Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Valentine's Day in ELA: Ideas and Lessons of the Heart


I’ve written blog posts about the importance of setting a good feeling tone in the classroommaking learning fun, and affective learning (find out why it’s the most effective learning of all). So this post goes right along with this idea that you can deliberately advance students’ learning just by making them feel good and comfortable (something some of them don’t even get at home). I mean, think about it. Do you learn better when someone is yelling at you while reminding you of the negative consequences that loom, OR do you learn better when someone is like “Hey, welcome, I want to teach you something so cool! Ready?” ANYWAY, I digress…this post is about Valentine’s Day!

The point is that Valentine’s Day is one more opportunity to focus on the positive and set a good feeling tone while engaging students’ emotions and having fun (THIS IS THE SECRET PEOPLE!). So, here are some ideas for you. And please let me know or link up if you have some great ideas too.


Valentine's Day in English Language Arts blog post


Here are some ideas for Valentine’s Day in ELA:

1) Express love or appreciation in an Ode: According to the dictionary, an “ode” is “a lyric poem in the form of an address to a particular subject, often elevated in style or manner and written in varied or irregular meter – a poem meant to be sung.”

And, according to poets.org, an ode was “originally accompanied by music and dance, and later reserved by the Romantic poets to convey their strongest sentiments—is a formal address to an event, a person, or a thing not present.” Wow, who knew? (I didn’t.)

I recommend keeping it simple and just having students write freely with a simple abab or abca rhyme scheme…but I also found this great lesson online that looks very helpful for both teachers and students writing odes.

So, have students brainstorm all the things and/or people and pets they love and appreciate. Ask some leading questions, such as What’s your favorite thing to do after school? or What food or drinks do you LOVE? or Who do you love like a sister? or Who shows you love?

2) Shower with Compliments: I got this idea from “The Cult of Pedagogy,” a TPT seller who has inspired me. She says students take turns of about 10-15 minutes each being in the “hot seat” while their classmates write compliments on the board behind them. She says you have to see it to appreciate its full impact. What a great idea. I’m thinking the teacher needs a turn too!

3) Sticky Note Love: I have a friend (a mother of 5) who covers her kids’ doors with sticky notes that show what she loves about that kid – on or around Valentine’s Day (or maybe it’s birthdays…). Anyway, I’m sure this can somehow be incorporated into Language Arts. For example, instruct students to write 10 adjectives (one word each) to express what they love about a person, thing, whatever…

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4) Idioms about the heart and love: My heart really goes out to you…especially if you have teenagers acting head over heels in love or who have just gotten their hearts broken…One of my blog posts lists 20 idioms about love and the heart. It gets students thinking why the heart is associated with love anyway. These are fun to read, to incorporate into writing, or to research their origins.

valentine's day idioms about love and the heart blog header

5) ELA Science Fusion “Your Cardiovascular System” (Mini-Unit or Lite version text only): Relevant, interesting, engaging scientific and technical informational text and literacy in science activities for English Language Arts or science class or both. Thoroughly researched, highly visual, creative and fun ELA connections, extension activities, vocabulary building, a song to sing along to (a song I LOVED as a kid whenever teachers would show us the video), fascinating informational text all about how our circulatory system works.

ELA Science Fusion Unit Cardiovascular System

free informational text cardiovascular system

6) The History of Valentine’s Day: As simple of a concept that Valentine’s Day is, it turns out the history is ancient, not fully documented (and full of hearsay), yet is quite interesting (like how greeting cards came about) and even contends that Valentine’s Day was meant to replace a festival we would call “inappropriate” these days. I wrote the text for grades 6 and up to explore these concepts. They’re not really well suited to younger elementary kids.

You know what else students LOVE? So, that’s why I created these high-interest informational texts and tasks. I went out of my way to make the articles super interesting to middle schoolers by writing about things that interest them. And, guess what? It worked. I keep hearing from teachers how kids get so into these passages. They actually want to answer the questions. They even want to discuss the articles as a group. 

workbook cover informational texts and tasks volume 1

Volume I was so popular with students in grades 6-8 that I just HAD to create Volume II. Kids love them both!

cover workbook informational texts and tasks volume 2


cover workbook 4th grade informational texts and tasks


cover workbook 5th grade informational texts and tasks
Check out these GRADE-SPECIFIC test prep books with practice tests that target EVERY GRADE-SPECIFIC READING INFORMATIONAL TEXT STANDARD, one by one. An added bonus is that students LOVE the texts! In Easy-Print or Self-Grading Online Versions.
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6th Grade

7th grade workbook informational text passages and practice tests

7th Grade

8th grade workbook informational text passages and practice tests

8th Grade

9th grade ela workbook high-interest informational texts and practice tests like SBAC and PARCC

9th Grade Coming March 2021

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Valentine's Day in English Language Arts blog post

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