3 Ways to Make Middle School ELA Content More Exciting


Middle School students can be a tough crowd.  Here are My Top 3 Ways to Make ELA Content More Exciting!

You're probably here because you've heard the dreaded statement "This is so boring!" with the obligatory eye-roll.

If you're like me, you LOVE reading and writing and cannot understand how ANYONE would think this is boring.

But, let's face it, some kids just aren't natural-born Language Arts people.  So what do we do?  

3 Ways to Make Middle School ELA Content More Exciting

1.  Infuse Friendly Competition

There are two easy ways to do this:

- Create an individual competition by telling each person that they can earn points for answering questions in class, for earning an 80% or better on assessments, and for doing good things as a human.  They can then trade in their points for tardy passes, homework passes and the like.


-Create a team competition.  Now teams earn points for all the same things but would earn team privileges.  You can read more about how I set up teams by clicking here.

Why/ How does this make ELA Content more Exciting?
This is because now students have something for which they are working.  Kids love competition and that love will cause them to put more effort and energy into what they are learning.

2. Use Games

This probably seems like a no-brainer, but kids love games.  Even simple games.  You can use Tic-Tac-Toe for any concept and it requires little to no prep.

All you need to do is draw a tic-tac-toe board on the SmartBoard or Whiteboard and divide up your class into 2 teams.

An easy, NO PREP way to make middle school ELA content more exciting!

Now ask Team X any question about the topic you are learning about.  If they get it right, someone from Team X places an X on the board.

Now repeat with team O.  Three in a row wins!  What do they win?  Well, that can go back to number 1 above or perhaps they earn bonus points on the next assessment!

I've also used Game Shows, Deal or No Deal games, and many others!

Why/ How does this make ELA Content more Exciting?
Students love games!  Something about playing a game with content suddenly makes that content much more interesting.  After all, would you rather listen to the teacher ask questions and students raise their hands or would you rather play a game with the questions?  You'd probably like to play the game - especially if you're 11, 12, or 13 years old.

3.  It's all in the Build-Up

Have you ever seen a really bad movie trailer?  One where you think the movie will not be worth your time or money?  Then it comes out on your favorite streaming service and you decide to see how bad it really is but then it's actually pretty darn good?

That was me with the movie Wall-E.  The trailer wasn't very good at all and I had no interest in seeing the movie. But when my sons wanted to see the movie, I sat with them for a bit and was completely sucked in.  The movie was SO much better than the trailer.

So why am I telling you this?  The same is true with our ELA concepts.  If we provide a trailer that says "This is arduous work that we must simply trudge through" then kids are going to balk.  On the other hand, if we get creative, we may pique their interest enough to make the topic much more exciting!

For example, my class was going to be learning about essay writing skills.  Instead of stating that to my students, I did this:

Me:  "Hey - does anyone know who is going to be in the Super Bowl?"

Student:  "Yeah!  It's going to be ____ and _____."

Me:  "So when the two teams that are going to be in the Super Bowl are getting ready, do they say 'Man!  This stinks!  I don't want to play in the stupid 'ol Super Bowl!' ?"  (I walk around and kick at the floor with an exaggerated tone.)

Students:  "No!" with sincerely incredulous looks on their faces. (They probably thought I'd lost my mind.)

Me:  Right!  Of course not!  Instead, they run around screaming "We're gonna win because we're the best and we're awesome and the other team doesn't stand a chance and when we win, we're gonna go to Disney World!"  (And I literally screamed this like I was a football player.  So then they were sure I'd lost my mind!)

But then I said "Our big state test is like our Super Bowl - a Super Bowl for writing.  You should be excited to go in there and show what you know - to show that you are the best and that you are a winner!"

Get middle school students hyped for "boring" ELA content!

And then I began to relate the things we were going to do for essay writing to workouts - sentence writing sit-ups, paragraph push-ups, and so on.

They were interested enough in the idea of being champs and how working out gets you to the Big Game that I was able to capitalize on the theme and even came up with our own championship that you can read more about by clicking here. 

Why/ How does this make ELA Content more Exciting?
Creating a story or drama is interesting and appeals to students' natural curiosity.  Never mind that much of their life revolves around drama.  Might as well get in on it!  :)

So here are my top 3 ways to make Middle School ELA Content More Exciting!  I hope they help you as much as they have helped me!

Thanks for stopping by!

Pin This Post for Later:

Don’t spend hours searching for that great idea you found.  Just pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can quickly and easily come back when you are ready.  You’ll be glad you did!

That side eye from your Middle School students can be diminished by using 1 or more of these tactics!