Three high impact, low prep lessons for middle school ELA

If you’re like me, this school year feels extra exhausting, and now, we are entering the strange part of the school year with multiple breaks to plan around. Through all of this, my saving grace has been low prep lessons with high impact. I make sure to have several at the ready for those times when I need to catch my breath and focus on keeping up with grading, communicating with families... and did I mention grading?!


Below, you will find three of my favorite high impact, low prep lessons. Everything is done for you. Simply share in Google Classroom, and you can check one giant item off of your to-do list!

  1. "Thank You, Ma'am" mini-narrative writing unit.

This unit focuses on close reading, analysis, and narrative writing skills. Students complete a close read of the story, then work in break out rooms to complete an analysis. Students use "Thank You, Ma'am" as a mentor text, working through the process of brainstorming, plotting, drafting, revising, and peer editing their own narrative about a person they feel grateful for. This is a feel good lesson full of meaningful learning experiences!


Kids will instantly connect to Langston Hughes's short story, "Thank You, Ma'am" (my students' favorite line: "she kicked him in the blue-jeaned sitter"), and the work is easy to implement in face to face, hybrid, and remote learning classrooms. Simply share the Google Slides file in Google Classroom so each student receives a copy, and students can get started!

2. The Holiday Hustle: Deconstructing informational texts and advertisements


Need an engaging, standards-based project to get you through December? The Holiday Hustle combines some of the most fun skills to teach: a little media literacy and advertising built in with close reading and analysis of informational texts. This study covers FIFTEEN reading and writing standards. Students begin by deconstructing advertisements and build their skills towards deconstructing informational texts. Students end by creating their own Deconstructing Advertisements guide and their own holiday advertisements!

3. Let it Snow: poetry analysis


Poetry can be tough to teach; however, the magic of the winter season makes it easy with this mini-unit on poetry analysis! In this study, students read and analyze four winter poems, then choose their strongest analysis to display on a one-pager style snowflake. Snowflakes can be used to decorate the classroom or can be shared on Flipgrid in remote classrooms.

Need a lesson to fill one or two days? Be sure to subscribe to my blog for five free downloads, including one of my favorite high impact, low prep lessons: Battle of the Senses!


This time of year is hard, ESPECIALLY in the midst of a pandemic, but hopefully these lessons can help you through and make life a little bit easier!


🤍 Emily


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