Our Most Engaging Lessons

If you're looking for some fresh new ideas to reinvigorate your classroom with engaging, rigorous lessons, we have you covered. Here are some of our most effective, innovative ELA ideas for the middle/high school classroom.  

Analyzing Music Videos - Stacey Lloyd
If a picture is worth a thousand words, surely a music video must be worth a few million! Some of my most engaging lessons have been when we analyze, write about, and discuss narratives in music videos. Indeed, a good music video can add a layer of meaning on top of a song through visual literacy. If we can get our students to analyze this, they are surely exercising a whole host of language, speaking, and comprehension skills… and thoroughly enjoying it in the process! Why not try and hook students into the analysis process through music videos. In my lessons, I have curated a set of truly engaging, poignant, and thought-provoking videos which come with all sorts of activities: making inferences, reflecting on theme, writing reviews, and so much more!

Introduction to Shakespeare Digital Breakout 
- Danielle at Nouvelle ELA

When you think of engagement, what do you imagine? What’s your role in this super engaged lesson? As a former theatre kid, I always imagined I’d be the star of the show… in reality, our students are most engaged when we are a facilitator and a bystander. I created my Introduction to Shakespeare Digital Breakout for just this purpose - I wanted students to be completely immersed in Shakespeare’s world without me having to lecture. Students love the gamification, and other teachers tell me that this is the best lesson they teach all year. Students come alive and thrive with collaboration and competition. And me? I just watch the magic happen.

Engaging Discussions: Collaboration Placemats
 - Room 213
When I think of the most engaging activities in my classroom, they aren’t always the ones that the kids would classify as “fun” - the ones where we’re playing grammar games or doing competitive writing challenges. No, the best ones are those that have students highly engaged in discussions about texts or issues, ones where I have to cut them off because the bell is about to ring. Usually, these are activities that involve lots of critical thinking and great discussion. My Collaboration Placemats are perfect for facilitating this - they start with individual reflection and then guide the students through the process of an effective discussion. They can be used with individual novels or full class texts and are sure to get your students focused and engaged.

Sticky Note Literary Analysis
 - The Daring English Teacher
When students are engaged, they are actively learning. They are learning by seeing, hearing, and doing, and that is why my sticky note literary analysis lesson is my most engaging lesson. With this lesson and activity, students incorporate the novelty of sticky notes into their literary analysis. They closely read the stories for textual evidence that supports literary analysis prompt. Once they have the evidence, they answer a question by illustrating or writing the answer on top of the note, writing the quote underneath the note, and then explaining the significance. It’s a kinesthetic learning strategy that really helps students understand the concept of literary analysis.

Looking at Social Media Habits
 - Addie Williams
One of the things I look forward to teaching the most is Media Literary because I can cover so many different learning objectives and it’s a topic my students get very passionate about! Whether it’s talking about social media addiction, the power of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) or gender stereotyping in advertising, all of my students have an opinion and they are more than willing to share it! One of the first activities I do when I start the unit, is one of my students’ favourites - it’s a look at their Social Media habits and why social media is so important to so many of them. Students survey their own habits and then compare them to those of their classmates using a fun and engaging set of activities that will sure to get your students talking!

Station-Based Activities
 - Secondary Sara
When my students were ready for more independence with annotating and interacting with texts, I started implementing more station-based activities. I was afraid they’d get off-task, but students were really engaged with the tasks at each table and were surprisingly willing to tackle annotation, finding theme, and learning new literary devices with less direct instruction from the teacher. I was then more free to intervene with the students who actually needed assistance instead of slowing down students who were capable of going faster. We did this with Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” as well as Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and both went extremely well! 
I’ve always loved creating bell-ringers and escape rooms to engage students with ELA content. This year, I merged the two to create a weekly bell-ringer grammar escape room challenge. On Monday, students are introduced to a back story where they find themselves in a situation where they need to escape (a dungeon, an alien planet, a military bunker, a scientist's study etc.) Each day that week, students come into class and work for the first 5-10 minutes to progressively get closer and closer to escaping by Friday. Each of the stories has students move through a variety of floors, rooms, chambers, and cells each day all while demonstrating their knowledge of grammar rules. Each of the daily puzzles bring students into a new area where they uncover more clues and attempt to succeed in each task to have a successful escape.

Reading Escape Room 
- The Classroom Sparrow
If you’re looking to promote reading in your classroom or if you are having a hard time finding the right book for your students, one of my favorite (any time of year) activities is my Reading Escape Room. Your students will work together to discover new authors, well-known characters, different genres, books that eventually became movies, and popular quotes found in various YA book choices. Once the challenges have been completed, students will be rewarded with a variety of books suggestions for their own personal reading repertoire and you will have a better idea of not only what books they have read in the past, but also what they might be interested in reading this school year.
Interactive Bulletin Boards: "Is it...? Or ?" - Tracee Orman

Poetry is one of my favorite units to teach but I know many teachers and students alike hate it. I try to make the unit fun and engaging and show my students that, like music (which most love), poetry can be entertaining. One resource I use that never fails to engage is my “Is it...? Or ?” presentation and bulletin boards, asking students whether the quote is from a famous musician or a famous poet. We start with the presentation and handout, then I put up the bulletin board the next day to reinforce and remind students of the fun we had guessing. They even enjoy making their own! It’s a sneaky way to get them excited about poets and poetry and read a lot in a short amount of time.
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