20 Blog Posts to Read Before 2020

Updated: Dec 30, 2019

The New Year is the perfect time to get inspired and start fresh. These twenty blog posts will help you shape a healthy vision for 2020 in your secondary ELA classroom. Enjoy and have a wonderful new year!

1. Work Smarter, Not Harder: Grading Edition

One of my most popular blog posts, this one will help you save grading time while providing your students with meaningful feedback they will actually apply #goals

As English teachers, grading is our biggest struggle. If you're looking to save hours of your life, this blog post is for you, friend.

2. 5 Essay Grading Tips for Grading Essays Faster and More Efficiently

Speaking of grading, my friend Ashley from Building Book Love has five awesome tips that will help you to save time. Her tips for using highlighting and peer review stations puts the ownership in students' hands, helping them to learn and grow and saving you valuable time!

3. 4 Essential Scaffolding Strategies for Middle and High School

Scaffolding helps all of our students to access challenging material in our classrooms. Melissa from Reading and Writing Haven shares her top tips for scaffolding reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary. Apply these strategies and not only will you see lightbulbs going off for your struggling learners, but all learners will benefit from increased use of graphic organizers and layering of skills.

4. Teacher's Guide to Organizing First Chapter Fridays

Whoever came up with the idea for First Chapter Fridays is BRILLIANT and truly understands how to engage students in reading. This guide from Lauralee at Language Arts Classroom is an awesome place to start if you've been wanting to start this program in your own classroom. I especially love her advice for inviting guests!

5. The Literary Analysis Essay: A Teacher's Guide

Literary Analysis essays can be a beast to tackle, especially in the middle school classroom. I absolutely love how Amanda at Mud and Ink Teaching breaks down the process so not only is teaching the literary analysis essay manageable to teach, but it's EASY (dare I say enjoyable!). Her tips are so simple, but will make the writing process more meaningful for students, too.

6. Jason Reynold's Procrastination Blog

If you know me, you know Jason Reynolds is one of my favorite young adult authors. I can't keep his books on my bookshelf. In his blog, he takes the National Poetry Month 30/30 challenge, writing drafts of poems for 30 days straight for you and your students to enjoy. Check. it. out. You won't regret it. On a very real note, it's important for students to see the drafts of successful authors. These poems are pretty polished, but students will be able to see one of the best authors of our time challenging himself by writing a little bit every day. That's pretty special.

7. Reading Aloud to Middle School Students

I am guilty of not making enough time to simply read with my students in our super short, 40 minute classes. This post helped me to realize how to fit read alouds into my existing curriculum and give them purpose.

8. The Miseducation of the American Boy

This is a must read for all educators AND parents. As a mom of two boys and a teacher of hundreds of boys over the years, this read was an awakening for me. As educators, we need to rethink our assumptions about how we collectively raise and educate boys.

9. Us Vs. Hate

Teaching Tolerance is one of my favorite magazines for education. This article shares a powerful program started by Bonita Vista High School in California that worked to select and teach anti-hate lessons, asked students to create anti-hate messages based on their learning, and worked to share these messages with the larger community. This empowering program is inspiring and can give educators ideas for promoting acceptance in your own schools and communites.

10. Socratic Seminar

In addition to their articles, Teaching Tolerance is an awesome resource for teaching materials. This article gives educators all the steps for implementing Socratic Seminars in their classsrooms.

11. How to Organize Your Life with Google Keep

Shana, otherwise known as @helloteacherlady on Instagram, is my go-to for all things Google and tech. Her tips for using Google Keep to get organized CHANGED MY LIFE. I am a list person, but I used to use any scrap of paper I could find to jot down my ideas, and I would often lose them (don't judge!). With Shana's tips for using Google Keep, my lists are organized and all in one place.

12. How I Use Passion Projects to Deepen My Students' Relationship With Reading

Passion Projects are one of my favorite culminating activities for Independent Reading. The first year I implemented them in my classroom, I was admittedly terrified because I had to let go of A LOT of control. The end result, however, was the most amazing surprise. This post will give you all of the tips you need to implement passion projects in your own classroom.

13. Teaching Students to Paraphrase

Ever have your students rearrange the order of words in a text and think they're not plagiarizing? Yeah, me too. This post shares great tips and tools for teaching students how to master this difficult skill.

14. Understanding a Teacher's Long Term Impacts

What we do in our classrooms is not all about increasing test-scores. Educators already know this. In this post, author Youki Terada explores the research that shows the impact of all the noncognitive skills we teach. It’s an important reminder of what is truly important in the classroom.

15. The Wrong Way to Teach Grammar

Almost twenty years ago, I wrote my Master's thesis on the research behind teaching grammar. Unfortunately, what we so often see in the classroom today doesn't always reflect the wealth of research that shows grammar is best learned through reading and writing. Read this article, then reflect. How can you teach grammar through your student's reading and writing? I promise the results will be more effective than a worksheet.

16. How to Make Students Care About Writing

Imagine a classroom where all of your students are motivated to write. I love this post because it reminds me of the why behind teaching writing. It also gives some simple shifts to help your students to care more about writing and stay motivated. Hint: feedback is key.

17. Can Reading Make You Happier?

Share bits of this post with your students. Spoiler alert: Yes, reading can make you happier. This post explains how.

18. The Full Issue of the 1619 Project

The 1619 project includes a wealth of resources to help students uncover an untold American history of slavery, oppression, and overcoming. This link will send readers to the full collection of essays that are part of the 1619 project. The articles and materials included will compl

19. Strategies to Foster a Sense of Belonging in Your Classroom

Kids cannot learn well unless they feel like they belong. This post shares strategies (and videos) that will help educators create that sense of belonging in their classrooms.

20. How Ibram X. Kendi's Definition of Antiracism Applies to Schools

Eradicating racism requires action. At the very least, this article will get you thinking. It includes actionable steps to reflect on and to include in your teaching.

Happy reading, friends! Cheers to a fabulous 2020. Please share your questions, comments, and reflections in the comments below. Let's keep the conversations going!

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