Monday, July 20, 2015

First Days of English Class Blog Hop!

This post is part of the First Days of Class blog hop I'm hosting with eleven other secondary English teachers!

What is the first thing you teach your students each school year?  With most of my classes I like to start with one of two things- either a super engaging YA novel or a personal essay.

I have started several classes with Sharon Draper's novel, Tears of a Tiger.  I choose this because I have yet to find more than a couple of students that don't enjoy it.  I figure if I can get students to enjoy the first book of the year they may be more inclined to trust my choices the rest of the year, and or inspire them to do more independent reading!  Check out my Tears of A Tiger materials if you're interested.

More interesting to me though is having my students write personal essays or narratives.  I think it's really important to get to know your students early.  Students also seem to be less intimidated when asked to write about themselves!  This can also give you an idea of what a student's writing ability is if you don't use a writing diagnostic.

There are many options for personal essays.  I've done "This I Believe" essays, literacy narratives, and memoirs.  I've even had students re-imagine their essays into comics, poems, or plays which can be really fun as well.  This unit is also a great time to discuss descriptive language, imagery, figurative language, plot structure, and dialogue which helps students prepare for the literary analysis that you'll be doing throughout the year.

From having students write literacy narratives and memoirs I've found out that my students are incredibly resilient people.  They've dealt with abuse, death, foster care, comas, accidents, unexpected pregnancies, learning disabilities, and so much more.  I've also discovered that they love reading, movies, performing, math, former teachers.  I can't imagine not doing an assignment like this early in the year.

If you'd like to do lessons like this check out my narrative bundle.  I have assignment sheets, rubrics, and presentations to help make your job easier!  These are teacher tested and student approved!

Now, for the fun stuff:

Enter to win a MEGA BUNDLE of awesome ELA and back to school materials.  Here's what you'll receive:

From Reflecting Mrs. Liana "Back to School Activities and Resources!"
From Brain Leaders and Learners' Ellen Weber "50 MI Task Cards- The Fault in Our Stars!"
From B's Book Love "Comparison of Lamb to Slaughter and Little Red Riding Hood by Roald Dahl!"
From the Creative English Classroom "Greek and Latin Roots Scrapbook with Examples & Definitions" AND ""Editable Bokeh Binder Covers and Spines!
From Brynn at The Literary Maven a $10 shopping spree to her store!
From Jackie at Real Learning in Room 213 her "ELA Poster Bundle!"
From Kim at OCBeachTeacher her "American Voices Through Art:  Reading & Creating Non-Print Text!"
From Kovescence of the Mind her "Parts of Speech- Grammar Units: Identify, Diagram, Review, and Test!"
From The Daring English Teacher a $10 shopping spree in her store!
From Melissa at Making Meaning with Melissa "Sassy Sentences: Sentence Variety Using Mentor Sentences!"
From Lauralee at The Language Arts Classroom "Bell Ringers and Grammar Errors for August"
From me at Ms. Fuller's Teaching Adventures my "Back to School Bundle!"

Reflecting Mrs. Liana, Making Meaning with Melissa, B's Book Love, and Kovescence of the Mind have also teamed up with me to give away a $25 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hopefully you'll visit all the wonderful blogs featured here and get inspired for the new school year. And to the lucky winners (one for each prize) I hope you find some of your back to school preparations go just a little bit easier!

Thanks for reading! 


  1. I love how you start with a YA novel. That is s great way to show students that reading is fun!

    1. In most cases it's worked really well! I just wish all students loved reading as much as I do!

  2. Man, it's amazing to me what students will write about when you give them a chance to do a personal narrative. Many times they want to reach out and be known, but don't have the means to. Good ideas!

    1. I'm always impressed by the candor the students have. As English teachers we have a unique position where we are often given a lot of information about our students, by our students.

  3. I love reading personal writing from my students. It's such a great way for them to feel heard. Thanks for sharing!

  4. My students LOVE Tears of a Tiger! They also like the rest of the series by Sharon Draper. That's a smart choice!

    1. Have you read the Battle of Jericho trilogy? Also very good!

  5. I've never read Tears of a Tiger. I will definitely check it out!

    1. It's a very quick read for most. I highly recommend it!

  6. Love the way you have your students re-imagine their essays into comics, poems, or plays. What an excellent way to engage them from familiar roots of their own experiences! An innate approach to higher motivation. Thanks!