We get it: It’s only February. But for many educators like you, now’s the time to start planning for the upcoming school year. You know it's better to have a firm idea of your teaching plans well ahead of time, or else you may be scrambling at the last minute to pull something together. Throw the ongoing pandemic into the mix, and things could get even more complicated. 

Whether you’re sticking to your current English language arts curriculum or are looking to shake things up, consider taking these five teaching trends into account when planning for the 2022-23 school year. 

1. Rethinking Vocabulary Instruction Strategies

With so many other skills like reading, writing, and grammar taking priority in the classroom, vocabulary often becomes an afterthought. But forgoing vocabulary instruction is doing students a disservice. From analyzing literature to crafting effective essays, having strong vocabulary skills helps students succeed in every area of language arts.

If instruction time is limited, try incorporating vocabulary lessons into your curriculum on a smaller scale. Short practice activities, no more than 15 to 20 minutes long, are the perfect way to introduce students to new vocabulary words without overwhelming them. Relating vocabulary to concepts you’re already teaching is also effective; for instance, examining words from the texts in your literature units reinforces students’ understanding of language usage while building their vocabulary. 

2. Introducing Project-Based Learning to Literature Units

Getting students interested in literature, particularly older texts, can sometimes be challenging. A lot of times, you’ll hear excuses like “Why does this book even matter?” and “It’s not like I’m ever going to use this outside of school.” Project-based learning—a method of instruction that has students explore content by solving real-world problems—can be a game-changer if you’re looking to confront those sentiments. 

In your literature unit, you can use project-based learning to deeply explore a book’s central themes or subject matter. For instance, when reading Macbeth, students might set out to answer questions about the corrupting nature of power. Their projects can vary in scope and format, from multimedia presentations on historical figures and events to written analyses comparing Macbeth to other literary characters. Not only does project-based learning highlight a book’s relevancy, it also motivates students to tap into their creativity and flex their critical thinking skills. 

3. Promoting Inclusive Reading Choices

The need for inclusivity in the classroom can’t be overstated, especially when it comes to literature. All students deserve to read stories that feature diverse characters and plots, whether those books are part of the curriculum or independent reading options. After all, representation in literature goes a long way. Seeing characters that are like themselves presented positively in books lets students know their identities are valued. Books that feature experiences unlike their own give students a peek at the world from someone else’s perspective. 

Sites like Diverse Book Finder and We Need Diverse Books regularly showcase new and noteworthy books that better reflect the experiences of today’s readers. You can also browse the Discovering Literature collection right here at Prestwick House to find many books perfect for building an inclusive classroom library.

4. Supporting Basic Writing Skills

Picture this: The school year starts, and students arrive to class. You assign them a writing activity, only to discover that their grammar skills aren’t exactly up to standards. Sound familiar? 

To avoid any frustration at the beginning of the school year, anticipate having to review basic writing and grammar skills before starting any grade-level content. This doesn’t mean reteaching entire units, but rather assessing students’ current skills and pinpointing specific areas for improvement. Programs like Grammar for Writing and Maximum Impact provide targeted lessons on sentence construction, punctuation, parts of speech, and other concepts. 

5. Using Technology Inside and Outside the ELA Classroom

Even before the pandemic, technology use in the classroom was commonplace. Now, as schools continue to shift between in-person, remote, and hybrid instruction, more educators are seeing the value of technology-driven instruction, especially online learning programs. These platforms often make it easy for teachers to distribute class material, facilitate discussions, and keep track of student work. 

Online learning platforms can help bridge the gap between in-person and remote instruction, as many programs can be accessed on devices at school and at home. For example, browser-based programs like Vocabulary Power Plus Online don’t require any additional software to work. All students need is an internet connection. (That being said, it’s important to keep in mind that internet access may be limited for some students. Alternative methods of instruction should be considered for special circumstances.)

Planning Your Best Year Yet

If you have questions when mapping next year’s lesson plans or need resource recommendations, give our curriculum specialists a shout! With years of experience in English language arts instruction, we’re happy to help you meet your teaching goals. Contact us at info@prestwickhouse.com to get started.