The Great Gilly Hopkins lesson plans

Want to hear some good news?  This post has a free The Great Gilly Hopkins lesson plans preview lessons for you to download!  In my classroom, I offer The Great Gilly Hopkins as a choice for literature circles, but this book will also work perfectly as a class read or as an individual novel study.  

It is often hard to incorporate Common Core standards into activities students are completing on their own or in a small group.    One of the activities that students enjoy with this novel is completed after reading chapter four.  In this chapter, Gilly receives a letter from her mom.    I have each member of the Gilly lit circle group reply to this letter by taking on the persona of Gilly herself.  This requires the students to really understand her inner thoughts and feelings and conflicts. After the students in the literature circle have all written their own “Gilly letter”, I have them swap letters and then respond to Gilly from mom!  Both activities require my students to delve back into the chapter and revisit the text.  This is the kind of activity that is included in our The Great Gilly Hopkins lesson plans packet.

Click the link below to print the instructions for this activity and print some other free handouts as well from our Gilly Hopkins Teaching Unit.

Print FREE lessons and handouts for the novel The Great Gilly Hopkins.


The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street Common Core Activities

“The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” is one of the best teleplays to read with middle school students!  We use The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street Common Core activities while reading this play, but we have a little fun as well!

Before students even know anything about the story, odd things begin to happen in our classrooms.  For instance, in my room, my class phone rings several times, but noone is ever there.  My timer goes off by itself, and so does my cell phone alarm.  Just as the kids are starting to wonder what in the world is going on, I announce, “I’m sure it’s nothing.  We don’t have time to waste.  We are going to read a play today.”  They forget all about the strange happenings as they eagerly shout out which part they want to read.  It’s only once things start eerily going wrong on Maple Street that they remember the peculiar things happening in our own room!

Take a look at our sample packet to view our detailed table of contents and print a prereading activity FREE!

Before reading, students complete some prereading activities including an anticipation guide and a vocabulary preview handout.  We then assign parts and have fun reading with expression.  After reading, we are ready to dig into some The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street Common Core based activities.  We take a look at how the setting affects the plot and examine the theme of the story.  In addition, students answer a set of questions in which they must return to the text, analyze different elements, and support their answers from the text. When we are finished, we watch the teleplay, which can be found in the Twilight series on Netflix!


COMMON Sense with CORE Standards: Including Informational Text in Our Literature Based Classroom

Common Core…It seemed like a looming monster, yet it has arrived in full force, at least for most of us. And now that it is here, let’s tackle it head on! If it overwhelms us, let’s step back and breathe and do what we as teachers do best…monitor and adjust.

One of the greatest complaints from English teachers is most likely the fact that so much emphasis is placed on informational text. “What about our novels and stories?” we whine. Luckily, as seventh grade teachers, 50% of our text should still be literary. Some high school English teachers only have a 30% space to fill with fiction.

Really, it is all a game of intertwinement.

We must pull in informational text with our current literature, and who says it can’t be fun? Last year, just like always, we read “Three Skeleton Key” by George G. Toudouze in our literature books. In this chilling narrative, sea rats overtake a lighthouse and trap three men inside. After finishing this short story, my colleague Tammy and I decided to create a common core unit on rats. We searched for several articles about rats from books and the Internet. For example, we read a chapter titled “Yummy Rats” from Oh Rats! The Story of Rats and People by Albert Marrin. This chapter explained how people in other countries eat rats! Some of our students were completely grossed out, but we had their attention. After taking notes on these articles and viewing short videos from YouTube, students answered constructed response questions which required them to support their answers with text. At the end of the unit, our students compiled their information and wrote an essay taking the stance that either rats are good and helpful to our world or hideous and disgusting creatures.

Information (and Informational Text) is Everywhere

Here is another example of matching nonfiction with literature. We begin our year reading the unforgettable novel The Man Who Loved Clowns by June Rae Wood. In this book, one of the main characters has Down syndrome. This provides an avenue for us to include informational text on Down syndrome, chromosomes, and even the Special Olympics. However, we don’t stop there. The book is set in the early eighties, which opens up another area of research. At one point in the book, two characters salute the American flag as the television shows signs off the air at midnight. Some of our students have no idea that once upon a time there were no cell phones much less the fact that you couldn’t just wake up at 2:00 in the morning and watch television. What an opportunity to pull in some history that may actually intrigue them! Thus, we include research of this decade — again with articles and constructed response questions.

So before we panic about what type of informational texts we are going to include, we just need to take a look at what we already teach and seek ideas there!