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English Journal, Vol. 106, No. 3, (January 2017)

ReadWriteThink, created by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the International Literacy Association (ILA), provides free instructional practices and digital resources that support effective reading and language arts instruction for all learners. Most articles in English Journal include connections to ReadWriteThink lesson plans and other resources.


Theme: Reading And Composing Digital Video

Using Short Videos to Enhance Reading and Writing in the ELA Curriculum

This strategy guide from provides tips for using Animoto, the tool described in the article. Using Animoto, students can develop short digital videos that include music, photos, video clips, and text as well as share their creations electronically.

“Standing at the Crossroads”: Content Creation in the 21st-Century English Classroom

The goal of “Making Memories: An End-of- Year Digital Scrapbook” is to strengthen students’ writing skills through image and text correlation. Students use prior knowledge to reflect on the school year. They create a story of their memories using digital images and various digital tools. Images are placed in sequential order and enhanced using descriptive text captions. After the digital scrapbook is complete, classmates edit one another’s work using a checklist. Students present their digital scrapbooks to an audience to reflect on what they have learned and to share their knowledge with the school community.

Telling the Story of America: Digital Storytelling Projects in American Literature

In “Paradox and Dream,” a 1966 essay on the American Dream, John Steinbeck writes, “For Americans too the wide and general dream has a name. It is called ‘the American Way of Life.’ No one can define it or point to any one person or group who lives it, but it is very real nevertheless.” Yet a recent cover of Time Magazine reads, “The History of the American Dream—Is It Real?” In this lesson plan from, students explore the meaning of the American Dream by conducting interviews, sharing and assessing data, and writing papers based on their research to draw their own conclusions.

New Literacies and Digital Video Poems in a Seventh-Grade Classroom

In these contemporary times, our lives are often driven by lists—to-do lists, shopping lists, wish lists. Working in small groups, students brainstorm a list of human emotions such as anger, guilt, and happiness. Then, as a class, they select six to eight emotions from the list. Students then add more specific ideas, words, and phrases that describe and provide examples of each emotion. Next, students read and discuss Raymond Carver’s poem “Fear” as a model for writing their own powerful poetry. Finally, working with one of the emotions listed by the class, each group composes a list poem. These poems, stripped down in the most minimalist fashion, allow students to concentrate on important aspects of poetry, including word choice, phrasing, and rhythm as well as the all-important “heart” of the poem.

Through a New Lens: Students as Primary Researchers

“Blending the Past with Today’s Technology” helps students prepare for reading a historical novel by inviting them to research various aspects of a setting’s decade. Then, using the information they have gathered, students communicate their findings via digital tools and traditional slides. Through the sharing of their presentations, all students gain an understanding of the historical decades of their selected novels.

“Welcome to My House”: Using a New Literacies Stance to Promote Critical Literacies

In this lesson plan from, students will learn persuasive techniques used in advertising, specifically, pathos or emotion, logos or logic, and ethos or credibility/character. They will use this knowledge to analyze advertising in a variety of sources: print, television, and Web-based advertising. Students will also explore the concepts of demographics and marketing for a specific audience. The lesson will culminate in the production of an advertisement in one of several various forms of media, intended for a specific demographic. Particularly powerful in this lesson is “The Art of Rhetoric: Persuasive Techniques in Advertising,” an online video that describes how advertisers use pathos or emotion, logos or logic, and ethos or credibility/character to persuade consumers.

Embracing the Messiness of Research: Documentary Video Composing as Embodied, Critical Media Literacy

In this lesson plan from, students are introduced to the vocabulary of film as they go through the process of creating a short original film. This unit provides instruction on key aspects of digital video filmmaking: plotting, script, storyboarding, camera work (shots, angles), and editing (transitions, title, credits, visual effects, sound effects, etc.). Once students are familiar with the techniques and terms introduced in this lesson, they can
apply their new skills to bring other content areas to life through filmmaking.

Life Moments in Texts: Analyzing Multimodal Memoirs of Preservice Teachers

In this autobiography with a twist, students conduct interviews of friends and family members, as well as online and library research, to find details on what was going on internationally, nationally, and locally in sports, music, arts, commercial, TV, and publishing during the year that they were born. After they’ve gathered their research, they discuss how they will organize their information, typically in chronological order, and then create a rough outline. In small groups, students share and get feedback on their research and outlines. They then refine their outline into a paper that they publish as a newspaper or booklet using an online publishing tool.

Teachers First: Hands-On Professional Development with Digital Writing

“Book Report Alternative: Creating Reading Excitement with Book Trailers” encourages students to share book talks through digital storytelling. First, students plan scripts and then find images to illustrate their scripts. They also add text, narration, and music as well as pan and zoom effects. Finally, the joy of reading is prompted through the sharing of the students’ digital stories. These trailers can be done for fiction as well as informational texts.











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