The "Best of the Best" Lessons by English Teachers

Do you want to know what some of the "best of the best" lessons are, as told by English teachers themselves? I'm sharing mine in this post, both my best-selling resource in my Teachers Pay Teachers store and the one resource that I wish every English teacher used. Then, you can click through to read other teachers' best lessons!

I always love exchanging ideas with other English teachers, and I've often wondered what my colleagues regard as their BEST lessons.
  • What unforgettable project, lesson, or unit is their best work?
  • What do other teachers have to offer that would change my teaching life?
  • What lessons and files exist that EVERY English teacher should possess?
In my search to answer these questions, I invited other ELA teacher-bloggers to participate in a giant roundup of our best work. We all have to write about our best-sellers and/or the lessons we offer that we most want other teachers to know about!

My "Best of the Best"
Technically, my best-selling lesson is my Chapter Study Guide assignment to use for any novel, and I think that's true for several reasons.

Do you want to know what some of the "best of the best" lessons are, as told by English teachers themselves? I'm sharing mine in this post, both my best-selling resource in my Teachers Pay Teachers store and the one resource that I wish every English teacher used. Then, you can click through to read other teachers' best lessons!

How it Works
In this activity, students fill out a graphic organizer with literal and deeper-level questions on just one chapter of a novel; then, prepared with their thoughts, they help lead the discussion of that chapter in class. Students are graded for both Literature and Speaking standards, and they take ownership of the content (both individually and as leaders of the class).

Over 500 teachers have voiced their approval of this activity as well, and they've liked that...
  • It applies to any text. I've used this assignment to teach the "staves" in A Christmas Carol, but the editable 
  • It demands student engagement. There's no room for SparkNotes and falling asleep here; the graphic organizer's questions require some thought, and at least in my class, the discussions are often lively... since I let the student leaders call on other classmates to answer their prepared questions.

My Secret "Bests"
As much as I stand behind my Chapter Study Guides, there are some items in my TpT store that I wish I could scream from the rooftops about... ones that are time-savers, ones that boost student confidence, ones that make visible change in student writing, and ones that keep English teachers sane and organized.

But if I had to pick ONE...

I wish every English teacher had my Book of the Month (Independent Reading) Program.

Do you want to know what some of the "best of the best" lessons are, as told by English teachers themselves? I'm sharing mine in this post, both my best-selling resource in my Teachers Pay Teachers store and the one resource that I wish every English teacher used. Then, you can click through to read other teachers' best lessons!

There's a middle school version and a high school version, and I stand behind its relevance for modern secondary students.
  • Maybe it's because I made it from scratch in an urban high school and refined it in a suburban middle school, so I know it really works. 
  • Maybe it's because I'm a Kelly Gallagher fan, I believe in choice reading all the way to grade 12, and I'm passionate about converting reluctant readers.  
  • Or maybe it's because I'm a jaded veteran of reading programs that I did NOT like using (*cough*AcceleratedReader*cough*). 

But this program is simple, editable, and consistent student reading that is easy to assess and doesn't kill the novel for students. Even if you're in the middle of a school year, it's not too late to start this program at a new month, quarter, or semester.

You can read more tips for running a smooth independent reading program here, in this blog post. :)

Read On!
Click through to see the blog posts and materials from other English teachers! Click on all of them to view both their ideas AND their sales!


15 comments

  1. Sara, I love your chapter study guides! Anything that makes students take more responsibility for their learning is always a winner for me. I especially like that you combine it with a speaking activity. What a fantastic learning experience!

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  2. That graphic organizer looks great! I could see students getting a lot of quality learning done with a tool like that. I'm going to check that out!

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  3. I love these ideas, Sara! I have also found some sound, practical tips for independent reading and student choice from the The Book Whisperer. I'll definitely be checking out your chapter study guide and Book of the Month reading program...what great ideas. Thanks so much for sharing! I'm following!

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  4. I LOVE new ways to approach independent reading, and a love of books is my favorite thing to share with students. Your program clearly makes it simple to assess students without killing their enjoyment of a book. Hooray! Thanks for sharing!

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  5. I love that you created a resource that promotes literacy, but doesn't kill the love of reading. I loved reading your linked post about the 15 Tips for Pulling off Independent Reading. It sounds like it really made a difference for your students! Thanks to you, new readers were born! :)

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  6. Love the chapter organizer to help students prepare for meaningful discussion! I'm always looking for new ways to get students to take ownership of their learning. I can see Kelly Gallagher's influence on your instruction. He's fantastic and your resources are also!

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  7. I love that your Book of the Month resource offers choice for both teachers and students! I agree with you that giving students choice is the key to not only getting students to engage with literature, but to also discover a true love for reading. Thank you for sharing!

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  8. Thanks for hosting the blog hop, Sara. I like that you include prompting students to deeper level questions. I'm impressed by the passion you have for empowering students to read and be self-directed. One of the biggest challenges I've had is helping reluctant readers find books they like, period. Having read only "school books" for so long, they don't necessarily realize there ARE books that are as exciting and action-packed as a good movie.

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  9. Book of the month sounds great, I will head over and check it out. Your blog is great!

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  10. Your Book of the Month resource looks great; I'm going to check it out. On a side note, I teach in the same district as Kelly Gallagher so I've had the opportunity to speak with him and hear him speak many times. In fact, last week, 5 of my colleagues and I sat in his classroom for the morning watching him teach and interact with students. Talk about inspiring! Thanks again for sharing!

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  11. I'm a huge advocate for free-choice reading as well! Thank you for sharing!

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  12. You always have great ideas. I'm with you - student reading choice whenever possible.

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  13. This is incredible, and I love that it's graded on both literature AND speaking standards! Exactly what we need! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Lit with Lyns

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  14. Your Book of the Month independent reading resource coupled with your detailed blog post may just solve independent reading woes for ELA teachers everywhere! The attention to all of the details needed to make such a program work is what makes this resource so special. Thanks so much for writing about it!

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  15. I love the chapter organizer too and wish I had known about when we began our first novel this year. That's ok, I can always use it in the future!

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