Bright ideas for English teachers

March 13, 2009

Bright sparkOver many years of teaching English, I’ve discovered numerous books that have helped me grow as a teacher. Listed below are some of the more practical – books which are overflowing with good ideas and which have a sound theoretical and/or research basis.

(On another occasion, I’ll list some good ‘theory’ books.)

Anderson, M., Hughes, J. and Manuel, J. (2008). Drama and English teaching: imagination, action and engagement. Sydney: Oxford University Press.

[Want to spice up your English class and do something a bit more interesting (and challenging) than set another worksheet? Then this is the book for you – lots of ideas for using drama to teaching novels, plays, poetry and more. As you’d expect, there’s even advice on teaching the Bard through performance.]

Dean, D. (2008). Bringing grammar to life. Newark: International Reading Association.

[A really interesting practical book on grammar that will appeal to traditionalists as well as those who are more interested in a functional or rhetorical approach.]

Ellery, V. (2005). Creating strategic readers. United States: International Reading Association.

[A balanced approach to reading, this is the book for you if you want ideas how to help teach phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Even better, the activities are designed to be appropriate for different levels of reading competence.]

Fisher, D., Frey, N and Lapp, D. (2009). In a reading state of mind: brain research, teacher modeling and comprehension instruction. Newark: International Reading Association.

[These well respected academics provide practical advice on using think aloud modelling to teach students how to comprehend more effectively. The book even comes with a DVD so that you can see teachers working with students in classrooms. Particularly relevant to Middle School teachers.]

Frangenheim, E. (2006). Reflections on classroom thinking strategies. Loganholme: Rodin Educational Consultancy.

[While this book is meant to be used across the curriculum, English teachers will find many practical ideas to help students develop higher order thinking while undertaking studied of language and literature.]

Ludwig, C. (2000). Why wait? A way into teaching critical literacies in the early years. Queensland: The State of Queensland (Department of Education).

[Fully developed units – with activities and worksheets – that can be used to help students become Text Analysts. This is particularly designed for teachers of early primary classes.]

Poston-Anderson, B. (2008). Drama: learning connections in primary schools. Sydney: Oxford University Press.

[If you are a primary teacher who is interested in using drama to enhance your teaching in all subject areas (not just English), you’ll find a great deal of useful advice in this practical book. It includes plenty of snapshots of the activities being used in real classrooms.]

Williams, L. (2007). Secondary English teaching: a survival manual Volumes 1 and 2. Rochedale South, Queensland: Wordsmart Consulting.

[These books provide over a hundred practical activities to use in the Before, During and After Stages of Reading and Writing. There are also group work strategies, ideas for getting off to a good start with new classes and much more. I know I wrote these books, but they are good!]

Keep an eye out for more suggestions of books that will help you become an even better teacher.