Organizing ELA Units for the Year - EB Academics

Grab Your Free Writing Guide

Become an EB Insider Today

Organizing ELA Units for the Year

July 2, 2017 3 min read

Organizing ELA Units for the Year

July 2, 2017 3 min read
This year, we both made the shift from teaching mostly novel units, to incorporating mini units of short stories and poetry in between each novel, and we couldn’t be happier! Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE teaching novels/plays (The Westing Game (5th grade) and Othello (8th grade) are some of our hands down favorite novels/plays to read with our students, but sometimes novels just take a long time to get through with our kiddos. There’s so much to talk about and write about that two months can fly by, and we’re still on the same text!

 

Enter mini units. Here’s what we’ve noticed since adding short stories and poems into our year long curriculum:

1. Higher student engagement.
Because we’re reading a variety of short stories and poems, we’re way more likely to find topics that interest a greater number of students. Let’s face it, not every kid is going to enjoy the novel we select for the class to read. This year our topics ranged from a soldier returning home from war (“Soldier’s Home” by Ernest Hemingway) to a young boy given an unlikely second chance (“Thank You, M’am” by Langston Hughes), to a young girl experiencing a mortifying experience on her eleventh birthday (“Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros). The variety of the topics and themes led to some amazing Socratic Seminars, and we got to see students’ unique perspectives shine through.

2. Increased proficiency in citing and justifying textual evidence.
We require our students to write a response to literature after each piece of text we read. Since they must have evidence in their writing, the short stories and poems offer a wonderful opportunity to find a variety of evidence. It’s also helpful that they are working with so many different texts to find evidence to support questions about characterization, theme, and symbolism.
3. More complex analysis.
We choose our short stories and poems with great care. Not only are they engaging to students, but challenging as well! We have our fifth graders analyzing Hemingway short stories and poetry by Edgar Allan Poe, and guess what, they LOVE it! This year our fifth graders wrote thought-provoking essays on whether true love is possible at a young age through the lens of Poe’s “Annabel Lee.” (They were obsessed with this poem and would hang out at recess just to argue their points more!)

4. More reading happening in the classroom.
Since we’re analyzing shorter pieces of literature, we’ve found that we move through the texts more quickly which leaves time for increased independent reading! Now, we spend a good portion of class time on books students choose and we hold them accountable with our Reading Response Bingo.

Again, don’t get us wrong. We are not completely giving up on our novel units at all. But, these mini units have been wonderful to help our students become more proficient readers and writers. What worked best for us was to do a short story/poem unit around the various holidays. It helped keep our students engaged and on their toes as we were switching topics up quite frequently.

If you think you want to do the same thing or something similar in your own classroom, we’ve organized the stories and poems we used into a year long resource which you can purchase by clicking here or on the image below. You can also purchase each of these holiday resources individually from our Teachers Pay Teachers store

We truly think it will be a wonderful addition to your own curriculum!

The most effective way to teach ELA in your middle school classroom! Use short stories and poetry to get students analyzing, discussing, and writing about literature! The perfect curriculum and units to use :)
As an aside, to keep ourselves organized, we created binders of our units with each resource printed out and in order from the beginning of the year until the end of the year. This summer, we’re working on adding the cute covers and binding everything using a binding machine that recently arrived from Amazon!

 

The most effective way to teach ELA in your middle school classroom! Use short stories and poetry to get students analyzing, discussing, and writing about literature! The perfect curriculum and units to use :)
Save this post for later!
The most effective way to teach ELA in your middle school classroom! Use short stories and poetry to get students analyzing, discussing, and writing about literature! The perfect curriculum and units to use :)
EB Academic Camps

All posts

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Welcome!

Welcome!

Hi there! We're two middle school ELA teachers with a mission to share ideas, tips, and tricks for effectively teaching reading and writing in the secondary classroom. We're so happy you stopped by!

Caitlin + Jessica

Your 15 Free Resources Are Waiting!

Immediately receive access to our
Free Resource Library

We promise we won't spam you.

Let’s Connect

Popular Posts

Our Latest Posts

Categories

Instagram

  • Are you the person who shows up on time or 10 minutes late?⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
I grew up knowing the rule that if you’re on time, you’re late! ⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
And because of that, I wear a watch every, single day ❤️🤷🏼‍♀️ ⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
So, when @jordwatches reached out to me to send me some watches, I said, “Heck yes!”⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
And you know what? I honestly really LOVE this watch. It really is so well made. ⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
I’ve partnered with them to do a little giveaway for you! ❤️🥳 All you have to do is go to the link in my profile and click on the button that says “JORD Watch Giveaway” to enter to win $100 off of any watch!! ⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
Even if you don’t win, you’ll get a nice 10% off coupon code that will be emailed to you. ⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
The winner will be emailed within the month once the contest has ended. ⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
Can’t wait to see who wins!⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
😘
  • QUICK GIVEAWAY ❤️😘 I’ll be picking TWO teachers to receive these positive student notes!⁣
⁣⁣⁣
I made these awesome positive sticky notes for middle school students that are a great way to build classroom community!⁣⁣⁣
⁣
Simply ...⁣
1️⃣ Like this post ❤️⁣
2️⃣ Follow us ✅⁣
3️⃣ Tag a friend! 👯 ⁣
⁣
⁣⁣⁣
Let me know if you’d like me to DM you the link to our store where you can grab these!⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
Happy Thursday you guys ...⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
... almost there 😘
  • Give me a ❤️ if you’re a One Pager fan like Jessica and I are!⁣⁣
⁣⁣
But ...⁣⁣
⁣⁣
... you have to make sure you’re using them CORRECTLY!⁣⁣
⁣⁣
So that students are genuinely engaging with and reflecting upon the text in a meaningful way. ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
It’s not all supposed to be just rainbows and bunnies (although who doesn’t love those?!) 🐰 ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
We put a whole blog post together for you all about the one pager assignment so that you can make sure you’re using it effectively in your classroom.⁣
⁣
Head over there so you can make sure to avoid some easy mistakes as well as make sure your students no longer turn in “ehhhh” work!⁣
⁣⁣
Link to read is in our profile! 😘
  • Double tap if you agree ❤️❤️⁣
⁣
So many of you left messages on my post from the other day about needing to hear my message (if you haven’t read it yet, go back a day and do so). ⁣
⁣
But I really do want you to know that as the years go on, you’ll get better at teaching the actual content. ⁣
⁣
You’ll come up with fun lessons and ideas. ⁣
⁣
Exciting and engaging strategies. ⁣
⁣
You’ll be able to track data more easily and use it to help influence your craft. ⁣
⁣
But until then, just teach your kids to be GOOD people. To do good in the world. To love others. ⁣
⁣
And love them. That’s really what so many of them truly need. ⁣
⁣
A good role model and another adult who wants what’s best for them. ⁣
⁣
Do that 😘 ⁣
⁣
Love to you all, friends! 
Quote originally posted by my friend @hansonhallway ❤️
  • Alright, alright ... I guess I’ll participate in the #10yearchallenge (even though this is 11 years). ⁣
⁣
I’m trying to think of the advice I would have given to my 22-year old self about teaching ...⁣
⁣
- It’s literally the best job. Ever. Take it from someone who has left teaching twice, only to come back because I missed it so much!⁣
⁣
- You need to learn to separate yourself from your work (especially emotionally when it comes to parents, admin, colleagues, or students who disagree with you). I’ve totally changed how I handle challenging parents/students/situations, and it’s made a WORLD OF A DIFFERENCE in my mental health. ⁣
⁣
- The first 2-3 years, just do your best and love the kids. Eventually you’ll master how to actually teach, but that doesn’t come right at the beginning. You really have to work for that. ⁣
⁣
- Be open to criticism, feedback, and observations!! People really do just want you to be the best teacher you can be! You can’t do that if you aren’t willing to change and try new things. ⁣
⁣
- Sleep. Go to bed at a decent hour and sleep. The grading will always get done, but there’s nothing more important than sleep. ⁣
⁣
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
  • Double tap ❤️ if you’re team Oxford Comma like I am! •
📸@prestoplans

Follow @ebacademics

×