When was the last time you thought about making English class fun? When you think of your English class growing up what images come to mind? Sitting in your chair, listening to the teacher talk about whatever novel you are studying.
My favourite memory of English class was a “Lord of the Flies” type simulation where we had to survive on the “island”. Today two teacher bloggers are sharing their favourite ways that they make their English class fun.
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Kim from English Oh My and Kristy from 2 Peas and a Dog have teamed up to share our top 10 ways to make English class fun. Bookmark this blog post so you can reference these ideas when you lesson plan.
Don’t forget about chart paper and markers. (Kristy)
We have become so obsessed with technology that we forget how much students love to work in groups with chart paper and markers. I don’t break out the chart paper every day because I have a limited supply. But when I do bring it out the kids are excited to work with smelly markers and this large paper!
Try Digital Escape Rooms (Kim)
Incorporating anything with technology in the classroom is extremely entertaining, but taking technology to the next level is a bonus. Digital escape rooms have your students solving puzzles, answering curriculum questions, and engaging in teamwork all while trying to beat the clock. The best part? All you need is a website link! I use these Digital Escape Rooms all the time with my students, and they constantly ask for more.
Sticky Notes (Kristy)
I use sticky notes for everything – entrance passes, exit passes, thinking while reading, student responses, student organization. I get a small budget each year from my district to buy supplies and I always stock up on sticky notes so that I have a steady supply.
Turn test prep into a game. When my students prepare for a test, I try to make the review into a game. Students love online games like Kahoot, Quizlet, Quizizz but they also love Jeopardy, quiz show games or other low tech game ideas. I give students 1 class period to make a study guide following my template and then the next period we play a review game.
Add Music (Kim)
Kids love music. I usually use music when the students are working independently, and I will play it softly in the background. My students find it extremely relaxing, and there are many instrumental playlists out there for the classroom on Pandora and Spotify. They also think it’s pretty cool their teacher lets them listen to music while they work.
Switch up the seating plan regularly. (Kristy)
I use these Flexible Seating Cards to make changes to my seating plan regularly. As students enter the classroom they get given a card and must find the desk with their symbol on it. I use these once classroom norms and procedures have been established and are working well.
Use Dry Erase Lap Boards (Kim)
Students love friendly competitions. I found these small Dry Erase lap boards on Oriental Trading, and you can use them with Expo markers. Sometimes, I will break the kids into teams, and each team receives a whiteboard. I will ask questions, and the first to write the answer legibly, correctly, and holds it up, gets a point. There are so many other ways you can incorporate these lap boards into your classroom, activities and review.
Bring in concrete items (artifacts) where possible. (Kristy)
Depending on your unit of study, bring in items that represent that unit, time period or place. When I teach The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton I try to incorporate as much pop culture as I can so that students really understand the novel. If you were teaching Lord of the Flies by William Golding you could bring in aviation and island-themed items.
Let Students Color (Kim)
Regardless of age, students love to color. This is why I try to incorporate coloring into many activities, especially review. I created these Colorful Comprehension activities just for this purpose. Why not let students review in an engaging and creative way? Coloring is relaxing for students, and this is one way to interest your students in regular review activities.
Mix Up Whole-Class Novels with Short Stories, Lit Circles, Book Clubs and Independent Reading
We cannot continue to keep feeding our students a steady diet of 100% whole-class novels. Students need time to work in small groups and discuss books with their peers (book clubs) or have time to develop themselves as readers. Check out how I keep my student organized with independent reading with this journal assignment. My students love short stories. I use one story to model the lessons I need my students to work on and then they work in their short story groups to dig deeper into their assigned short story. Check out Short Story Unit 1 and Short Story Unit 2. Rethink your syllabus and see where you can integrate these options.
Take Your Students Outside (Kim)
We find students lose concentration when they are sitting at their desks for 40 minutes (sometimes longer). They love to move and are active, especially at the middle school level. When you have a really nice day, take advantage of it! Teach your lesson outside, and let your students enjoy some fresh air. Sensory writing activities are amazing when they are completed outside, and the students have the opportunity to use their senses and their imagination.
These 10 ideas have showcased how to use low prep ideas to make English class fun for students and teachers.
Kim has taught middle school English for 19 years. In addition to teaching English, she has taught Project Based Learning, Character Education and a Writing class for 6th-grade students. She loves being inventive and creative with her lessons, and she is always willing to try turnkey ideas in her classroom. When she is not in her classroom, she also writes the blog English, Oh My! And shares her educational resources for middle school teachers on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Kristy has taught ELA and almost every other subject to 7th and 8th-grade students for over 12 years. She is guilty of always having a book in her hand – even at the dinner table! She writes the blog 2 Peas and a Dog and shares her education resources for middle school teachers on Teachers Pay Teachers.
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