Do hope your school year is coming along well. So many educators find schedules disrupted by athletic games and artistic events that draw students’ attention away from day to day class activities. Don’t fight it. Roll with it. Invite students to write about their experiences in connection to the readings they are doing in your English Language Arts class.
- Ask students to think about what characters or authors would be likely to join their team, drama and singing group? Would they approve or disapprove of students spending time in this way? If one of them were in the audience, who would be sitting with them? What character or author from another reading?
- Practice punctuating dialogue between the characters and/or authors. Ask them to assume a persona and tweet with a classmate in another persona from your readings. First, however, they could be asked to write a rationale for their choice and the topic(s) to be discussed.
- Could require that they incorporate specific number of vocabulary words in their writing. Full credit for completing on time and accurate citation using page or paragraph numbers. Could be checked in class by peers.
Of course, students would be asked to cite specifics from their readings to support their choices! It’s perfectly all right for students to have fun as they connect their personal experiences to topics studied in your class. If, however, writing about personal experiences will make them uncomfortable, give your students the option to write about real or imagined incidents. The goal is to keep them reading, writing, talking and focused on your course without creating undue tension by demanding they learn totally new information. Let this be a time of reflection and projection.
Invite students to present to the class oral presentations of poetry or excerpts from speeches, or a digital design that supports or refutes a topic your class is studying. See this poster created by Med Kharbach. Ask students to design a project based on topics studied in your class that shows how well they are developing their digital skills. This could be group projects that could be used during review week before semester exams. See Writing About the Holidays as another option.
In other words, use this end of the year end of the term time to reflect on what already has been learned rather than trying to force feed students new information when so many of them are distracted by other equally important activities in their school and family lives. By adjusting your instruction, you honor them, but do not release them from practicing the reading, writing, speaking, viewing, discussing, and critiquing skills you are charged to teach as an English Language Arts instructor.