Let’s start planning for the new year with these fun and easy back-to-school ideas for middle school ELA.
Middle school is an interesting beast when it comes to back-to-school time. First of all, you have a lot of new students. Unlike elementary teachers with the same 20 or 30 students for the whole year, a middle school teacher may have 100-200 new students.
As we plan for all of these students, we want to have activities ready to go that are easy to set up and don’t require students to transition too much between activities.
I love digital escape rooms for precisely this reason.
Digital Escape Rooms
Digital escape rooms require no prep; students can work on it alone or with assigned groups or partners making them some of the perfect back-to-school ideas for middle school ela.
Even better, these digital escape rooms are focused on reading skills and, therefore, also work as a formative assessment!
Digital escape rooms are fun and cooperative, and they are also a challenge. Still, if you’re looking for a good individual activity for students to do at the beginning of the school year, you may want to consider spending some time with paired passages.
The many ways you can use paired passages are why I like these for back-to-school time.
Paired passages can be used to start discussions, as the basis of a writing prompt or opinion-based writing assignment, or they can be used as an activity for students to work on while you take attendance and work in small groups with other students.
Suppose you are learning the names of 100+ students. In that case, you may like the extra time to speak one-on-one or in small groups, and these paired passage sets and their corresponding questions will keep your other students focused and working on their reading skills so that you can have some of these one-on-one or small group conversations.
Paired passages are also some of those all-powerful assessment-based activities that you can use to measure where your students are at on specific skills!
Book Read Aloud
I love love love a good book read aloud at the beginning of the year. Pick one of your classroom texts and get started reading a little bit of it aloud each day for the first couple weeks of school. If you choose the right book, your students will enjoy hearing the story.
I like to read the text and narration and assign students (or ask for volunteers) to read the character dialogue.
This book read-aloud gives us a solid start to the year. For some of your students, this may be the first chapter book that they’ve ever actually read all the way through. Setting expectations for reading and showing students that reading can be fun is important!
Doing a book read-aloud also gives every person in the class a story or book they can refer back to when giving examples or talking about other reading or writing skills. By simply reading one book out loud at the beginning of the year, you are creating a common base on which you can build the rest of the year.
As you plan for the fall, hopefully, you’ll find some fun and easy, standards-based activities to engage your students and get everyone started on the right foot!
Here’s to learning all those names as soon as possible!