Summer is so close now most of us can taste it. The air smells different. Books and beaches are calling, though I know you are keeping things creative and engaging up to the last moment! I know from the great things I’m hearing over in Creative High School English, that you are probably mulling a lot of things about next year in the back of your mind as you wrap up this year. It’s only natural in a time of transition.
Obviously the summer is a great time to unplug and recharge your batteries. But if you’re like me, you usually have a project or two you will really enjoy doing in between all the rest and relaxation. And you’ll probably like the feeling that you are investing in next year’s happiness and success even as you enjoy your time off.
I spend my summers on a tiny lake in Minnesota, going with my family to the one good restaurant in town, The Lazy Moose, and then listening to the loons as I go to bed. It’s a time for paddle boarding, sunsets, and lots and lots of family games and books. But almost every day I go for a rollerblade. And almost every day, I listen to a podcast or a book. It makes me so happy!
In case you, too, enjoy a bit of friendly chat in your ears as you do some of your summer activities, I want to recommend my favorite ten podcasts I have done this year to you. With topics like helping you start a reading program, getting going with genius hour, and teaching your students how to blog, each of these episodes offers some significant contribution to next year’s success for you.
You can listen to them right here all summer by bookmarking this post now, or you can subscribe on your favorite platform and then choose to download these episodes so you’ve got them in your phone.
Episode #3: Creating a Free Choice Reading Program
I chose this as one of my first topics on the podcast because it is so important to me. If you don’t have a free choice reading program, please listen. Having a program like this will help your students fall in love with reading, make it easier for you to teach them other things, and build your relationships with them.
Episode #4: Using Theater in the ELA Classroom
If you wish you could find more ways to incorporate theater in your classroom, regardless of your curriculum, check out this fun episode. It’s easy to find moments for drama throughout the year once you know how to get started.
Episode #7: Poetry Slam
Ready to host a successful poetry slam? I’ve done more than a dozen successful poetry slams with my students, and every one has been a gift. If you haven’t tried this fun strategy for hooking students on poetry yet, give this episode a listen!
Episode #13: Creative First Day Activities
If you’re already anticipating those first week jitters, be sure to download this one. In it I’ll share a number of great ways to start off the year besides the dreaded “going over the syllabus.” Doing creative, interactive activities on the first day will help you set the tone for the year you are dreaming of.
Episode #20: Giving Students Authentic Audiences
This is a great all-purpose episode for helping you think about how you can expand who looks at your students’ work and why. For many students, writing/acting/designing just for you is not enough, so give this one a listen and get started thinking about how you can bring this simple change into your curriculum.
Episode #24: A Beginner’s Guide to Student Blogging
Ready to empower students with a writing unit that gives them freedom to pursue their passions in blog form? I once taught a student blogging elective, and this year I designed a brand new complete blogging unit curriculum teachers are loving. I’ve got good strategies and tips to share with you about how to get going with student blogging when you listen to this episode.
Episode #30: The Simplest Method for One-Pager Success
One-pagers are all the rage! Yet it’s easy to hesitate, worrying that students won’t like the artistic component. In this episode, I share one simple switch you can make so that all students can enjoy and succeed with this easy and super-engaging strategy.
Episode #31: 3 Lessons You’ll Love (Ted Talks, Murder Mysteries, and SNL Clips)
I love what my special guest, Amanda from Engaging and Effective Teaching, brings to the table in this episode. All three of these fabulous lesson ideas are seriously engaging. And seriously effective. This is one of the most popular episodes of the year, and it’s going to give you three back-pocket options you can use anytime throughout the year.
#33: Get Started with Genius Hour Now
I heart genius hour. Seriously, I cannot think of a single classroom anywhere, with any level of students, that I don’t think should try it. It’s a great option and there are a million different ways to structure it to make it work for you. Check out this episode to get started figuring out just how to use it next year.
#35: Using Book Clubs Successfully
This episode, with Melissa Kruse from The Reading and Writing Haven, will get you started with a monthly book club in which students make their own free choice selections based on a genre you select. Melissa lays out her creative format clearly and it’s so doable. If you’re looking for a more structured approach to free choice reading, you’ll want to listen to this episode.
And that’s a wrap! I realize you’ve now looked at this picture of me a lot of times (yep, can’t figure out how to embed the podcast without it!), but hopefully all that peaceful Pennsylvania farm country behind me will help you relax as you soak in these great options for next year. I sincerely hope you enjoy a little podcast time this summer, and that it helps you feel excited for next year in those moments squeezed in with the serious pursuit of relaxation.
Got an idea for a podcast? Or a question you’d like me to answer in one? Send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org! I’d love to help.
Do you find your inspiration in VISUALS? I love ‘em too. Let’s hang out on Instagram! Click here to get a steady stream of colorful ideas all week long.