Congratulations! You’ve gotten a new class or maybe even a new job as an English teacher! Once the initial euphoria settles, the anxiety usually takes its place. What most non-English teachers don’t realize is that ELA teachers often have more grading and even more prep work than other types of teachers.
To tackle this work, we often turn to additional help. This help can take the form of websites, podcasts, books, professional development, and even purchasing lessons online.
I complied this list of helpful ELA resources using my 16 years of teaching experience. However, I also got a lot of help from other ELA teachers with a variety of backgrounds and preps. Go forth, learn much, and be a great teacher!
One of my go-to resources when I need ideas or feedback is to head to Facebook. I rarely visit my main page anymore, and I really only keep Facebook around because of its groups. I am members of several teaching groups and find the feedback and suggestions there more valuable than any other place. Teachers often share resources, ideas, and websites there as well, so it’s a good jumping-off point for solving a problem.
Here are a few ELA teacher Facebook groups I’d recommend:
- Creative High School English – Moderated by Betsy Potash
- AP Literature and Composition – Moderated by Brian Sztabnik
- AP Language and Composition – Moderated by Kristy Seidel
- High School English with Angie Kratzer – Moderated by Angie Kratzer
Tips for Using Facebook Groups
Use the Search Function
When asking questions in a Facebook group, you don’t want to crowd the discussion wall with questions that may have already been answered. Before asking, click on the magnifying glass icon and type some keywords of your question in the box. This may answer your question before you even have to ask it!
Check the Files
Another thing that people may not realize is that a lot of Facebook groups have a tab devoted to files. Many teachers upload free resources that you can use in these files. Just remember proper etiquette, don’t share without giving them credit, and never pass it off as something that you created yourself!
How to Follow
Another thing that is considered “poor etiquette” in Facebook groups is typing “Follow” under a question or post. People do this to get a notification when the question gets answered, but there is another way to get this notification. Click on the dots next to the top of the post and select “Turn on notifications for this post” in the dropdown menu. This way you’ll be alerted when the question is answered, without others getting alerts that you’re simply “following.”
Another burgeoning form of professional development has been teacher podcasts. I’m not a big podcast follower myself (I’m a terrible auditory learner), but there are a few I tune into. Plus, I got some help from others with their suggestions.
The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast with Betsy Potash – This is pretty much the only teacher podcast that I listen to. Betsy keeps things short and to the point and is a wealth of creative and practical ideas for high school English teachers.
The Cult of Pedagogy with Jennifer Gonzalez – This is another podcast that is highly recommended by teachers in general. While it may not be specific to ELA, it does contain many practical and well-researched ideas.
Pearson English Podcast – This is your best bet if you’re looking for a podcast that discusses classroom management and issues of inclusivity and representation within the ELA classroom. This podcast hosts a monthly chat led by industry experts and you will walk away having learned something every time.
Close Reads Podcast – This isn’t a teacher podcast per se, but I love to listen to it when I’m prepping a literature unit. It’s the ultimate literary nerd program: a team of literature lovers dissect and analyze a text using evidence to back up their points. I fell in love with it after listening to their analysis on Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, but they discuss short stories as well as novels.
While there are thousands of websites out there for teachers, you may not know of several subject-specific resources out there. Here are a few websites that ELA teachers (including myself!) frequently visit for ideas.
Poetry 180 – Poetry 180 is a website established by Billy Collins as part of his tenure as Poet Laureate of the United States. Collins has a database of 180 different poems, one for each day of a school year. Collins’ collection is a mix of new and modern voices with a few classics thrown in for fun. I go there frequently when I need a new poem to add to my mix.
LMS Voice Curriculum – Brian Hannon from #teachlivingpoets has created a wonderful database for ELA teachers, specifically for those who need resources in teaching poetry. The LMS Voice database offers dozens of no-prep lessons on poetry, including reading comprehension questions, writing prompts, writing workshop resources, and more.
Journalism Education Association – This website offers a wealth of ideas for those teaching Journalism. Membership to their curriculum database is only $65 a year. I personally use it to help me make sure I’m teaching Journalism accurately and ethically.
Common Sense Media – Teachers have been turning to Common Sense Media for help with book content to help with parent or administrator pushback on “questionable” titles. I like that the website does not just rely on parent reviews, which can often be quite critical, but takes student reviews into account as well. You can also scroll down and see a breakdown on how much violence, language, sex, and other content is in a title. Their database is still pretty limited in selection, if you ask me, but they do add more titles every day.
MyShakespeare – This website is a godsend to anyone who teaches, or struggles to teach, Shakespeare. The website offers interactive full texts of his plays, filled with performances, definitions, historical background, and other contextual information to both explain the text and engage readers. At the least, make it available to your students who must read Shakespeare alone or at home so they have the help they need.
Teachers Pay Teachers – If what you need is saved time, Teacher Pay Teachers offers teacher-created resources for virtually any topic you could need. TpT offers resources ranging from $0-100+ and covering just a lesson or even a full year’s worth of materials.
It’s Lit Teaching – My friend Heather at It’s Lit Teaching has lots of information for new and changing ELA teachers. These include tips on important routines and programs such as independent reading, as well as emphasis on which lessons have to be stellar, versus when you can rely on routine and begin to hit your groove.
Mud and Ink Teaching – Amanda Cardenas at Mud and Ink Teaching has a blog, coaching series, and a podcast all dedicated to helping new and learning ELA teachers. For free ideas check out her blog, or you can see join one of her group or one-on-one coaching groups she offers.
Teach Living Poets – The blog at #teachlivingpoets offers a blend of ideas and free resources for teaching new and emerging modern voices. It’s worth a visit to meet a new author and bring some modern voices into an old or outdated curriculum.
The Secondary English Coffee Shop – The Secondary English Coffee Shop is a group blog run by 8 master ELA teachers. Each has a TpT store, but they offer lots of free ideas and resources as well. Be sure to sign up for their email blast for a weekly dose of inspiration and free resources!
AP Lit and More – I hope it’s not too forward to suggest my own website as well, especially to those teaching AP Lit. While most of my blog posts are dedicated to AP Lit skills, there are still lots of free activities, lesson suggestions, and book recs for any kind of ELA teacher.
TED-Ed – TED-Ed lessons, sponsored by the folks at TED Talk, offer videos that help with skill-specific lessons, particular topics that blend into literature units, and critical thinking activities. These videos are beautifully animated and professionally narrated, plus they save everyone at least 5 minutes’ time in a lesson.
Crash Course Literature with John Green – John Green (as in YA author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars) hosts helpful instructional videos on various novels, literary movements, and poetry genres that can save you full lessons or supplement a particular unit. I love his “thought bubbles,” which are quirky and engaging.
The Garden of English – Timm Freitas’ YouTube channel offers test prep, essay strategies, grading tips, and other resources for AP Lang, AP Lit, and college prep classes. I’ve guest hosted on a few of Tim’s videos and can attest that they’re time-saving, helpful videos!
Books & Professional Development
Penny Kittle – Penny Kittle has emerged as a leading voice in writing instruction, thanks to her co-authored book 180 Days. Kittle has a podcast and website, where she also has several videos and resources available for ELA teachers.
Kelly Gallagher – Kelly Gallagher, who co-authored 180 Days with Penny Kittle, is another leading voice in writing composition. He’s known for Write Like This, a go-to resource on using mentor and model texts in the classroom. Gallagher’s website offers videos and teaching resources for teachers who need it.
Mosaic – The Mosaic conference began during the pandemic as a needed professional development event for AP Lit and Lang teachers. A “slow conference,” this event offers 2-3 videos per week to help AP teachers grow as teachers.
This list could get very long, but here are some of my favorite ELA teacher accounts on Instagram. Most of their accounts are also active on Facebook and Twitter, just in case you don’t have IG. And of course, don’t forget to follow me @aplitandmore!
I hope this list of resources gave you at least one more idea or reference to give you ideas, inspiration, or even saved time as you prepare for your coming school year!