5 Easy Ways to Refresh Your Secondary ELA Curriculum for the New Semester
As the new semester approaches, it’s a great opportunity to take a fresh look at your English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum and consider ways to make it more engaging and effective for your students. Here are five strategies to consider!
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Incorporating diverse texts in high school English Language Arts (ELA) classrooms can be an effective way to refresh the curriculum for a new semester and provide numerous benefits for students, including:
- Broadening students’ perspectives and understanding of the world. By exposing students to a range of cultures, histories, and experiences, diverse texts can help students develop empathy and broaden their understanding of the world around them.
- Promoting inclusivity and equity. By including texts written by authors from diverse backgrounds, teachers can create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all students. This is especially important for students who may not see themselves reflected in the traditional curriculum.
- Encouraging critical thinking and analysis. Reading texts from different perspectives and cultures can challenge students to think critically about the world and their own assumptions and beliefs.
- Improving reading comprehension and vocabulary. Reading texts from a variety of genres and styles can help students develop their reading skills and expand their vocabulary.
- Adding fresh and engaging content to the curriculum. Incorporating diverse texts can bring new ideas and perspectives to the classroom, making the curriculum more dynamic and engaging for students.
By including diverse texts in the curriculum, teachers can create a more inclusive and engaging learning environment for their students and refresh the curriculum for the new semester.
Use Technology and Social Media
Use technology to enhance learning. Technology has the power to transform the way students engage with texts. Consider using digital tools such as online literary magazines, e-books, or video lectures to supplement your lessons.
One of my favorite ways to incorporate technology is by leveraging social media for formative and summative assessments.
Formative assessments are ongoing evaluations of student learning that inform instruction and help students improve their skills. Social media platforms such as Twitter or blogs can be used as formative assessments by providing students with a platform to reflect on their learning, share their ideas, and receive feedback from their peers and teachers. For example, teachers might ask students to tweet about a book they are reading or write a blog post summarizing a lesson.
Summative assessments, on the other hand, are evaluations of student learning that occur at the end of a unit or semester. Social media can also be used as a summative assessment tool by providing students with the opportunity to create a final project or presentation that showcases their learning and skills. For example, students might create a podcast, video, or social media campaign to demonstrate their understanding of a specific topic or theme. You can check out my free TikTok Book Report resource here as an example!
Encouraging more student choice is a great way to refresh your secondary ELA curriculum in the new semester. Giving students the opportunity to choose their own texts for class discussions and projects can foster a sense of ownership and engagement. You might consider setting up a classroom library with a variety of options, or allowing students to propose texts for the whole class to read.
One of my favorite ways to incorporate student choice is by using choice boards.
Choice boards are a tool that teachers can use to encourage student choice and voice in the high school English Language Arts (ELA) classroom. Choice boards typically consist of a grid or matrix with a variety of options for students to choose from. These options could include different activities, projects, readings, or assessments related to a specific unit or theme.
By providing students with a range of options, choice boards give them the opportunity to choose the tasks that most interest them or align with their strengths and learning styles. This can foster a sense of ownership and engagement in the learning process.
To use choice boards in the ELA classroom, teachers can:
- Determine the objectives and goals of the unit or lesson. This will help ensure that the options on the choice board are aligned with the learning objectives and that students are challenged to demonstrate their understanding.
- Create a list of options for the choice board. These options should be varied and allow students to showcase their skills and knowledge in different ways.
- Present the choice board to students and allow them to make their selections. Teachers can provide guidance and support as needed to help students make informed choices.
- Monitor student progress and provide feedback as needed. Choice boards provide an opportunity for teachers to assess student learning in a more personalized way, so it is important to check in with students and provide feedback to help them grow and improve.
By using choice boards, teachers can give students a voice in their learning and foster a more engaging and personalized learning environment.
I use choice boards to teach a variety of informational standards. Here are a few of my choice boards:
Informational text: Thanksgiving
Informational text: Freedom of Speech
Informational text: Greek Society
Host author visits or book clubs. Inviting an author to speak to your class or starting a book club can be a fun and inspiring way to shake up your curriculum. Students will have the opportunity to connect with the material in a new way and learn more about the writing process.
Meeting an author in person (or over Zoom!) can help students feel a personal connection to the text and understand the work in a new way. They may have the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the author’s inspiration and writing process.
Hearing from an author can be an inspiring and motivating experience for students. They may be inspired to try their own hand at writing and explore different genres and styles.
Incorporate Authentic Assessments
Authentic assessments are evaluations of student learning that reflect real-world applications of skills and knowledge. In high school English, incorporating authentic assessments can be especially effective for a number of reasons:
- Authentic assessments provide students with the opportunity to apply what they have learned in a meaningful way. Instead of simply recalling information or completing a worksheet, students are asked to demonstrate their understanding by creating a project, presenting a performance, or solving a real-world problem.
- Authentic assessments foster critical thinking and problem-solving skills. By asking students to think creatively and apply their knowledge to a new situation, authentic assessments encourage higher-level thinking and the development of important skills that are applicable beyond the classroom.
- Authentic assessments promote student engagement and motivation. When students see the value and relevance of the work they are doing, they are more likely to be motivated and invested in the learning process.
- Authentic assessments provide a more accurate assessment of student learning. Traditional assessments, such as multiple choice tests, often only measure a narrow range of skills and knowledge. Authentic assessments, on the other hand, provide a more comprehensive view of student learning by evaluating a wider range of skills and abilities.
Incorporating authentic assessments in high school English can be an effective way to challenge and engage students, while also providing a more accurate and meaningful assessment of their learning.
By implementing one or any these strategies, you can create a dynamic and engaging ELA curriculum that will help your students grow as readers and writers.