Struggling Readers & Writers with #2ndaryELA

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about struggling readers and writers.
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, October 2, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about struggling readers and writers.

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about struggling readers and writers.

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:

No More After School Detention!

Keep the onus for appropriate behavior on the student with take home detention!  #middleschool #highschool #assignments #ideas #activities

When I say "detention", what do you think of?

Students sitting in a room staring at the walls waiting for their time to go?  Students doing some chores like washing down the desks?

And when does this take place?  Before or after school, right?
That's YOUR time, Teacher.  In fact, I daresay that detention doesn't just give students a consequence, it also gives the TEACHER a consequence.  

Wait a minute!  That shouldn't be!

I think that the purpose of detention should be to re-teach students what appropriate behavior should look and sound like.

So why not send that reteaching home in the form of a composition for the students to copy and then have them get a parent signature so that the parent is aware of the inappropriate behavior?

In this way, the student has to spend their time thinking about their actions and what they will (hopefully) do next time.  

Now your time is free and the onus is where it belongs - on the student!

Teachers: Stop punishing yourself with Detention!  Try these Take-Home Detentions instead!  #assignments #ideas

Save some time and check out the compositions I have already written that you can edit to suit your needs:

I have pre-written essays for:  
★ Tardiness
★ Cheating on a test
★ Cheating by copying someone else's work
★ Not following directions
★ Disrespect
★ Improper behavior with a substitute
★ Skipping class
★ Disrupting the class
★ Inappropriate language (cursing)

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Student Organization

Helping students get organized is no easy task!  Get some great ideas from fellow middle and high school teachers who participated in the #2ndaryELA Twitter chat!  #teaching #languagearts #organization

Student organization is an important topic. Too often students just cram things into the abyss of their bookbags (or make a zillion copies on their Google Drive) only to realize later they NEED THAT ONE document.  So how can teachers help?  

This #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about helping students to be organized at the middle and high school level.  Teachers shared their thoughts and ideas on how to accomplish this task and you can read them below!
Hi! My name is Lauralee, and I will be hosting tonight's chat. I teach high school in Central Illinois and blog at . My first book just went on sale TODAY! Tonight, we are chatting about organization with students.
Q1: What do you find as your students' largest struggle with organization?
A1: Putting things back where they go... Some pockets in their Notes Notebook are empty.

A1: sometimes they have 30 files in their drive titled “essay.”
A1 - finding a system that works for them. Building habits. Attention to detail!
Q2: What, if any, organizational systems or programs do you implement in your classroom or schoolwide?
A2 I think we need to TEACH organization - not just implement. Many people aren't naturally born organizers...our Ss have binders using the AVID way, I use digital folders/Gclassroom and spiral notebooks.
Replying to 
Totally agree. Organization is something that takes time, effort, practice, and modeling from teachers!
Replying to 
YES! Many teachers think that kids know how to do it...and it just makes it worse. I'm struggling now with my teaching team to support kids writing in their planners, not just telling them to do it and figuring they've done their job.
Oh yes - I actually stamped the planners of my 6th graders to verify that the work had been written in!

Replying to 
Yes, and giving them TIME to organize their digital files, too!
A2. There should be a whole lesson about labeling files and creating folders. Google drive is a dream.
A2: I personally love Google Drive. I have folders and folders within folders within folders. And all kinds of notebooks. For my students: each class has a color, and everything for that class (turn in tray, bins for workbooks, missing work folders) is that color.
A2: I once had a binder system, and this worked! I need to decide if I want students to have certain digital folders, bc I want the system to make sense to them.
Q3: How do you get students to "buy-in" to organizational procedures?
A3: Modeling and talking helps students see the benefits. Lots of modeling and emphasizing what works for individuals.
A3: Definitely modeling - yes - Also I've recently considered giving bonus points to those who can show me the week's work in their folders...
A3: I go over organization practices in class and go over it again when I notice an issue. Students “buy-in” when they see others pull out the assignment immediately while they are still looking for their assignment.
A3: I share my own difficulties with organization and how I overcame them. I let students know the "why" and heavily model organizational habits as well as acknowledge students who write down important dates or correctly file papers/documents.
Q4: How do you hold students accountable for organization? Is it part of a grade or a portfolio?
A4: At this point, I don't take grades for organization. I once did for the binder system, but I have mixed feelings about doing that.
A4: in my previous school we did an end of year portfolio. Well organized kids did a much better job evaluating their work because they could find everything.
A4: I don't think I'd ever give a grade for organization, I'm more interested in what students can produce. Students are kind of naturally held accountable if they end up not turning in work, doing it late, or doing a half-hearted job because they forgot about it.
A4b: Also if a student is unorganized but can still do good work, doing a binder check seems like giving a grade simply for compliance rather than their actual achievement.
Q5: How do you help students keep digital files organized?
A5 I teach them how to create a folder for the year...sub folders for to color code and use numbers to organize their digital system. WE also use google sites!
A5: Thankfully we have a tech instructor and they help the students with this.

A5: It's all in the naming. I show them how to name their files. Once you've given a file a descriptive name, it doesn't really matter if you just shove it anywhere, Folders can be helpful, but the majority of the time Ss can just search and find it with good naming.

Remember, we keep the conversation going over at the #2ndaryELA Facebook group and we'd love for you to join over 18,000 educators in our "think tank"!
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