9 Fun & Creative Halloween Activities for English Language Arts (Espresso Shot)

October is in full swing and we are sharing our favorite October/Halloween resources. It's hard to keep your students engaged, so here are a few ideas to keep the attention of your English Language Arts classes before all that sugar kicks in from the candy they will receive on October 31st!

If you know me, you know that I LOVE to incorporate the holidays into my teaching. I do my best to create practical resources for my students; if they happen to fall around a particular holiday, then I usually find a way to sneak in some elements of that particular season. I created this Halloween Career Project as a fun way for students to learn basic skills and requirements for a job or career. This is also a great way to bring the Halloween spirit into a class while completing the course requirements in a creative way. Students will randomly select a Halloween-related career, then complete a variety of tasks highlighting skills for that particular job. - The Classroom Sparrow

In today's stressful world, offering a calming activity like coloring can be very effective in class--especially for teenagers. Studies have shown that students who are given the opportunity to color and doodle during a lecture or while listening to audiobooks are more academically motivated. I love having holiday-themed coloring pages readily available for students for those moments in class when they need a stress reliever or brain break. Click HERE to check out my Halloween Coloring Pages. - Tracee Orman

Students are pretty excited on Halloween, and one way to reign them in is to focus on content. These Halloween Grammar Worksheets work great as a Halloween station activity. Or, if needed, they also work great as an emergency sub plan. - The Daring English Teacher

The one autumn activity that I look forward to EVERY year is the scary story my students write using these Spooky Story Learning Stations. Not only are these stations highly engaging, but they help the kids learn about literacy elements AND the importance of the revision process. The students love the activities, the end results are always spooktacular! - Room 213

My students love all things spooky and scary, so it is easy to motivate them to write these spooky Halloween mystery stories! Using a unique "Dial-A-Mystery" technique to generate ideas, all students should have something to write about and be creatively inspired. Click HERE to check out my Halloween Writing Activity. - Addie Williams

 It is always fun and engaging when we tie in seasonal holidays with meaningful learning opportunities. That's why I created these Halloween-themed figurative language activities. From writing horror movie tag lines, to analyzing figurative language in frightening fiction, students will have fun, while also deepening their knowledge of key figurative language techniques; think metaphors, similes, hyperbole, personification and more! - Stacey Lloyd

 I absolutely adore teaching spooky, creepy and scary short stories. The suspense, the twists and turns in the plot lines, and the sinister characters always seem to draw students in. This is why I use Halloween as an excuse to spend Octobers studying my favorite eerie and freaky short stories. Whether you are inside the mind of a demented protagonist in the Tell-Tal Heart, avoiding a dinosaur attack in A Sound of Thunder, or suffering the consequences of wishes gone wrong in The Monkey's Paw, these plot lines and characters are sure to hold your students' attention. I've bundled all of my favorites together which you can find in my Spooky Short Story Unit. - Presto Plans

In this Pre-Reading Inferences Challenge, students play a young detective investigating the mystery of the black cat. The events follow Poe's classic story, but without the first-person narrator, it becomes a mystery that students solve using clues and evidence that they find along the way. At each step, students share their inferences with me (The Police Chief) and I make sure they're on track before they proceed. Afterwards, we read the story and they confirm whether they were correct. This is a fun collaborative activity to practice inferencing! - Nouvelle ELA

I love "The Raven", but since it's such a complex poem, my students need help understanding its intricacies. We break it down with this stations activity so that students can rotate and annotate for one element at a time: symbolism, allusion and so on. It's been a hit in my classroom! - Secondary Sara

We hope you enjoyed reading about some of our BEST Halloween lessons to use this October! Happy Halloween from all of us at The Secondary English Coffee Shop!

Synthesis Writing in the English Classroom

One of the most fundamental skills students in middle school ELA and high school English classes need to learn is how to evaluate sources and synthesize information. This skill is so vital for students because it is a skill that students will continue to use long after they leave our classrooms.

Synthesis Writing in the English Classroom

I spend a lot of time focusing on synthesis skills in my classroom. Not only does this help prepare my students for state tests, but it also helps students build the skills needed to become informed decision-makers in society.

Here is a look at how I plan a synthesis writing unit in my classroom.

What is Synthesis?

So, what exactly is synthesis? If you haven't purposefully planned synthesis writing in your classroom, there's a chance you've done something similar without even realizing it. Essentially, synthesis is the act of drawing information from multiple sources. Whenever you assign students a writing assignment that requires the inclusion of numerous sources, that is synthesis.
Synthesis Writing in the English Classroom

This free student handout about synthesis will help your students understand the synthesis writing process.

To take synthesis to the next level, I focus on teaching students how to evaluate multiple sources for credibility and reliability, and how to compare multiple sources reporting on a similar topic.

Now that you've got an idea about what synthesis is, it is time to start planning your unit. A successful synthesis unit includes four components: a high-interest topic that will grab students' attention, multiple sources across a variety of mediums, a clear task and objective, and a strategy for modeling critical reading to students.

Choosing High-Interest Topics

One of the best ways middle school ELA and high school English teachers can garner student engagement is by planning activities, lessons, and thematic units involving high-interest topics. One way to go about this is to survey your students. You can ask them to brainstorm in partners or small groups a list of 3-5 issues that interest them. These issues can be world issues, national issues, or teen issues.
Synthesis Writing in the English Classroom

Another way to incorporate a synthesis unit or project into one of your preexisting units is to come up with a high-interest topic that is related to a novel you are reading. For example, if you are currently reading To Kill a Mockingbird with your students, perhaps you'll want to assign a synthesis project on social justice or racial inequality. Or, if you are teaching American Literature and currently studying colonial literature, you can assign a synthesis project on first-hand accounts from early settlers.

However, you don't need to tie-in your synthesis units to thematically fit with your current units of study. Sometimes, students like to take a break and focus on more modern (in their eyes) and pressing issues. For example, with more students interested in politics, students might enjoy a voting age synthesis unit. Additionally, with the rising cost of post-secondary education, students might also enjoy synthesizing information about the cost of state and community college tuition. In my store, I have a variety of synthesis writing units that will help your students build the essential skills of analysis, synthesis, and critical thinking.
Synthesis Writing in the English Classroom

Gather Multiple Sources

Once you've selected a topic for your synthesis unit, it is time to gather multiple sources. If you haven't taught research skills yet, it might be a good idea to throw in a quick mini-lesson, or you can also provide your students with a list of pre-selected sources.

One of the best things you can do for your students as you gather multiple sources is to include a variety of sources. Not only do you want to include sources that include differing perspectives, but you also want to include different types of sources.

You'll want to include sources that have opposing viewpoints so that students can practice their critical thinking skills. As they read, you'll want them to evaluate each source for its bias, credibility, and accuracy. You can take this one step further by having them compare sources about a similar event or topic. If the pre-selected sources have different biases, your students will be able to see how the media acts as a gatekeeper. This skill is so crucial for students because it helps them become competent and critical contributors to society. It is also important to include sources from diverse authors so that students are introduced to multiple perspectives and viewpoints.

In addition to including sources with different perspectives and arguments, you'll also want to include a variety of sources. You can help your students improve their listening skills by having one audio source. For the audio source, have students listen to it multiple times and take notes as they listen. For audio sources, NPR is a fantastic site to use in the classroom. In addition to including at least one audio source, you should also include sources with visual and infographics. Students need to learn how to read, evaluate, and analyze infographic sources to be more informed media consumers, and it is also a skill that state tests assess.

When selecting sources, you'll want to include at least four different sources to analyze. As students become more confident in their research skills, it is valuable to have students include a valid, reliable, and credible source they've researched on their own. This way, students can also improve their research skills as they demonstrate their ability to find trustworthy and reliable sources.
Synthesis Writing in the English Classroom

Stating a Clear Objective and Task

Now that you've got your topic and sources, it is time to establish a clear learning objective and task. With synthesis writing, you can have students produce either informational or argumentative pieces. Furthermore, there is a lot of freedom for student creativity. For example, students can write a single paragraph or a multi-page essay. You can also incorporate more creative projects into your synthesis unit, including student-created podcasts, websites, and campaigns. You can also have students use their synthesized sources in a debate, Socratic Seminar, or fishbowl discussion

  • SAMPLE OBJECTIVE: Students will synthesize multiple sources to write an argument paragraph that takes a stand and includes multiple perspectives.
Synthesis Writing in the English Classroom

Model Critical Reading

Once you have selected a high-interest topic, gathered multiple sources that include different perspectives, and have clearly identified your assignment, it is time to get started by modeling critical reading to your students. You'll want to dedicate at least one 60-minute class period to this activity. It might even span across two class periods.

Select one of the sources and read that source aloud with your students. You'll want to read it slowly and deliberately. And as you read, you'll want to annotate along the way and look for evidence to use in the assignment. When I do this with my students, I usually chunk out the reading and focus on just a couple of paragraphs at a time. I read the paragraphs out loud and then give my students some time to annotate. They then think, pair, share their annotations, and then I use a document camera to show my annotations and to also add in student-generated annotations.

This process can easily take an entire class period to get through one article. However, since this is one of the most vital steps of the synthesis process, it is important not to rush it. Students gain so much knowledge and insight about critical reading when they see and hear their teacher complete the process.

More Synthesis Related Content:
Synthesis Writing in the English Classroom

Creative Halloween Ideas for ELA

The countdown to Halloween is on! If you're looking for some fun, new and creative ideas for your classroom this October, then you have come to the right place! I'm sharing several Halloween-themed ideas that can be used during the month of October, the weeks leading up to the holiday, as well as some quick and easy ideas that you can add to your classroom on October 31st.

If you're looking for a SPOOKY way to entice some creative writing in your class, consider using 5-word horror stories. Not only are they a ton of fun, but they are also a really quick way to bring some holiday-themed creativity to your classroom. You can give your students words or themes to base their stories on (depending on the time available) and incorporate as many or as little as you would like.

For example, you could give your students some random Halloween words (bat, witch, skeleton, etc.) to base their stories on or a theme, such as school.
  • We have a test now. (Scary for students!)
  • You have hours of homework. (Also, scary for students!)
Another fun way to incorporate some daily writing practice into your class is through the use of these Halloween Bell-Ringers. This print-and-go (editable) bulletin board display is a win-win. It's not only a great way to get your students thinking critically about the prompts, but it also serves as festive classroom decor. 😀

There are 31 prompts included, but you can use as many or as little as you would like. To reveal the prompt, simply flip up or remove the cover. I let my students pick the prompts, which gives it the interactive vibe as opposed to just writing them on the board. You can use one prompt a day until the end of October or reveal a few prompts each day during the last few weeks before Halloween.

Here are a few examples of the prompts you will find in:
    • Tell the story from the perspective of a Halloween trick-or-treat bag or one of the candies within the bag. What do you see? How do you feel? This story can be based around the days leading up to Halloween, the night of, or the days following.
    • Finish the story: "Everyone said the old Miller house was haunted, but I had to see for myself. I called my friends and we made our way down Crickety Street..."
    The month of October is a great way to incorporate scary short stories into your lessons. There are tons of well-known short stories that you have probably already heard of (The Monkey's Paw, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Tell-Tale Heart, etc.), but what about some other great stories that may be less known?
    • If Cornered, Scream by Patricia Thurmond (I show this YouTube video after we read it)
    • Candle Cove by Kris Straub
    • Our Neighbor's House by Emily Carroll
    • Redcap by Carrie Vaughn
     If you are looking for a few ways to keep your students entertained during the last few days (or week) leading up to Halloween, try an escape room! I created six Halloween-themed challenges in the escape room I called, "The Great Halloween Escape!" Students will complete a variety of tasks using different skills: problem solving, critical thinking, reading and basic math. Math in English? It's a fun way to get those students involved (who may be stronger in math as opposed to English) in a peer setting. Click HERE to check out my Halloween Escape Room.

    What better way to add some spooktacular fun into your classroom than by telling some ghost stories. Whether you share some with your students, your students write their own or you find some short clips on YouTube to show, it's a perfect way to set the scene for Halloween. 

    Here are a few tips for telling the perfect ghost story:
    1. Turn off the lights. 
    2. Hold a flashlight to your face (you know, how you see in the movies!)
    3. Tell the story as if it just happened. 

    Note: You might even want to have your students use a flashlight to read their ghost stories all at once with the lights off (if you happen to have some in print) and cell phone flashlights are a great way to do so. 

    While most of us have big plans to complete Halloween activities over a few days, if we are being realistic, we often are often left to having only a small part of our class to dedicate to those types of activities. For this reason, I created this FREE Halloween Grammar Worksheet

    This grammar activity challenges a student to think critically by selecting the best word that would not otherwise fit into a sentence. In other words, instead of selecting the correct word to use in the sentence, students have to be a bit more careful in their selection by choosing the incorrect term. 

    I get so many questions on WHY I would try to confuse my students when they are already having a hard time. Now, I wouldn't give this activity to a younger student who is truly having a tough time as it is. However, by high school, students should (and I use that term loosely) have a decent grasp on these words. If you give this to your students and they still have a hard time with it, then perhaps this activity would be a great lead into a mini-grammar lesson. Grammar takes years to master. It should be reviewed often, but in my experience, it is not.

    Check out these other Halloween ideas from my fellow Coffee Shop members:
    Back to Top