7 Great Resources for the ELA Teacher on Cyber Monday Sale


Cyber Monday Sale

It's time to take advantage of TPT's site-wide sale on Monday, November 27th and Tuesday, November 28th with savings of 25% off when you use the promo code CYBER23 at checkout. We have compiled our favorites that you won't want to miss for this sale! Check them out here:

1. Are you looking for a resource you can use with ANY novel study? If you do lit circles and have students reading different novels at the same time, this NOVEL STUDY resource will help keep you and your students focused and on track. I use these resources to help my students analyze the plot, characters, setting, and other story elements as they work through their books. This bundle also includes activities for creative student response, unique final projects, and more! - Addie Williams

2. Danielle from Nouvelle ELA loves using escape rooms to build classroom community, increase student collaboration, and cultivate her students’ love for reading. If this resonates with you, then you and your students will love TERMINUS—a found-dystopian digital adventure series geared towards 8th and 9th grade students who read below level. In this standards-aligned digital escape room, students practice making inferences, sequencing, and prioritizing information. This resource also includes optional extension activities. With TERMINUS, your students will be begging to learn!

3. The Daring English Teacher  is all about teaching essay writing to her students in a way that is accessible and engaging. This essay writing unit includes paragraph-by-paragraph instruction with color-coded examples guided outlines! Plus, it includes both the print and digital formats to help make essay writing instruction a breeze!

2024 new year activities

4. Tracee Orman knows how much teachers like to plan in advance, so she has updated her popular New Years Activities resource for you for 2024! This bundle includes sooo many different activities, you can pick and choose or do them all. Plus, it includes DIGITAL in Google Slides for paperless or for students on vacation.

5. Jackie from ROOM 213 knows just how hard it can be to pull students through those last weeks before the winter break. That’s why, during those days, she loved to use activities that kept students engaged and learning. You can find a whole pile of her favorites in her Games & Challenges Bundle. There are activities for building word choice, learning to use figurative language, honing persuasive & argumentative skills, improving grammar and more!

6. Are you looking for a creative way to meet all your writing and language standards while still keeping students engaged! Presto Plans does this by having students write a paragraph of the week! On Musings Monday, students respond to an argumentative, narrative, descriptive, or expository prompt and write freely without worrying about grammar or structure. On Transform Tuesday, they will learn a new writing skill and apply it to their paragraph. On Wordsmith Wednesday, they will improve the language by integrating figurative language, stronger word choice, transitions, and more. On Technical Thursday, students will learn a new grammar or structure skill and apply it to their writing. Finally, on Finalizing Friday, students will review their paragraph and make any last-minute adjustments. Click here to give it a try!

7. The Classroom Sparrow  Imagine this: You or a character of your choosing, have just been invited to attend an ugly sweater Christmas party. You will now have the opportunity to evaluate and carefully select the dΓ©cor for this festive Christmas event. They can be used as individual Christmas writing activities or as a complete unit, as they all go hand in hand, yet offer something different in each activity. Click HERE to get the ugly party started!

We hope you take advantage of these great deals and coast until your holiday break!

Winter Activities for Teens & Tweens

 As we move towards more inclusive classrooms and schools I am focusing more on the seasonal changes rather than holidays.  I think that there are so many sensory details tied to the seasons and depending on where you live, the seasons can have a huge impact on how you live your daily life.  As a Canadian, I feel the impact of winter and love to incorporate winter-themed activities into my lessons.  

Here are some easy ways to incorporate the winter season into your lessons!

1.  Use winter-themed words and phrases to inspire writing!  Use this FREE activity to help your students find inspiration in the season to write a poem or short story.  Use the words in the subway art to help your students write.  You can ask them to use a different colored word for the starting line of a poem, for the start of a haiku, or for the beginning of a short story.  Sometimes all it takes is a word or two to get started!

2. Use winter-themed poems! Use them for a poetry analysis activity or as a starting point for their own.  There is so much imagery to be found in writing focused on the seasons as we feel the seasons with all of our senses.

Some of my favourites are:

    Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening - Robert Frost
    Snow Day - Billy Collins
    Winter Trees - William Carlos Williams
    Ice - Gail Mazur
Beyond the Red River - Thomas McGrath

3.  Use winter imagery as a backdrop to a typically boring activity like grammar!  Check out my Parts of Speech Review Activity with a fun winter theme.  Just print and go! Includes a review quiz and answer keys.  

4.  Use an animated short as a writing prompt! I love The Little Bird and the Leaf for a unit on perspective.  Have the students write from the perspective of the fox, the bird, or the leaf.  What do they notice? What do they see? think? feel?  There are more videos in The Little Bird series - you can find them on YouTube and they're all just as delightful as this one is.

5.  Winter idioms can be a fun way to inspire more poetry or writing!  See how many winter-themed idioms your students can come up with.  Have them create posters to represent their favourite idiom - I have seen some very creative representations over the years!  Or grab my Winter Idioms activity - another print-and-go resource that can be used as an emergency sub plan or quick lesson on idioms.

To check out all of my winter activities including lessons on perspective, grammar, writing, and more click HERE!

For more wintery activities from the ladies of the Secondary English Coffee shop please check out these fabulous resources:

Snowball Writing - Presto Plans
Daily Agenda Slides for the Winter - The Classroom Sparrow
Teaching Poetry before Winter Break - blog post from Nouvelle ELA

5 Pop Culture Analysis Activities for ELA

Using pop culture analysis in Secondary ELA can be a great way to leverage alternative text types and hook students’ attention. Using songs, video games, short films, and TV episodes in ELA means that students build their analysis skills on stuff they’re already interested in. 

Here are five lessons I LOVE from my collection, Mixed Media: 15 Pop Culture Lessons. I’ll keep it short-and-sweet in this blog post, but the full resource includes full summaries, editable lesson plans, bell ringers, and extension ideas.

  1. Horizon Zero Dawn opening scene (video game)

  • Characterization

  • Setting

  • Making Inferences

The opening scene to the video game is not only great for its stunning graphics, but also for its intriguing character, setting, and thematic development…and all in a span of 5 short minutes! Even though the scene does not answer all of our questions, it provides students with plenty to analyze. Students can analyze minor details, like Rost humbly kneeling to the robotic machines, or major details, like the revealing dialogue between the fighting matriarchs. Students are guaranteed to find new details with every watch!

  1. “Lock Up” (short film)

  • Horror techniques

  • Building suspense

  • Analyzing film (camera angles, etc.)

In “Lock Up,” we have the gamut of horror techniques in a three-minute short film. We open on a nameless office worker about to lock up for the evening and go home to his wife and kids. He ends a quick phone call to his wife by promising to be home soon. He methodically locks every door, but keeps having “that feeling” that someone’s in the building. Every little noise is making him jumpy. At the end, a masked figure is revealed who murders him.

Okay, I don’t like horror. At all. But! I do see the artistic value in it, I guess. If you like horror and you want to show some to your class, this is a great catch-all for horror-isms. 

  1. Terminus, chapter 1: Reveil (digital escape game)

  • Making Inferences

  • Suspense

  • Found texts

When you walk by, do your students switch from their “super secret” gaming tabs to their “super efficient” schoolwork tabs? Yeah, mine too. But what if you gave them a game to play that is actually standards-aligned and rigorous? 

Terminus is a four-part digital adventure series geared towards 8th and 9th grade students who read below level. This story is a post-pandemic, found-text adventure. Playing as Rania, students work to solve the mystery of the MILSA outbreak by reading letters, memos, manuals, and emails left behind. Each game has puzzles and riddles that engage students in collaboration and critical thinking. 

  1. “The Rashomon Job” - Leverage (TV episode)

  • Narrative Structure

  • Humor

  • Suspense

Leverage is a heist show with a different “job” each episode. Our team of criminals are Robin Hood-types, of course, using their amazing crime skills to take down the bad guys. In this episode, each of our team members recount a crime five years earlier (before they knew each other), when they all stole the same piece of art… sort of.

If you’re not familiar with Rashomon, you really don’t need to be in order to enjoy this episode. The core concept is that the story changes with each narrator. In the case of our team, each person remembers the event sliiiightly differently, and it’s not until the last telling that it all comes together.

  1. “Poor, Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid (song)

  • Rhetorical Appeals (Ethos, Logos, Pathos)

  • Flattery

Have you watched Disney’s 2023 version of The Little Mermaid? If you haven’t yet, it is an adorable adaptation with MUCH more diversity and inclusivity. The storyline stays predominantly the same, so for this activity, you can use either version.

If you need a refresher, Ariel, a mermaid, has a strict father, King Triton, who prohibits her curiosity and exploration of humans. However, this does not stop her. One night above the sea, a storm causes a ship to crash and nearly drowns a human, Prince Eric. After Ariel saves him, her desire to be “where the people are” grows astronomically.

Enter “Poor Unfortunate Souls.” Ursula, the conniving Sea Witch, sees Ariel’s vulnerabilities and uses her mighty persuasiveness to take advantage of the moment. This song is rich with rhetorical appeals. Your students will have so much fun dissecting a familiar song with an analytical lens.  

This activity focuses specifically on ethos, pathos, logos, and flattery. There are certainly other persuasive techniques you can include too. Students will practice transferable skills like close reading, annotating, collaborating, and analyzing from different perspectives. 

Grab this activity for free!

If you teach this lesson, I am sure you’ll notice your students’ engagement levels skyrocket! The best part? These pop culture analysis activities prep your students with the skills they need to be critical readers of the world. 

Your students will thank you and ask to do more!

Happy teaching, friends!

        - Danielle


5 Fun and Creative Literary Analysis Activities for Middle and High School ELA

Teaching literary analysis to middle and high school students can be a challenging task. Afterall, it involves so much more than simply teaching comprehension. True literary analysis involves uncovering the how and the why of a work.

Teaching literary analysis in the middle school ELA or high school English class doesn't have to be tedious and boring. By providing students with engaging activities that allow them to explore the complexities and nuances of literature while allowing them creative freedom can help students not only understand the text on a new level but it can also make the process more enjoyable for both teachers and students alike.

Here is a list of five fun literary analysis activities that you can incorporate into your classroom to enrich your students’ learning experience, develop critical thinking skills, and develop a deeper understanding of literature. Plus, I've added in the daily learning objectives for you for each of these creative literary analysis activities to help save you some time!

1. Character Instagram Profiles

Daily Learning Objective: Today, I will demonstrate my understanding of literary analysis, character analysis, and inference skills by developing a character social media profile.

Engage your students’ creative sides by having them create Instagram profiles for various characters in a novel or story they are reading. They can create the profile for each character by setting up the character’s bio and profile image, including posts, stories, and comments from the perspective of the characters. To add more rigor and a deeper understanding of the text, ask students to include specific posts that include textual evidence about the setting, conflict, and mood of the story.

You can help students begin this activity by providing your students with character descriptions and encouraging them to think about how the characters would use social media. This activity not only fosters character empathy and allows students to analyze character traits, motivations, and development, but it also requires students to practice their inference skills.

If you are looking for literary analysis activities that are quick and easy, check out these activities for any novel. This resource includes a premade Instagram profile handout!

2. Literary Podcasts

Daily Learning Objective: Today, I will demonstrate my ability to analyze literature by creating a podcast that shows my communication skills and understanding of the text.

A fun way to challenge students to task them with creating a podcast episode that discusses the themes, characters, and symbolism in the text. This is a perfect activity for students to work on collaboratively, and they can even complete the assignment with their Chromebooks! To add more structure to this assignment, have students complete the podcast episode with an interview format where a host or two co-hosts invite guests onto their show to discuss the text.

You can help your students by sharing examples of podcasts with them during class. Having students work collaboratively to create a podcast episode is a great literary analysis activity to help students explore literary concepts and themes, look at literature in a new way, and express their insights verbally and creatively.

3. Literary Analysis Mini Flip Book

Daily Learning Objective: Today, I will show my understanding of the text by analyzing the story on multiple levels and including textual evidence and commentary on various literary elements.

My literary analysis mini flip book is perfect for students to practice and demonstrate their literary analysis skills during or after a short story or novel unit. This mini flip book includes eight tabs: about the reading, character, setting, conflict, symbols, plot, theme, and summary. Each tab requires students to go deeper and provide in-depth analysis accompanying textual evidence!

You can help your students begin to understand literary analysis by employing the gradual release of responsibility model with this activity. Since there are eight tabs, you can provide the students with a class example of evidence and analysis for the character tab, then have students work in pairs for another tab, and then release students to complete the remaining tabs independently.

4. Literary TED Talks

Daily Learning Objective: Today, I will enhance my public speaking skills, promote in-depth analysis, and communicate my thoughts effectively by preparing for and delivering a TED Talk.

Another great way to encourage students to dive deeper into the literature is to have them prepare and present TED-style talks on various aspects of the text. For this assignment, have each student prepare and deliver a 2-3 minute presentation where they deliver their analysis to the class. Before students deliver their talks, show them a TED Talk in class so they can see how the speakers present themselves and deliver the information. Encourage students to practice beforehand, and rather than having a script they read verbatim, only have a few talking points they wish to cover so that the talk is more engaging and authentic.

In their TED-style talks, students can share their insights and analysis with the class. To help students get started, assign topics, provide guidelines for creating engaging presentations, and allow students to use multimedia resources. For example, several students can present the symbols in the novel, others on the conflict, and others on the theme. To add even more rigor, students can share their analysis through critical reading lenses such as a historical reading lens and a feminist reading lens.

5. Literary Analysis with Sticky Notes

Daily Learning Objective: Today, I will show my understanding of the text by analyzing the story using textual evidence, analysis, and illustrations.

There’s a reason why I always keep coming back to these sticky note literary analysis activities: they work! Once I started teaching literary analysis with sticky notes, I saw my students’s understanding of the text and ability to analyze it improve drastically! What makes this method so effective is the dual approach of the student using both textual evidence and student illustrations to show their understanding of the text. The added layer that the sticky notes add to the organizers brings more complexity to the assignment because students also illustrate their analysis.

Watch as your students enjoy using sticky notes in class as they analyze the author's use of various literary devices in complex short stories and novels. This resource includes organizers for various literary elements, including symbolism, conflict, setting, characterization, plot, tone, and more!

One of the best ways to help students learn to analyze literature is by including various activities and assignments throughout the school year. These five activities provide innovative ways to engage middle and high school students in the process of analyzing literature while also providing them with an opportunity to practice social skills and explore their creativity. By incorporating creativity, collaboration, and interactive experiences, you can inspire a love for reading and critical thinking that will stay with your students for years to come.

More engaging literary analysis activities:

Ways to scaffold writing in middle and high school

 Teaching writing to middle and high school students can be an adventure, can't it? You may have students who can write better than you, as well as ones who struggle to create even a single coherent paragraph. Then there's that big group in the middle that's hard to keep on task. Regardless of where your students fall on this spectrum, each one can benefit from supports during the writing process.  Try some of these ways to scaffold writing with middle and high school students, and you will see some big improvements.

If your students struggle to get started when you assign writing, there can be a number of reasons. It could be that they:

✅ Don't know what to do or how to do it

✅ Have ideas but are unsure how to present them coherently

✅ Know what to do & are capable of doing it well, but perfectionism has them paralyzed

✅ Don't want to work. That's another issue I'll deal with below... you'll find a link at the end of this post.

When we provide all students with writing scaffolds, we can take away the barriers that keep them from starting. We can give them a roadmap for a successful piece of writing, no matter what level they are starting from. Then, they will have the confidence that they know what to do, and a belief in themselves that will lead to greater motivation - and better writing.

Scaffold with sentence starters

One of the easiest ways to scaffold writing in middle and high school is with sentence starters.

Sentence starters, or frames, are templates you can provide your students to give them a leg up. By giving students a few words or phrases - and even some mentor sentences - you provide them with a structure for expressing their ideas. These patterns can help all students, regardless of their writing proficiency, because they help anyone struggling to start for any of the reasons mentioned above.

Those who just don't know what to do have a pattern to copy. Those who are worried they aren't going to do it the right way can use the starter to get over their perfectionism paralysis, and those who just don't want to start are losing their excuses!

πŸ‘‰πŸ» You can grab some starters that I use for opinion writing here and for literary analysis here.

Using  sentence starters during class discussions provides another scaffold for the writing process because it gets students in the habit of using them whether they are giving a quick response to a question, doing a turn-and-talk, or having a small group discussion. Ask your students to frame their comments in a way that strengthens their analytical muscles.

If your students get used to chatting about their texts using language that focuses on analysis, then they will create a habit that will help them when it comes time to write. You can read more about this process - and check out the posters I use to provide daily scaffolding with sentence starters - here.


Provide patterns for paragraph writing too

Yes, your middle and high school students should know how to write a paragraph. I hear you. But I know you've struggled through unfocused, disorganized piles of sentences despite that fact.

So why not do an activity that scaffolds the skill of writing a well crafted paragraph? This is an extension of the sentence starters idea because you give your students a nudge for each sentence in the paragraph.

You start with a phrase that focuses their topic sentence and then you give them an idea for what to put in the sentences that follow, all the way up to the concluding sentence. This strategy works well for individual writers, but it's also a really fun activity to do as a group. Each student gets a different starter for the topic sentence and then, after they write one, they pass their sheet to the next student, who writes sentence number two.

This process gets repeated until the paragraph is complete. However, during the activity, students are prompted to use a variety of strategies for developing the paragraph. By the time they are finished, they've had practice with building a paragraph and have a model to use when they write independently.

If you like this idea and want to get the activity ready to print and go, you can check it out here.

Scaffold writing skills by showing, rather than telling

When we teach writing, we often tell our students to show, rather than tell. We want them to create pictures in their reader's minds using well chosen diction and imagery. Likewise, creating a picture for your students that illustrates good writing is one of the most effective ways to provide them with scaffolds.

teach writing by showing not telling

One of the most successful activities I ever did with my students showed them how to write a literary analysis paragraph. Analyitical writing is an area that many struggle with, but this exercise helped them see what they needed to do to be successful. By giving them the ingredients and the chance to work together to build an analytical paragraph, they got the skills – and the confidence – they need to do it on their own.

To do this activity, you need to:

✔️ Write a short analytical paragraph on a text you read together

✔️ Use large font and blow it up on the copier

✔️ Cut each sentence intro strips and mix them up out of order

✔️ Give each group all of the mixed up strips

✔️ Have a competition to see who can put them together correctly first

πŸ‘‰πŸ»Click here to get more detail and to access the directions for this activity

Teaching writing

Use color-coded samples to scaffold student writing

When I want my students to try something new, I start with a sample, a model that let's them see what a successful piece of writing looks like. We also start small, with short paragraphs rather than longer pieces of writing. That way, they can build their skills and confidence before I ask them to do longer, more complex pieces.

The "Quotable Quickie" was a very successful example of this scaffolding strategy. My students always got overwhelmed when thy had to analyze some aspect of  a text AND provide support and explanation. So, we slowed down the process and focused on analyzing one quote only. I gave them a sentence frame to use and color-coded all of the components I wanted.

They had to choose a significant passage from a text and then createdmtheir own quotable quickie. They also had to color-code and label it like mine, so they enusred that they followed all the steps of the process. And guess what? Their writing and analysis improved drastically! Read more about this process here.

Scaffolding the writing process

Devote class time to the process

The absolute BEST way to scaffold writing for your middle or high school students is by devoting lots of class time to the writing process. Students need to see that good writing doesn't just magically flow from a pen or fingers; instead, it comes from lots of thinking, rethinking, revising, and reworking.

One step that gets skip over - or that students really struggle with - is the one that comes even before prewriting: thinking. So, the more time you can devote to helping them think through their ideas, the better their writing will be. 

I made a big deal about the fact that prewriting was very much a thinking process, and provided lots of opportunities for students to work on this before we ever started talking about a particular writing assignment. For example, before we did persuasion and argument, we would discuss debatable topics in class and get students to think about and justify a stance. This provided them with the skills they needed to start planning and organizing their persuasive essays. Read more about that here.

argumentative writing

Then, when it was time to work on a longer assignment, like their persuasive research essays, we took it one step at a time, learning strategies for getting focused and organized, for creating engaging openings and effective conclusions, and many ways to engage the reader in a well developed argument. 

And, we spent a lot of time in class working on these components of a good essay. Students were provided with lots of samples to help them see the path to success, activities to build their skills, and time to reflect on feedback they got from me and their peers. I explain that process on this post.

So, those are my favorite ways to scaffold writing in middle and high school. I hope that you've found something to help you in your classroom. Please reach out if you have any questions!

πŸ‘‰πŸ» Is your problem that students just won't do any work? Read this: Get students to do work that's not graded

You might also like to read:

✅ Teach writing with short assignments

✅ Three strategies for teaching writing

Thanks for reading!

Jackie, ROOM 213

πŸ‘‰πŸ» Get more scaffolding ideas from my friends here at the coffee shop:

Paragraph of the Week, Presto Plans

Graphic Organizers for Narrative Writing, Addie Education

Creative Writing Round Robin, Nouvelle ELA

Breaking down instruction to build strong writers, The Daring English Teacher

Writing a Summary, Mrs Orman


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