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Romeo and Juliet Pre-Reading Activity

A fun and FREE pre-reading activity for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet! 5 thought-provoking questions that focus on the mains themes from the play - these will be sure to get your students excited and engaged!

Before beginning any unit, we always like to find a way to get students excited about the text we'll be reading. In the past, we've done what we call "Five Words" (students are given 5 words and asked to write a sentence using those five words about what the story will be about), we've also done "Popcorn Predictions" (students are given various sentences from the text - one sentence per student - and they "pop" around the classroom, sharing their sentences with others to come up with predictions). For my Romeo and Juliet unit, however, I wanted to do something that was a little bit more controversial - to get them really excited for the themes and events that were to unfold in the play ...

Teaching The Westing Game

Hands down The Westing Game is our favorite novel unit we do with our students. It immediately grabs their attention and keeps them engaged the entire time we’re reading it. If you don’t already teach this, seriously jump on the bandwagon and add it to your curriculum - ideal for high fifth graders through eighth grade. We promise it’s the type of book your students will beg to keep reading (we’re talking past classes wanting to stay in at lunch to finish a chapter) and remember for a long time! (We just heard from one of our students who is now a sophomore in high school, and she was reminiscing about how much fun this unit was back when she was in 5th grade with us!)

Task Cards in Middle School: Four Fresh Ideas

Four fresh ideas for using task cards in your middle school ELA (English) classroom! From Socratic Seminar to "Pass It Back" - you'll love these new ideas for discussion questions!

At a basic level, task cards are small cards that have a task for students to complete or a question for them to answer. They work extremely well for both reinforcing and assessing content in any subject matter.

Using Sentence Strips in Middle School

Whenever we hear the term "sentence strips," we always think of the 1st graders who are just learning how to read and write. We certainly don't think of using sentence strips to teach middle school essay writing. Well, that was the case until we came up with a great idea!

Using Picture Books to Teach Social Justice in Middle School

One of the things we love about working at a small school is partnering up with different grades and doing projects and mini units together. Our students enjoy this too (although they always ask if they’re being partnered with their sibling!) We absolutely LOVE the unit we have planned for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Spreading Christmas Kindness in Your Middle School Classroom

Tis the season to spread some holiday cheer through acts of kindness. We’ve come up with two mini kindness activities to use in the days leading up to Christmas and winter break.

Gingerbread House Writing Activity for Middle School

A fun and challenging Christmas descriptive writing activity for your middle school English Language Arts (ELA) classroom! A must read!

It is seriously our favorite time of year to be in the classroom! We are just as excited as our students for winter break and love to fill the weeks leading up to vacation with fun, holiday-inspired ELA activities that are still academically challenging and meeting the standards. Click here to read some of our other Christmas blog posts that share ideas to use with your middle schoolers.

A Christmas Community Challenge!

The perfect Christmas classroom community challenge to celebrate the winter holidays in your middle school classroom!

We’re already getting into the Christmas spirit around here (in fact, there are Christmas carols playing as we write this!), and we’re excited to tell you about the latest activity we’ll be doing with our students starting in late November (right after we finish this fun writing activity!).

Tips for Teaching Argumentative Writing in Elementary Classrooms

As Middle School ELA teachers, we’re often asked, “What are the main areas teachers should focus on in elementary school to prepare their kids for middle school reading and writing?” Before we get into that, can we just take a moment to acknowledge all the AMAZING work elementary teachers are doing. We’re in awe of the amount of creativity and preparation they put into their lessons, not to mention the level of patience they exhibit!

ELA Bingo Games for the Classroom

Fun bingo games for your middle school English Language Arts classroom!

We love playing games in our ELA classrooms (see our post on Balderdash here)! Frankly, it’s a great way to review concepts and keep students engaged! Recently we created a grammar bingo game and a figurative language bingo game that our students LOVED! We thought we’d share the process with you here if you want to create your own games.