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English reference booklets have been a game-changer for me. Answering the same question over and over is a struggle that most middle and high school ELA teachers face. I can’t tell you the number of times in my career that I have had to define metaphor, explain the basic essay format, or help students understand theme (and the list goes on and on).
I wanted my students to retain what I had taught them, yet I seemed to constantly be spoon-feeding them the answers to questions that they should have been able to answer themselves. In order to foster more student independence and to stop the flow of repeated questions always coming my way, I decided to use handbooks for MLA formatting, Figurative Language, Essays, Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction, and Speeches.
When we start a new unit or topic, I hand out the English reference booklets to my students. I laminate a copy of each and put it on my bookshelf so it can easily be accessed. Then, when we study a particular genre, I would print a black and white booklet for each student to have as a reference.
During a unit when students inevitably begin asking me questions like, “What is onomatopoeia again?”, “What are the four types of conflict?”, or “What is a soliloquy?” I simply direct them to their handbook for the answer. I will admit that by using these booklets, you will initially have to say the phrase, “Check your handbook” about a hundred times a day. If you keep up with it, however, students will eventually start to rely on themselves rather than on you.
Here are a few reasons why I love using English reference booklets:
If you’d like to try one of the booklets out for FREE, you can download the MLA Formatting Handbook (8th Ed.) by clicking here.
I hope you found this useful. If you want more practical suggestions and resources for teaching ELA skills and standards, click here.
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