Designing a Survey Course with #2ndaryELA

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about designing a survey course.
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, February 26, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about designing a survey course.

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about designing a survey course.

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:

Standardized Test Prep Tips

Test Prep motivation, strategies and more to help middle and high school students get ready for their standardized tests! #teaching #ideas

It's that time of year again - the time when all good teachers begin to think about what still needs to be done in order to help their students be as prepared as possible for the big state tests.

The #2ndaryELA nation came together on Twitter to discuss this topic and folks shared their best tips for motivation, preparation and more!  Scroll down for all things test prep!

Q1: How do you help your students prepare for standardized tests?
A1: I have not had to "prepare" students for years. I'm fortunate, I know. When I did, I would ask them to set goals. This helped them focus and not get overwhelmed.
Replying to 
A1: I’m not a fan of standardized tests HOWEVER they do keep me accountable. To prepare, we do a 2 week blitz to go over strategies and examples - but throughout the year, we do an article of the week every week with an example MC ? and a constructed response ?
A1: I teach academic vocabulary words like claim, relevant evidence, justify, etc. This helps students understand what each question is asking them.
A1: We use sites like that mimic what they see on standardized tests. Familiar features help them to be more confident.
A1: First, I try to use best practices in my teaching, and I set high expectations for my students. We read and write daily in my classes. I also give students routine test prep but avoid “teaching to the test.”
A1: All year long we're preparing... baby steps. Last year, we started inviting tier 2 students to an after school remediation club (fun learning) to hopefully push them over the edge into passing. It worked really well!
A1: the only real standardized prep I do is addressing the format of it. We have some built in (writescore tests) the meet this criteria, but American Lit has narratives that Ss are not familiar with usually. I tell them it has real-world benefits in noticing details
Q2: Share your best test prep resources, activities and ideas.
Replying to 
A2: Resources and activities are too big to attach, but contact me via insta for pics! As for ideas, repetition, repetition, repetition!
A2: I often use resources from College Board for SAT Prep and the AP Lit exam.
Replying to 
We played hand-on games (like matching definitions with words), Quizlet live, read fun figurative language rich texts
Q3: Do you continue with normal lessons during standardized testing? Why/Why not?
A3: We cannot, as our site uses block scheduling for testing.
A3: I do not because I tell my Ss that this is the "final workout" before the "big game" so we stay focused. I do refer back to previous lessons though!
Replying to 
A3: Absolutely! We do the prep, then it’s game time, but that doesn’t mean learning stops! During testing is a great time for Independent novels.
Q4: What do you to keep students on task during testing sessions?
A4: My Ss have been doing guided meditation daily (5 min. sessions) and I'm going to lead each testing day with that, and other mindfulness activities during breaks.
Replying to 
I love the idea of arts and crafts. I could make that happen for those testing days.
A4: We expect students to plan their essays on scrap paper and collect the planning for a grade.
A4: all of this! Plus, sticky note tic-tac-toe for students done with their tests

Q5: Describe any special activities that you reserve for standardized testing time.
A5: I reserve most of my competitions for test prep and most of my arts and crafts for during testing days.
Replying to 
What kinds of competitions do you have?
I do things where groups compete against each other as we review the standards. I've been known to make leader boards, race tracks and the like to get Ss into it!

Replying to 
These ideas are great. My students love friendly competition and we often play Trashketball to review for tests
A5: On the days that students are taking their standardized tests, certain movies or videos are reserved for after testing sessions. ELA teacher may save the video/movie version of the books they’re studying for this period of time.
A5: At the end of standardized testing (which lasts two weeks in Am Lit and 3 hours in AP Lit) we usually have a food celebration! Breakfast for morning classes and pizza for afternoon classes.
A5: Gum, food and drinks are not normally allowed, so this is the special treat!

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. 

 PLUS - 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!