Teaching Poetry & Empowering Students with #2ndaryELA

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about teaching poetry & empowering students.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, January 29, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about teaching poetry and empowering students.

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

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 @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, 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:

Practical Ideas for Teaching Essay Writing


Do you teach essay writing in your #languagearts classroom?  Get new ideas to reach all learners!  #teaching #middleschool #highschool #tips


Essay writing is probably one of the most challenging things for ELA teachers to teach since it is such a big process with many moving parts.

So the #2ndaryELA nation came together and shared all of our best ideas for helping all students succeed with writing an essay:



Q1: What is your biggest struggle with teaching essay writing?
A1: The biggest struggle in teaching writing is teaching them how to properly embed quotes and provide adequate commentary.
A1: I feel like this differs every year. This year, organization.
Replying to 
Convincing students that one draft isn’t enough. I now include a section in the rubric for meangful changes but they still don’t
A1: Time is my greatest struggle. It's hard to give students adequate "think" time with 44-minute classes!
My biggest struggle with teaching essay writing is definitely helping students get to the point where they self-edit. So many of them just want to be DONE after handing in their essays!
A1: Having them not use "I" all the time - i.e. I am going to tell you about...
Q2: How do you teach students to plan and organize essays?
A2: Multiple types of graphic organizers, outlines, sentence starters, whatever works (and it's always changing)!
A2: I use a mnemonic system that I created myself to help students remember the structure. I even made the lessons into secret agent videos! :) https://mrsspanglerinthemiddle.blogspot.com/2019/01/writing-instruction-hacks-to-reach-all.html
Here's an example of my mnemonics for an introduction in middle school.
A2:outlines or graphic organizers.
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A2: depends on the type. Narratives: guided questions. Everything else: work from the inside out. Intro and conclusion are LAST.
A2: I've used the outlines created by for the past two years. She organized/ explained each sub-part so perfectly!
A2: I use TAG & ACE to help them format it correctly. Also, sentence starters, graphic organizers, and etc.
Q2- I break it down with one paragraph at a time. I create interactive resources for each paragraph to assist with this.
Q3: What types of readings do you use as a basis for text-based essays?
A3: For text-based essays, I make sure to use a variety of readings to help students broaden their scope of writing: short stories, novels, poetry, nonfiction, etc.
A3: short stories and novels, but lots of nonfiction too.
A3: We use non-fiction articles from
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Whatever the kids are interested in. I once had mine write a persuasive paragraph on whether the dress was white/gold vs black/blue
Q4: How do you give meaningful feedback to students on these longer pieces of writing?
A4: I try to give feedback as the essay is being written if at all possible. OR - I grade just one section at a time so I can give quality feedback on a section at a time.
A4: I use rubrics/ conference with each student when handing back the graded essay. I give a graphic organizer to complete: areas where they were successful and where they need improvement for next time... that way they keep it for the next round!
A4: I have a rubric I made up for each type of essay and I add comments. They can make revisions for more points. At the beginning I usually focus on 1 or 2 concepts then move up, until I can check a whole essay for all concepts.
I use goobric to have students complete a self assessment, too.
Replying to 
I don’t have many students, so I do 1:1 conferences on their almost final drafts. I show them their potential grade if it’s left as is. I also encourage 2-3 areas of meaningful revisions
A4: Sit down and do it... I try to grade five per day.
A4: I require essay to be typed in Google Docs so I can easily read them. I look for specific items to grade and include the rubric up front, so student know what is most important for the particular type of writing.
A4: I give feedback by using a rubric and writing comments at the end of each essay. I point out what the student did well, and give them an actionable step to improve writing. I also encourage full-credit revisions after the final.
Q5: Share your best essay teaching tips and tricks.
A5: One of the best things I did with my ELL Ss last yr was to "Build an Essay" using task cards: Ea. Card had 1 sent. from the essay. Ss had to choose the right one and record it on their sheet. In the end they had an essay & many lightbulb moments! You can read about it here:
Move up
Q5: I've learned that it is super important to let your students TAKE THEIR TIME! A rushed essay is rarely a polished essay - and some students will need some extra time to really nail it.
A5: Peer editing with specific task cards is my favorite tool. I give students who have difficulty with thesis statements the task of locating the thesis in other papers. It works well!
A5: Modeling - revisions (1 or 2 concepts at a time) - mnemonic devices seem to help a great deal!
A5: Do collaborative brainstorming with your class before outlining the essay. This makes sure all Ss have content to write about, which is important for EL Ss and Ss with IEPs. It makes the essay writing process less daunting for them.
Be sure to join the #2ndaryELA nation every Tuesday at 8pm on Twitter.  We talk about all kinds of important ELA topics with the goal of helping teachers connect and find new ways to teach and reach their students. 

We keep the conversation going 24/7 at our Facebook group and we'd love for you to join our community of 20,000 + teachers all focused on ELA!

Thanks for stopping by!