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
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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

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

  • Give me a double-tap if you’re a 1st or 2nd year middle school ELA teacher asking, “Does this ever get easier?” ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
You might feel like you’re drowning and struggling to grasp for air. Grades are due, weekly lesson plans were supposed to be turned in already ... To top it all off, you’re in grad school and the yearbook moderator! ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Like I said yesterday. I get it. I was you!⁣⁣
⁣⁣
And I just want to tell you with 100% honesty that YES! It does get easier! ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
But if you’re feeling like you’re drowning RIGHT NOW, I want to urge you to take an hour out of your day for yourself to join me in a free online PD that is going to start changing everything for you! ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
In our hour together, I’ll be sharing with you how to take back your weekends and weeknights and save yourself hundreds of hours in planning this year! ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Let me know in the comments if you’d like me to send you a DM with the link to grab your free spot! 😘♥️
  • Is this you? 🤪⁣
⁣
You’re half watching episodes of Below Deck (yes, my guilty pleasure) while scrolling through Pinterest searching “engaging short story ideas for middle school” and then hopping over to another site to find a unit or an idea, and then somehow you find yourself on a blog about how to make a graham cracker cheesecake crust without a springform pan ... 🤦🏼‍♀️⁣
⁣
At this point, you have 10+ different tabs open, and you’re piecing together this week’s lessons while asking yourself, “Is THIS what I signed up for?? When is teaching going to stop taking all of my free time?!”⁣
⁣
Well, I’m telling you that I WAS that teacher. That 100% was me for the first 3-4 years of my teaching career. I. GET. IT. ⁣
⁣
But, I will tell you that I DID make a change. And that frantic teacher who was wasting hours of their time online is no longer me 🎉 I was able to figure out a way to stop doing that every night and every weekend. And it all boiled down to one thing:⁣
⁣
Effective lesson planning ✅ ⁣
⁣
And what I want to tell you, is that ...⁣
⁣
YOU can make a change RIGHT now because I put together an entire FREE Online Masterclass PD where you are immediately going to learn strategies for lesson planning that will give you back your weeknights and even your weekends!⁣
⁣
Let me know in the comments if you want me to DM you the link to register, or you can click on the link in our profile to sign up!⁣
⁣
Spots are LIMITED, so I’d suggest reserving your spot ASAP!⁣
⁣
See you guys there!! 🥳😘
  • Give me a ♥️♥️♥️ if you had a chance to listen to last week’s episode of The Teaching Middle School ELA Podcast with Ashley from @buildingbooklove !! If you didn’t get a chance to do so yet, DEFINITELY head over to the podcast to give it a listen!⁣
⁣
Ashley shares ... ⁣
🎧 the research behind WHY we should be using podcasts in the classroom ⁣
🎧 how to get started with podcasts in the middle grades ⁣
🎧 and even some AMAZING podcasts and episodes you could use RIGHT now with your kiddos!⁣
⁣
If you were able to listen, I would love, love, LOVE to know what one of your takeaways was from the episode! Please take a moment to share in the comments with me 😘⁣
⁣
If you haven’t had a chance to listen, but would love for me to DM you the link, just let me know in the comments below, and I’ll get our info over to you!⁣
⁣
You can also search for us wherever podcasts can be found (for the most part!): Teaching Middle School ELA ✏️
  • Double tap if you already have our FREE ebook Your Balanced Year! It’s all about finding balance in your teaching life ♥️🍎⁣
⁣⁣
We’ve included over 25 pages of content that includes tips, strategies, structures, free lesson plan ideas, activities, and links to even MORE free content! ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
... plus a special link to our Balanced Teaching Approach Facebook Group where we have ANOTHER free resource download for you as well ♥️ ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Come join us on this journey to find more balance in your teaching life 😘 ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
LMK in the comments if you’d like me to DM you the link!
  • Double-tap if you are a lover of Poe like I am 👻 Old picture from last year, BUT ...! Jessica and I are working on something FABULOUS that has something to do with one of my favorite short stories ever! AND ... I’ll be letting you know how you can get it for free ... in like 3 weeks! Lol 😆 But it’s coming, I promise ♥️
  • Give me a ♥️ if you’re a podcast listener? ⁣
⁣
This is a quote from last week’s episode of our podcast, The Teaching Middle School ELA Podcast, where I shared a bunch of easy and engaging ELA games that you can infuse into your curriculum. ⁣
⁣
Now, I’m not talking CRAZY things here. Just simple games that have a big impact on student learning and engagement. ⁣
⁣
If you haven’t listened yet, head over to wherever you can listen to podcasts and search for us!⁣
⁣
Next week, we’re talking about actionable ways to incorporate mindfulness into YOUR life as a teacher. I’m so excited to have Kailey from @educalme with me to share her brilliant insights and ideas with you!

Follow @ebacademics

×