Teaching! #strategies #activities #ideas


I am currently teaching a 9th grade English class in a high needs school as a temporary assignment due to the school's need, my experience and my certification.

To say I was surprised to be "voluntold" to teach this is a complete understatement.  Theoretically, I am filling in until a permanent teacher can be hired.

This school is tough in more ways than one.  It is in the highest crime area and every single last student receives free breakfast, lunch, and dinner from the school.  It started off o.k. but then the behaviors began.  Having an extensive background in special needs, I began to dig into my toolkit.

Community building?  Check!
Creating agreements (rules) together?  Check!
Routines?  Check!
Breaking things down?  Check!
System for Recognition?  Check!

So why was I still having behavior troubles?  It wasn't as if the students were being malicious (well, most of them), but they just couldn't seem to focus - AT.ALL.  It was loud and I was constantly asking for the students' attention.  I tried mixing up the lessons with videos and using things like Pear Deck and other online tools.  No dice.

Then I remembered something I had learned about a few years ago - Whole Brain Teaching (WBT).  And I thought, why not give it a shot?

So first I needed to start back with our agreements.  I soon discovered that hardly any of the students could even remember what we agreed we needed to be successful!  I was shocked!  

We had agreed that we would need to be prompt, prepared, responsible and respectful in order to be successful.  I think that maybe this had been too vague for these students.

So I decided to clarify with WBT's 5 rules:

1.  Follow directions quickly.
2.  Raise your hand for permission to speak.
3.  Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat.
4.  Make smart choices.
5.  Keep our dear learning community happy.



I have to say taking the time to get the agreements down, was actually time well spent.  Now all I have to do is say Rule #1 and they know what I'm saying.  And that's all I have to say when someone is not complying.

Some kids think this is only for younger grades.  I asked them "Did it work back then to help you learn?"  The answer was yes.  So then I responded, "Well if it worked back then when you were younger and more inexperienced, think of how much better it can work now that you are older and wiser!"  I totally got the eye roll, but I don't care because I am already seeing improvements.

Using the "Teach, Ok" facet of WBT is really helping students pay attention and remember key details.  I'll admit I don't have 100% buy-in yet but when I ask one of these resistant students a question, they are able to repeat information - with a little help from their friends.  That shows them that this silly little thing works.  

So I am in for the long haul.  As long as I am teaching at this school, we will be WBT for sure!

Want more great ideas, free resources and more?  Join the Teacher Troop!



Thanks for stopping by!

Teaching Novels with #2ndaryELA

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about teaching novels.
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, September 11, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about teaching novels.

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about teaching novels.

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:

Students in a Digital World



Help your middle and high school students become more digitally literate with these thoughts and ideas.  #teaching #classroom #technology


Has your school gone 1:1 with technology yet?  Or maybe are you looking for ways to get your students ready for this day?  Then this post might be for you!  

Having just received devices, my students and I have to get the basics down of how to use various tools before we can even attempt to begin thinking about being fully digitally literate, but I am thankful for the #2ndaryELA community for their help in setting new goals for my students as there are so many things to consider when living in a digital world!

Below, you'll find a recap of our chat on Digital Literacy and I hope it gets you thinking about how to help your students become more digitally literate.

You can join in on the conversation too!  We'd love to see you Tuesday night at 8pm EST! Want to get a reminder an hour before the chat?  Sign up here:
https://www.remind.com/join/gk78ce

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, links, photos, etc. that will enhance our instruction.


Let's get started! Don't forget to respond in the A1, A2, A3 format and use the hashtag! Q1: What does digital literacy mean to you, and why is it important?
A1: For me, means growing student competence and compassion in online environments--"hearing" others and making themselves "heard" and recognizing when and how communication falls apart in a digital environment.
A1: the ability to find, understand, use info online but also be competent and thoughtful when using digital tools and media. Everything necessary to function in today’s online and digitally based world
Digital literacy means using technology to read, write, and create.
Q2: What skills do students need to have in order to be digitally literate?
A2: There are many skills that are needed to be digitally literate but I think the most important is being able to identify credible sources of information.
A2: The four C's: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity
Q3: What are the benefits and pitfalls of digital communication for our students?
A3: Benefits- the students ar accustomed to retrieving information digitally so using technology just enhances their learning. Pitfalls- today our internet was down.
A3: benefits of having an audience outside of their environment, information readily available to help them communicate
A3: Benefits of Digital Communication: Anyone can be a published author! Pitfalls of Digital Communication: Anyone can be a published author!
A3: misunderstanding the purpose and permanence of online communication. Also the vagueness and many times impersonal feel of it. Not being able to code switch between texting and professional language
Q4: What role should digital literacy play in our classrooms and curriculum?
A4: It's our job to prepare students for their future. We cannot predict what that future will look like, but we can bet that digital literacy will play a role. I want students to be able to engage in a digital environment and feel up to the task.
A4: Digital literacy must be directly instructed just like any other form of literacy. Sts need safe places to practice and play.
A4: The students should be able to apply new knowledge into different formats. Students should understand why digital citizenship is important.
Q5: What digital literacy resources or strategies can you share that will help your Twitter colleagues?
A5: If you don’t already use Feedly, you should try it out. It curates websites - I use it to curate all the education blogs I follow! It’s free to use, although they offer paid upgrades. I use the free version.
A5: I encourage you to embrace tweets and other social media posts as genuine mentor texts. I save tweets that I love and use them as exemplars for flash fiction, poetry, persuasive writing, etc., depending on the tweet.
A5: Use the resources your district has already! We have found great support from our library media specialist ! Having an expert help makes it less overwhelming.
A5: Since we are just 1:1 this year, we are still working at the most basic level. We are just getting our feet wet with Pear Deck and other such things.