Back to School Contest

For the first time ever, I am having a contest. It is my hope to help one of the English teachers who reads this blog get a bit of a jump start on the school year.

What do you have to do? Share a lesson plan in the comments.


  • Your lesson must be appropriate for grades 9-12 English or easily adaptable for that level.
  • Lesson ideas must be your own original ideas rather than ideas published elsewhere on the Web or in print UNLESS you have sufficiently remixed the idea so that is substantially different from the source material.
  • If you have a handout that’s important, you should upload it to an online filesharing host such as Slideshare,, or Scribd, or you can upload it to your own website if you have one. You must share the link to the handout in your comment.
  • You can enter only once.
  • You must be willing to share your lesson with all my readers; therefore, access to any additional resources should not be password-protected and must be accessible at the time of judging.
  • The contest will run until August 10 midnight Eastern Daylight Time.
  • Lessons can be grammar, writing, or literature or combine all three. Lessons can incorporate technology. If Web 2.0 tools are needed, please link to them.
  • You must use a valid e-mail address when you post. It will not appear on this site.


I will select one winner from the entrants who will receive a flash drive with a ton of my personal handouts for the various English courses I teach including quizzes, assignment instructions, writing assignments, questions, and more. I will notify the winner via e-mail and update this post after the winner has been notified.

Your comment may go into moderation if it has several links or if you’ve not commented here before. Please be patient as I post it. Feel free to contact me with questions.

Good luck everyone!

“It’s a Major Award!” image credit: Cyndie@smilebig!

13 thoughts on “Back to School Contest”

  1. I'm not sure if this is what you are looking for, but here's a link to my Macbeth unit from last year.

    It involves creating a Facebook Newsfeed in place of a reading journal to help students keep track of what's happening. It also goes on to have students create a profile for a major character (apps, fun stuff and all) to transition into writing a character analysis.

    It is easily adaptable to any work. The necessary explanation and handouts are in the first 2 paragraphs only. What follows is a rough explanation of the unit I attempted.

    I will be watching this post to see all the great ideas that will be shared! Thanks for creating this! 🙂

  2. This is a pre-reading activity for Lord of the Flies.

    I split the class into two large groups. You could leave them as one group easily. The bigger the group(s) the better this works.

    Explain to students that they need to create a new class for your high school to offer. They need to decide who will teach it, how many credits it is worth, what kind of credits students will receive (math, English, etc), what sort of material the class will cover, and any other sort of details you can think to add. Some examples that my students came up with were: a class on Harry Potter, a Pokemon class, a Ninja class, etc. They can be as silly as they want. The class is not the point of the lesson.

    Do NOT give them any rules/tips/suggestions on how to problem solve and work together as a big group. Do NOT intervene if you see someone taking control and ignoring others' opinions. This is what it is all about. You simply observe.

    Give them about 25 minutes to work on this.

    After they share their class they created with the other group (if there was one) then it is time to have them look at how they functioned as a group without an adult. Questions you might ask them:

    1. Did someone take charge? How was this person chosen? Did they just assume that role of leadership? Did someone else nominate them for that position?

    2. How did you decide on the class? Did everyone agree with the class? Were some people outvoted?

    3. Did everyone put forth ideas? Was everyone's ideas heard?

    4. Did you feel ignored at any point?

    5. How were disagreements solved?

    6. If you had to make a decision for the group, how did you feel making this decision?

    7. If you didn't participate in sharing ideas for the class, why not?

    The key here is to look at how a group functions without any assigned leader or adult figure. It might even work if you leave the room for the 25 minutes they are working (if you can do this).

    I had one group that they took more than twenty minutes choosing what class they were going to create because they had two really strong leaders (Ralph/Piggy and Jack) and they couldn't come to an agreement. It was PERFECT.

  3. Hello Everyone,

    I just completed a pre-reading research lesson for my 11th grade English class for The Crucible. I am hoping to help them connect what happened in The Salem Witch Trials with McCarthyism. They always struggle with this. I used Jamie McKenzie's "Slam Dunk" lesson format I learned at NECC this summer. I am hoping to collaborate with several other classes using Google Apps, edmodo, and VoiceThread (need to add that to final product choices) Here is a link to my blog Post. the link to the lesson is on the blog. Feel free to use or adjust the lesson as you wish.

  4. The 45 Minute Film

    Lesson: Making a film in 45 minutes.

    David Chapman

    Avondale School

    Attempting to create a text will often help students in later analysis of texts of the same mode. In

    simple English – if students make a film, they will have greater appreciation and understanding of

    the technicalities involved with film making and effort and creativity required.

    Course: Secondary English (Suits Years 7-10)

    Learning Objectives: To increase understanding of the film making process. This will be

    accomplished by students shooting a complete film in one period, with no editing allowed.

    Teaching and Learning:

    Period 1 – Introduce students to film script formats. Use Celtx (download for free at

    Use the sample scripts included to talk through the different parts of a film script (scene heading,

    action, character and dialogue). Have students brainstorm and then experiment with writing their

    own script.

    Period 2 – Explain to students that they will be making a 3-5 minute film in one period. This

    requires complete planning of the script, props, locations and casting. Allow students adequate

    time to fully prepare.

    Period 3 – Filming. Students will shoot their film in one period. They should use their camera and

    their script to complete their film. Rules are:

    1. No editing other than within the camera during the period.

    2. Scenes must obviously be shot in order.

    3. The entire film must be shot within the period, and during the chosen period.

    4. The completed film must be handed to the teacher by the end of the period.

    Period 4 – View and critique films. Ask students to write a reflection on their filmmaking process.

    What worked well? What did not? What would they do different? Use the reflections as a basis

    for class discussion about the entire process. How valuable was the script? What shots worked

    well in creating meaning? What problems were encountered?

    Resources: Access to computers for one period, Celtx, video cameras.

  5. Here is a lesson I developed for "We Real Cool" for my 2 week individuality unit for my American Lit. class: This will be my second year teaching, and this website was my saving grace last year! Thanks for this opportunity. There are so many wonderful ideas here!!!!

  6. This is a prereading activity for The Great Gatsby. I like to do it before the students even know what book we are reading. It gets them thinking about some of the main themes from the book and helps them to clarify their own position on several key moral issues. What is interesting later is seeing how they change those positions as they read the book. My classroom is full of laptops and my students are all online, but for this we leave the computers in the cart and write with pens and paper, and they love it.

    Students sit in circles of 6-7 students each. Each group gets a set of the questions. The questions are printed one to a page with lots of space underneath. The groups distribute the questions so that each student has one. Each student writes an answer to the question he or she starts with for about 3 minutes. (I'm a control freak. I time them.) Then the students in each group rotate questions and write a response to the next one they get. Eventually each student in the group has written a response to each question. (I didn't invent this technique, but I don't know the name for it.) I try to do it several times a year for different units. By the time we get to Gatsby I like to see students responding to each other's comments and not just writing their own answer.

    When they have all written about all the questions I ask them to choose one they would like to discuss as a group. Predictably, they often end up arguing about #1 the most. Then, as a class, we review the questions and for each question I ask a different group to share something one of them wrote about it.

    Later, I post larger versions of each question on the wall with all the group responses to that question underneath. I use a poll on my blog to repeat some of the questions and get easy percentages for their answers. Then I post those too.

    The question we revisit the most is #5 about cheating. Initially almost all my students say it would be wrong, but half way through the book many of them want Daisy to end up with Gatsby. We journal of course about why and how our minds were changed.

    1. Which is more important, love or money? Explain why.

    2. Do you think you would continue to love someone if you found out that person had lied to you about their past?

    3. Do rich people have a responsibility to the rest of society?

    4. How much money would you need to be rich?

    5. If your boyfriend or girlfriend cheats on you is it alright for you to cheat on them?

    6. Have you ever wanted something that you could not have? Explain.

    7. How do rich people get rich? (I drop this question if there are only 6 per group.)

  7. Here is an activity that I use while reading Jose Saramago's Blindness, although the short story by H.G. Wells could be read on its own or as part of another unit.

    "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."

    Answer this first, BEFORE reading the short story.

    1. What does the quote above mean to you? Imagine you are the only sighted person in a place full of blind people. How would you behave? What would you do?

    Now read the story by H.G. Wells. Have patience – it starts a bit slow (written in 1904) but it gets better and you will definitely have something to say about it by the end.

    2. Was this story surprising to you? Did events take place in the way that you expected? Did the characters behave in ways that you expected?

    3. How does this story make you re-evaluate sight and different ways of seeing?

    4. What is the message of the story? (Moral? Theme?)

    This assignment always prompts LOTS of discussion amongst my students — the Wells story turns their expectations upside down and really makes them think. Great story!

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