Back-to-School Planning 2: English Language Arts Resources
Teaching With Books: Old Favorites, New Recommendations
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brown Girl Dreaming. This post examines the autobiography of Jacqueline Woodson's childhood, growing up in the Deep South of the 60s and experiencing Jim Crow laws and prejudices. She also has a learning disability, which goes undiagnosed for many years, but still finds encouragement to develop her writing. There is a free, publisher-provided educator's guide, and the book addresses your non-fiction Common Core standards, as well as poetry standards in 7th grade. The content also addresses Social Studies Civil Rights standards.
April is National Poetry Month! Additional books written in verse are recommended, including those mentioned above, in this round-up with links to books written in verse by authors such as Kwame Alexander, Patricia Reilly Giff, Thanhha Lai , Karen Hesse, Mariko Nagai and Dr. Seuss. Links to resources for teaching The Outsiders and Robert Frost's, Nothing Gold Can Stay are also included.
Iambic Pentameter and Ian Doescher. Want a fun way to Introduce iambic pentameter to your students? Look no further than the books by modern iambic pentameter bard, Ian Doescher. Included in this post are additional links to a TedX talk examining the links between iambic pentameter and hip-hop and lessons that utilize Doescher's books as whole-class Reader's Theater opportunities, while watching the corresponding movies.
Identifying POV: Literary (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) & Perspective
Challenging Cultural Preconceptions through Literature: The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge, by M.T. Anderson. This is a fantasy book presenting two POVs (or perspectives) -- one from an elf, the other a goblin. One character is blinded by his cultural preconceptions about the other, and it nearly leads to an entire species' annihilation. This book could be an interesting way to approach teaching POV (perspective, not 1st, 2nd or 3rd person, etc.) standards in 7th grade ELA. The publisher offers a discussion guide, the illustrator offers fantastic renderings of the illustrations, and there's a stunning book trailer on YouTube.
May the 4th Be With You: Use Star Wars Choose Your Own Destiny Books to Identify 2nd Person POV
This post suggests a simple review lesson of pulling books off your in-class or at-home (during social isolation for COVID-19) shelves and reading the opening lines to determine the literary point of view, or POV, of each text. It offers a free worksheet for students to record titles and evidence supporting their decisions. It suggests stocking your bookshelf with Choose Your Own Destiny and Choose Your Own Adventure books in advance, Including Adam Gidwitz's So You Want to Be a Jedi?, so students get some practice reading and identifying that rare literary creature, 2nd POV: "You are in a cave and..."
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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