Room 241: A Blog by
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Language Arts

Strategies for Determining Importance in Nonfiction Texts

By Jennifer Gunn September 12, 2018

The skill of determining importance in a nonfiction text is an area in which students of all ages often struggle. For emerging readers, it can require so much attention to merely get through reading a nonfiction text, that it’s easy not to process what the text actually says, much less pull out the important details… Read More

5 Distinctive Reasons to Choose Concordia’s STEAM Concentration

By Sarah Elliott, EdD January 17, 2018

When you whip up a concoction of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math, the results can be utterly powerful. Through STEAM projects, students learn creativity, innovation, practical knowledge, and blue-sky thinking. They seek answers, solve problems, and gain a collection of skills coveted by 21st-century employers. Without question, STEAM is where it’s at. And a… Read More

8 Mistakes to Avoid When Teaching English Abroad

By Kara Wyman, MEd June 21, 2017

Teaching English abroad is a great way to learn more about who you are when you’re outside of your comfort zone. That said, expanding your boundaries in a foreign culture can inevitably lead to blunders that could’ve been prevented if you’d had proper warning. If you want to spend more time learning and appreciating your chosen… Read More

6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Teaching English Abroad

By Kara Wyman, MEd June 13, 2017

Teaching English abroad can be really rewarding, which I can attest to, but it can also be really challenging. You’ve probably considered some of those challenges, but there might be others you haven’t thought of yet. Here are some questions to ask yourself before committing to this type of adventure. 1. Have you taught English… Read More

3 Great Projects to Get Kids Excited About Summer Reading

By Kara Wyman, MEd June 6, 2017

Summer vacation is a much-needed break for staff and students, but encouraging students to continue to read over the break can help their minds stay mentally active. They will also be better prepared when school is back in session. Here are some activities that don’t take too much time but still promote summer reading and… Read More

Each school year is packed with lessons, activities and memorable moments. Encouraging students to reflect on those experiences can help them end the school year strong and give you a chance to fit in one last creative writing assignment that’s purposeful and poignant. Here are four end-of-the-year writing assignments you can try out: Create a… Read More

Many students see the summer break as a time to put off their studies and stop thinking about school for three months. Yet parents and teachers alike know that summer also lets students backslide in their academic development. Summer writing projects offer a chance to slow the slide — letting students dive into  subjects they… Read More

When it’s done well, peer review is extremely instrumental to students, but when it isn’t done well, it’s painful for everyone and possibly detrimental to their papers. Too often, student feedback during the peer review process produces unspecific responses like “it’s good” or, even worse, incorrect grammatical corrections. To get peer review right, teachers need… Read More

Sure, adolescents spend too much time “glued to their screens,” but why not turn that to your advantage — and theirs? Students’ love of technology can be a powerful force in language arts classrooms thanks to the possibilities of digital storytelling. Students’ beloved smartphones can be essential tools for sharing their unique thoughts and experiences… Read More

Visual Rhetoric: Teaching Students to Decode Media Images

By Caitrin Blake April 25, 2017

From a young age, students get inundated with images. From advertisements to political cartoons to the pictures accompanying news stories, images are everywhere. Because images convey meaning just as words do, students need to learn the principles of visual rhetoric. This knowledge helps students better understand visual arguments in the world around them, and it… Read More

How to Show Students that Word Choice Matters

By Kara Wyman, MEd April 18, 2017

It’s easy to mark up students’ papers with circles and write “WC” or “Word Choice” to encourage stronger verbs and adjectives. But how do we get them to see the value in choosing words wisely? Here are some ideas to expand students’ minds and improve their writing: Show the shift in meaning Looking closely at… Read More

5 Novels for Middle School Students that Celebrate Diversity

By Kara Wyman, MEd March 14, 2017

We all want our students to see pieces of themselves in the stories they read. Novels promoting diversity, inclusion, compassion and awareness help students identify with the experiences and perspectives of people who are much like them — but with a few crucial differences. Here are five powerful novels that can help diversify the worldviews… Read More

Recent news articles about fake news and “alternative facts” make it clear that media literacy is an essential skill we should be building in our classrooms. Beyond figuring out what’s real or fake, students need to understand how persuasive language affects their media experience. That starts with helping them develop rhetorical insight on how word… Read More

Beyond ‘Fake or Real’: 5 Quick Lessons in Media Literacy

By Monica Fuglei January 23, 2017

Differentiating between real and fake news is a good first step in arming students to question the media they encounter. The next step in our world of democratized but not always fact-checked digital media is to ensure they have the critical-thinking skills to evaluate what they’re seeing online. Helping students become media literate Media Smarts,… Read More

One challenge for teachers in all disciplines is working with a group that includes reluctant readers and writers along with gifted students. It is difficult to ensure that your curriculum appeals to students at all levels of differentiation and passion. Students at all writing levels benefit from learning to create graphic novels and comics Using… Read More