Blogging in the ELA Classroom with #2ndaryELA

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, August 28, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about blogging in the ELA classroom.

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

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 or 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:

ELA Curriculum and Unit Planning

Get new ideas for setting up long range ELA plans for your classroom from #2ndaryELA! #teaching #languagearts #curriculum

Planning your curriuclum and the units inside that curriculum is a big task and it's nice to get new ideas from other teachers who have been there, right?  So the #2ndaryELA community came together to discuss this topic recently and here is their best advice.

You can join in on the conversation too!  We'd love to see you Tuesday night at 8pm EST! 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.
Q1: Do you begin planning with the standards first? What does that look like?
A1: We plan using a standards map by semester to make sure we get them all (in theory!)
A1: I like to begin with a text that I know they will enjoy based on their interests then I find standards that go along with the text.
A1: Our district just went through the curriculum mapping process for ELA. We look at state assessment data & blueprints from ODE to determine which were the tested standards. Then we were able to map the standards by each quarter.
Replying to 
A1: No! I begin planning with asking students their dreams and goals for their lives. I plan around student passion and dreams. I then create lessons with the standards that fit around the individualized goals of the kids I teach.
A1: We are given a scope & sequence that dictates what standards are to be taught when. Now they've added daily lesson plans that some schools choose to use.
Q2: Do you plan on your own or with a team? How does that work?
A2: I love asking sts what they are passionate about. Most often, reading/writing aren't on the list, so I then try to make the connection between their passions and what they could read
A2 This year I'll be part of a team of 3 6th grade teachers. Not sure how much we'll plan together yet
A2 cont I also have some special events related to reading I'll do once a trimester: book tasting, blind date with a book, reading in the wild
A2: We plan the focus standards for each trimester/semester in teams, then some teachers choose to collaborate and plan the details while others don't.
A2: I plan with a team of 7th & 8th grade teachers from all the feeder schools at the beginning of the year and we continue to stay in touch via email and meetings throughout the year. We share ideas and help each other out when we need the extra support.
Q3: Are there specific requirements for your plans and/or lessons?
Q3: We have a lot of freedom, which is amazing! The only issue is with that freedom, we do not purchase ELA curriculum, so we work together to find the best resources/texts/strategies/etc. It's a lot of work, but it is usually better for the students.
A3: The requirements on my lesson plans are to include standards and what the students will be doing to learn this concept.
A3: We do not have a specific format but we are encouraged to identify the learning target for each lesson
Q4: How do you map out the year to ensure all standards are taught before the state test?
A4 I'm thinking about doing a literary skills boot camp before we start the year to get students familiar with those terms before we jump into a whole class novel. For writing, using mentor texts, graphic organizers and checklists helps.
A4 I make a spreadsheet with the standards in columns and our novel units in the rows. I x off when I've covered each standard during each unit.
A4: We use a year-long calendar, put on any non-teaching dates, then use a standards checklist. We match the checklist to our units, then start fixing any gaps.
A4: Since we curriculum mapped, the scope and sequence of the standards is set for the entire year building wide (6th, 7th, 8th).
A4: ELA teachers from all the schools meet at the beginning of the year, we map out every 6 weeks to be sure we have all the standards taught before testing. Even though we have a plan, it doesn't ensure every standard is taught to the degree it needs to be.
Q5: How do you assess as your progress through a unit?
A5: I use my standards checklist as a guide. I don't check off until a set % mastery is achieved. Easy at-a-glance way to determine what may need reteaching. I use many various types of assessments throughout each unit.
A5: We have several benchmarks we give throughout the year to check comprehension of the standard.
A5: I like to let students self-assess throughout the unit, especially in terms of their specific writing goals for that unit
A5: We assess with formative quizzes and things like Plickers and then summative assessments by standards.