Hello, August! With back to school planning in full swing, I wanted to share my seven must-have English Language Arts lessons for distance learning. I created these resources with versatility and student engagement in mind. All lessons have a digital focus, so it’s easy to implement if you’re doing online learning or a hybrid model this fall.
I created some of these lessons specifically for distance learning, like the reflective one-pager and prepper activities. All of the resources were designed for high school students, but they could easily be adapted for middle school students.
Pablo Neruda Ode to Food Poetry Activity
I’ve loved teaching this lesson to my students over the years. Students think like Pablo Neruda by analyzing a fruit or vegetable and crafting a Pablo Neruda style ode about it. When my school switched to remote learning last spring, I adapted this lesson by having students use produce found in their kitchens.
To frame their understanding of odes, students begin with analyzing a stanza of John Keats’ classic “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” anticipate features of Neruda’s odes based on Keats’ famous model, and ultimately analyze a fruit or vegetable in a celebratory manner that would make Neruda proud.
My students consistently rate this activity as one of their favorites from the year!
Emily Dickinson Poetry Task for Social Distancing
Help comfort your students with the knowledge that they are not alone in being separated from the world. One of America’s greatest writers, Emily Dickinson, practiced (and enjoyed!) social distancing.
Working with the poem “Some Rainbow Coming from the Fair,” students analyze the poem’s features, including the title, rhyme scheme, and structure. Then, like Dickinson, they gaze out their windows to make observations of their surroundings With their newfound observations, they craft a poem using a pre-created template inspired by “Some Rainbow Coming from the Fair.”
(If you’re looking to learn more about authors who practiced social distancing, meet the #socialdistancersofliterature with this literary-themed social distancing poster set.)
Parts of Speech Scavenger Hunt
This engaging scavenger hunt tasks students with locating two or three dimensional objects at home that demonstrate their understanding of each of the parts of speech. For example, one of my students found a seashell to demonstrate that he understood nouns. This memorable task will offer a helpful review of parts of speech and a new lens of looking at their surroundings.
Reflective One-Pager for COVID-19
When I created this resource, I wanted my high school students to create a primary source standpoint based on the historic moment – something that they could share years from now with their own children!
My students reflected on their initial experiences hearing about Coronavirus, changes to their communities, their daily schedules during the pandemic, e-learning, and their predictions for the future based on the pandemic. This activity helps students understand that they are a part of history.
American Preppers Informational Text
This resource is a perfect way to pique student interest in a group that has been receiving a lot of press during the pandemic: preppers. Preppers, commonly known as survivalists, prepared for any number of events like emergencies or pandemics. This resource features a three-page informational text about American preppers in the past, present, and future. It contains anticipatory and reflective questions along with five multiple-choice questions.
Character Analysis for Independent or Class Novels
I loved sharing this activity with my students last spring. Students select five books and five objects that reflect their character and then defend their responses with evidence from the text. Students love the creativity of this assignment and I was so impressed with their defenses.
Character Reenactments for Independent Novels
This resource is easy to implement digitally and tasks students with carefully reading an independent novel, selecting a character and lines which embody his/her character development, and performing them (dressed in costume) via any digital platform you’d like.
The best feature of this task for you is that there is no written component to grade! You can grade as you listen. Who doesn’t love that?
Happy Back to School! How are you encouraging your students’ creativity during distance learning?