Browse all articles

5 Inspiring Lesson Plans for English Teachers

Check out these tech-rich ELA lesson plans from your colleagues around the country.

Tara Woodall | December 1, 2014

English teachers have the best jobs. Simply put, we teach reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Those may seem like simple skills, but they encompass a whole range of concepts and proficiencies. Keeping the busy English teacher in mind, I searched the Lesson Plans available on Common Sense Education, curating some notable examples in the following areas: analyzing argument, novel projects, research skills, vocabulary, and cross-curricular opportunities. Prepare to be inspired by the work of our colleagues across the country.

For Analyzing Argument: You Expect to Convince Me Wearing That? Analyzing the Ethos of Speakers by Julie L.

To teach students how to analyze appeals to ethos, Julie L. selected resources on topics that speak to teens: laws of attractiveness and gaming. She also includes links to her Prezi and assignment template. That Prezi is chock-full of instructional goodies that teachers will love.

Julie's Lesson Plan uses TED talks as a starting point. If the suggested TED talk by Jane McGonigal is too long for your class, other shorter TED talks like Arthur Benjamin's three-minute argument on mathematics or Graham Hill's five-minute argument on decluttering could work. Teachers can eventually move kids to analyze argument in seminal U.S. documents.

For Novel Projects: Fahrenheit 451: Synthesis, Argument, and Animation. End of Novel Project by Kirsten S.

Have you seen an RSA Animate Series video and wanted to help your students create their own? I have. Luckily for people like me, Kirsten S. created a Lesson Plan that will help us bring this project to our classrooms. Kirsten asks students to create animated whiteboard videos. In her Lesson Plan, she provides not only a clear set of instructions but also her prompt and cheat sheet for the app used in the video editing.

Even though her Lesson Plan focuses on Fahrenheit 451, the beauty of it is that it can be adapted to a variety of purposes. Not only can students create animated whiteboard videos based on any reading, they can also create videos to explain nearly any concept: logical fallacies, the semicolon, irony, etc.

For Research Skills: Investigating Conflict with Annotated Bibliographies by Kirstin S.

Generally when I think of conflict, the last thing I think about is pairing that with research. I tend to think about conflict only in terms of literature; I should not. Conflict is everywhere. Kirstin S. found a way to connect teaching types of conflict with research skills. She opens her Lesson Plan with a TED talk to instruct on the seven types of conflict before moving into instruction on writing annotated bibliographies. Students use Newsela to find articles that feature conflict. (Spoiler alert: Conflict abounds!)

This Lesson Plan is incredibly inspiring. It makes me wonder how we can take other literary concepts and ask students to work with them using this process. Would it work for irony? What about characterization? Absolutely! The possibilities are endless.

For Vocabulary: Vocabulary Building - for ELs and World Language Students by Leigh M.

Leigh M.'s Lesson Plan takes advantage of all the visuals available to teachers online through Flickr and the Google Art Project. Students collaborate to describe images using target vocabulary, simultaneously practicing their listening and speaking skills.

Even though this Lesson Plan is primarily about building vocabulary through listening and speaking, a teacher can take this idea and teach many concepts and skills. Consider using the same tech tools with artwork to help kids better develop setting in narratives. Provide a work of art that captures a setting, throw it in a Padlet, and have kids collaborate to write descriptive scenes.

For Cross-Curricular Opportunities: Analyzing Immigration Primary Sources by Cary Z.

Even though Cary Z.'s Lesson Plan is targeted for seventh grade, you can easily adapt it for a high school classroom. Cary taps into the power of the Library of Congress to get students to read, analyze, and write about primary sources. Cary provides links not only to her resources, but also to her instructions and student work. What I find most powerful about this Lesson Plan is how it develops not just analytical reading and writing skills, but also speaking and listening skills through reciprocal teaching.

While her Lesson Plan focuses on the topic of immigration, a teacher can take her work and transform it into a blueprint for any topic with primary sources. If you're teaching skills through studying Arthur Miller's The Crucible, for example, you could ask students to look at primary sources from the McCarthy era.