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Back-to-School Planning 2: English Language Arts Resources

Teaching With Books: Old Favorites, New Recommendations

· Teachers

So you're teaching English Language Arts in 7th or 8th grades and you need some literature recommendations? Preferably with Common Core standards attached? And minimal work for lesson planning? And you don't have a lot of money to spend?

Here are my suggestions, resources and lesson plans, taught and tested in middle school classrooms, faith-based and not, private and public.

Of course, I taught a LOT of historical fiction novels as well, because I believed ELA and Social Studies teachers should coordinate and reinforce each other's content standards.

So if you're looking for non-fiction books, in particular, don't forget to check out the materials and lesson plans offered in my post Back-to-School Planning 1: Teaching Social Studies with Books.

Also be sure to check out the next post, Back-to-School Planning 3: Independent Reading Assignments by Quarter. Those can be used in either English or SS classrooms.

And of course, who can resist Star Wars and the Bard? Check out my final post, Back-to-School Planning 4: Fun with Star Wars!

If you have any books you'd like to recommend I add, please let me know in the comments.

Novel Units

Fahrenheit 451: Excellent Free LP and Teaching Materials!

This post includes a free set of comprehension questions from Carolina K-12 and a Literary Taxidermy Anticipatory Set for the book.

Perennial Favorite: The Outsiders

This post includes downloadable materials, including an anticipatory set with example of student work, a before reading prediction prompt, vocabulary and dictionary of terms, character list, connotation vs denotation, a point-of-view writing prompt, themes and identifying figurative language in Frost's, Nothing Gold Can Stay.

Related Materials

Teaching the Hero's Journey

This post offers a great graphic for your students to use for reference, as well as a printable info-graphic poster outlining the hero's journey in 6 movies: Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Matrix, Spider Man, Lion King and Lord of the Rings.

Short Stories

Strong, Diverse Heroines in Short Stories

This post includes comprehension questions and one background building activity for seven (7) short stories in the anthology edited by Jessica Spotswood, A Tyranny of Petticoats, as an antidote to the traditionally all-male, all-white authors (such as Ray Bradbury) typically taught in 8th grade.

Creepy Short Stories on Page and Film

This post includes a lesson plan for comparing creepy short stories to their film adaptations, links to films, Audible audio files and a play adaptation of the following short stories: The Sound Machine, by Roald Dahl, The Tell-Tale Heart, by Edgar Allen Poe, and The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson. Students read an article in the Wall Street Journal showing how filmmakers elicit emotional responses in viewers, take notes on a Power Point presentation of filming techniques, then listen / watch and compare the two mediums of presentation.

Short Story Questions

This post recommends you stock your bookshelves with the Guys Read short story collections of 6+ books. While older, they're high interest stories -- sports, true events, horror / thriller, funny and science-fiction -- and they're available used and for less than retail price, making them affordable. In addition, the publisher offers free comprehension questions (2-3) for each short story. This post includes the link to those.


Teaching Poetry with High Interest Poems

This post suggests teaching wtih the poems collected by John Foster and illustrated by Korky Paul, using the uploadable Poetry Analysis Bellwork Slips and three pamphlets on figurative language, types of poetry and rhyme schemes.

Poetic History: Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc, by David Elliott

This book includes examples of the following poetry forms: ballade, rondeau, rondel, rondelet, sestina, triolet and villanelle.


Horrific Friday Bell-Ringers

This post includes a downloadable set of 35 Bellwork slips, one for each of 35 short stories included in the book, Half-Minute Horrors, by Susan Rich, et. al. Perfect to set the tone for the month of October!

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