Espresso Shot: 9 of The Best Resources for Back to School

The lovely ladies of the Secondary English Coffee Shop have put together a list of their favorite resources to start off the year in your ELA classroom.  We hope these resources help you ease back into the school year after a restful and relaxing summer! Happy Back to School!

The first month of school is hectic as it is, so why not make your life a bit easier while you settle into your new classes? I use writing prompts to begin my first month of class. Not only do they give me an idea as to where my students' writing skills are, but they also give me a few minutes to settle into my new classes. That extra 10-15 minutes also settles the class before the lesson of the day begins!

Teachers have a lot of skills to review and procedures to explain during the first month of school. I like to find novel ways to do this that not only save my voice, but also help the kids really learn. These stations are designed to teach students the information they need to respond to text and to understand author technique. They make the kids more responsible for learning how to annotate, respond and analyze and get them ready for the work you'll do with them throughout the semester. - Room 213

One of the tough parts about the first month is easing back into the workload and staying as organized as you were on the first day. These grading helper sheets are my sanity-saver when student papers first start coming in. I've noticed that my turnaround time is faster and I actually remember to do and say more with students when I use these Grading Helpers. - Secondary Sara

In the first few weeks of school, I need to get to know my students. And yes, I mean that I need to get to know their names, work patterns, likes and dislikes; however, I also need to get to know them academically: how much they comprehend when they read a piece of text; where their weaknesses are grammatically; how fluently they can communicate their thoughts and idea. When I have a firm grasp on these things, I can better differentiate my instruction and meet their needs. Therefore, I always start with a reading/writing lesson which helps me quickly get to know my students academically, such as this Reading and Writing lesson, specifically designed for back-to-school. - Stacey Lloyd

Okay, so I am one of those teachers who doesn't rock at classroom decor. Instead, I make sure early on to let students do it for me. We review literary terms and devices in the first couple weeks, and each student makes a poster about a term. I use these to decorate our classroom for the first quarter, and swap them out later for drama terms or figurative language posters. Students love seeing their work on the walls, and their solid examples make the vocabulary easier to remember for everyone. - Nouvelle ELA

One lesson I always integrate into the first few weeks of school is teaching students how to effectively take notes. I prefer to teach students the Cornell Notes method since it uses a systematic procedure that allows students to organize ideas into categories and reflect and summarize on the information they learn. Not every student will choose to use the system regularly, but I make all my students try it for at least a couple of days to see if it could be a good method for them. Students can use their own loose-leaf, but I also keep Cornell notes templates in my classroom for those who prefer to use them - Presto Plans

One of the first things I do start off a new school year is to try to help students stay organized.  It can be easy to lose track of the vocabulary we learn during the year in my English class so I give all of my students a blank student dictionary.  As we move through different units and all of the new (and old) terms they learn during the year I have them add to their dictionaries.  By the end of the year my students have a great study guide and I know that many of them keep the dictionaries to use in their next English class.  - Addie Williams

There are so many essential skills I want to teach my new students in the first couple weeks of school, but there definitely isn’t enough time to get to it all. One of my favorite lessons to teach students is how to paraphrase, summarize, and quote text. I love this lesson for many reasons: it teaches students about three key writing elements for class; it helps make the transition into essay writing much easier; and it prepares students for future sub days. Once my students know how to paraphrase, summarize, and quote text, I can leave the graphic organizer and whatever text fits our current unit with the sub, and I know that they have a quality day planned. - The Daring English Teacher

At the beginning of the school year, I always feel overwhelmed about all of the data I'm required to record about my students as well as learning about my students' strengths and weaknesses in the ELA classroom!  To solve this issue, I designed a binder for student-teacher conferences.  Within the binder, there are three sections: beginning of the year check point, middle of the year check point, and end of the year check point.  During each check point, the teacher and the student sit down for a brief conference to discuss the students' strengths and weaknesses, and set goals for the next meeting!  Not only does it help you document essential information about your students' learning abilities, but it also builds positive rapport with them.  My students LOVED having one on one time with me and discussing all of the opportunities available for them.  -The SuperHERO Teacher

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