ELA blog posts. Education blog posts. What is impacting teachers today and in 2020?
As 2019 wraps up, I hunted for the blog posts that influenced me as a high school ELA teacher. I found dozens of ideas about grammar, papers, public speaking and more. And sure, those are important, and I’ve linked to some below.
I also found ELA teachers venturing outside the classroom, which highlights what I love most about the educational blogging community: we expose our experiences from the classroom. We reach outside our community to find pertinent information for our students. This year, the outside world poked into the classroom. Even ELA blog posts covered the outside world in regards to our struggles.
So: here are the top dozen (maybe a few more!) ELA blog posts from 2019 to read before 2020.
Literary Analysis Essay
Amanda from Mud and Ink articulates the struggles and adventures of teaching writing in her post on the literary analysis essay. We are in this together, and her advice is spot on: START with the rubric and develop a game plan. Yes! Sometimes, we forget to start with the big picture.
Additional Resources and Support
Teachers cannot make every activity that is required to meet the personal needs of students, the differentiation expectation, IEP and 504 requirements, and the standards and goals. Sure, I sell on TpT, but I also purchase on TpT. I have written a book, and I have a master’s degree. Like many teachers, I worked for other textbook and educational companies before branching out on my own, and those businesses considered me the expert. The idea that my activities aren’t classroom ready rejects evidence and previous experiences.
Do I think that my products are perfect for every teacher and student? Of course not. My activities work for many, and I give dozens away for free. Murph at Teacher Habits highlights more of these issues at his post, Teachers Pay Teachers is Not the Problem.
My friend Melissa is a literacy coach so when she writes a new post about scaffolding in the ELA classroom, I listen. In her post about essential scaffolding strategies, she gives great tips. What is the most helpful to me is that she covers when to remove the scaffolding so that we are pushing students toward independence. I know I’ve been guilty of hanging on too long.
Grammar is Timeless
The study of grammar is increasingly important as we see arguments over words and the meaning behind words. Politicians and marketing folks will manipulate language to achieve new followers. Grammar is not simply for the affluent, and if you’ve been around my blog, you know I fight for all students to have access to quality grammar instruction. In What Makes Grammar A Timeless Subject, Richard Nordquist highlights years of discussion about grammar instruction.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
(Are you seeing a theme in these posts?) Like so many teachers, Emily articulates the need for more time for teachers. In her post about grading writing, Emily walks you through her grading process and provides a video for cutting grading time. She also reminds teachers to build in time for application of the feedback. Students must look at teacher feedback, practice it, and again get feedback. The conversation must be ongoing.
The discussion over caught vs. taught with reading continues in How Do Kids Learn to Read? Educators hashed over their beliefs and anecdotes on Twitter, which in turn caused more controversy. As a secondary educator, this research won’t impact me directly, but of course, quite indirectly. A section that really gave me pause:
There is a lot of correlational research that shows that children who read more are better readers. But many of these studies don’t quantify how much reading students are actually doing. While they may specify a time frame—15 minutes of sustained silent reading, for example—the studies don’t report whether kids spend this time reading. That makes it difficult to know how effective choice reading actually is.
So much of building our classroom libraries and using literature circles centers of choice reading. The entire blog post caused me to reflect.
First Chapter Fridays
Speaking of student choice in reading, I encourage personal reading with First Chapter Fridays. I look forward to this ten-minute window every Friday. Students enjoy hearing a story, and I love showcasing different authors, genres, and narrators. The entire process warms my teacher-heart, and I’d love for you to experience the same!
I love Instagram and so do many of my students. When I found 9 Inspiring Instagram Poets, I immediately followed those writers. I want to bring modern writers and ways of connecting to the classroom, so that post was perfect.
Revision is Necessary
Sometimes, just sometimes, students need a reminder that a final draft is probably not a final draft. When I deliver a reminder to students, I sometimes look to the experts. Penguin Random House published a beautiful reminder this past year that yes, everyone, even famous novelists, write and rewrite and edit and revise and then rewrite some more.
Habitually writing helps too, and students then have low-pressure opportunities to write.
I once took home dozens of essays, but I stopped to regain my sanity. Ashley had a similar revelation and blogged about her new process. Research shows that old process to be ineffective, but shows that timely feedback helps students. In 5 Essay Grading Tips, Ashley details how she and her students interact with essays and build a conversation that is meaningful.
Young Adult Literature
Goodreads provided the top young adult books of 2019. On the list are three that I have read: Frankly in Love, The Grace Year, and Birthday. Staying current is a goal of mine concerning what my students read.
I am building a classroom library, and this post from We Are Teachers gave me some new ideas. No matter where research or ideas take us, I know that I want books in my classroom. I want to show students that I am a reader, that they can experiment with books, that books are windows and mirrors. I include picture books and watch my students explore them.
Interview with a Middle School Principal
I’ll end with my friend Julie and her interview with a middle school principal. As students and later as non-teacher adults, we might not see the underworking of a school. The principal supports the teachers, and the teachers support the students. (Deans, psychologists, counselors, social workers, and other support people make the gears turn as well.)
Julie’s interviewee had this to say: “I support teachers first and foremost by listening to what they say.” Read the rest of her interview.
Throughout 2019, blog posts reminded me of what I hold true: education changes constantly. Students change. Our world evolves. We teachers must stay current. Thanks to all the bloggers who help me stay current in the classroom.
What would you add? Did a few ELA blog posts resonate with you this past year?