Wondering what to teach in April? This post is full of ideas to keep your students engaged and you organized! Let’s dive right in!
Preview the month
Here is a list of interesting and important events that are happening in April. You’ll want to put them on your calendar!
- April is Black Women’s History Month
- It is also National Kite Month (this website has cool information under the “teacher” tab)
- April is National Poetry Month
- National Library Week is the second week of the month
- The last week of the month is Screen-Free Week
- April 1 is April Fool’s Day (you can find a fun informational text reading & writing activity here)
- D.E.A.R (drop everything and read) Day is April 12
- Scrabble Day is April 13
- April 18 & the last Thursday of the month are “Poem in your pocket” Day
- Earth Day is April 22
- April 25 is World Penguin Day
Whether you are preparing your students for testing or not, journal prompts are a great way to keep your students practicing their writing skills.
Once you’ve taught writing or grammar concept – or your students are ready for , add that in to the journal prompts. For example:
- if you’ve taught sentence structure, have students add a complex sentence to their journal writing. Have them underline the sentence and then share with a classmate. Students can write out their sentences on an exit card to provide you with a quick formative assessment.
- challenge students to incorporate one or two vocabulary words in their journals.
Don’t for get to use the holidays this month as journal prompts. Get students writing argument or persuasive pieces by simply asking is “Screen-free Week” a good idea?
?If your students love quirky monthly holidays, use them for journal prompts! Here’s a daily April digital journal that you share with your students or project on your screen.
If your students have been using writing journals, they should have many entries by this time of year.
Teach writing skills in April by trying this:
Have your students take a look through their journals and pick something they’ve written that they’d like to return to. Allow students to practice their writing skills by expanding that entry into an essay.
Want to know the best part of this? By allowing your students to pick their own topic to expand, they will be using all of their writing tools: from organization, paragraph structure, expanding ideas, to sentence structure and adding detail.
It’s taking the training wheels off! By this time in the school year, your students have been writing enough to experiment with this.
You might be wondering: What if this doesn’t work? What if my students need more scaffolding? That’s okay, too. You and your students will learn a lot from this activity. And you might be surprised at the growth your students have gained!
One more writing option: Poetry! Perhaps (like me) you love teaching poetry all year (yay!). Since April is National Poetry Month, try to squeeze in a little poetry writing. You can even use a 30 Day Poetry Challenge as a warm up.
Keep literary analysis going by having your students read poetry. Short poems are great for engaging students in critical thinking. Here is a great list of 12 Poems and ideas for teaching them.
Quick tips for analyzing poetry:
- provide a copy of the poem to your students (if students have a resource book, have them glue it into their notebook for annotating practice)
- read the poem aloud to your students — have them just listen
- read the poem aloud again to your students — this time, have them mark (in pencil) what they notice about the poem and what they LIKE
- ask students to share what they noticed and what they like.
What is great about this exercise: students will be able to understand more than they think they will! By asking students what they like about the poem encourages them to appreciate the poem — even if they think they don’t understand it!
How often do we love a painting or photo — we love it even though we might not understand WHY. I share this analogy with my students. We can all LOVE a poem without understanding every tiny thing about it! (stepping off poetry soapbox now!!)
If you need more help teaching poetry, you’ll want to check out this ultimate guide to teaching poetry to help you get started.
Need more ideas? Keep your students reading — even though the year is drawing toward the end.
Hold a reading “sprint” for the month. Challenge your students to read a book a week this month. You can choose a theme or genre for the month, or make it simple: Just Read! If there is a way you can incorporate a few minutes each day for free reading, grab the opportunity!
Can you snag a beanbag chair or comfy pillows that are used only for reading time? Give your students an incentive to read — even simple ones!
It’s not too late: If you haven’t had a chance to try book clubs, there’s still time! Keep your plans simple and use mini lessons to help guide your daily teaching.
Speaking & Listening
This time of year, lots of us are teaching argument and persuasive writing. If you’re in that camp, why not offer your students the opportunity to convert their writing into a speech.
To help students get to the heart of their argument and make their point as succinctly as possible, consider asking them to give an elevator speech.
What’s an elevator speech? In business, it’s a short speech in which you introduce yourself and your strengths to someone in 30 seconds (an elevator ride). It can be any pitch, really — whether you’re pitching yourself or an idea. It just needs to be short and powerful.
Teach these skill in April by doing this:
Have your students give an elevator speech for anything. It could be for an argument or persuasive essay they’ve worked on, but it could also be on a book, a class to take, a club to join, an item to include in the lunchroom…
Why is works: students will need to get to their strongest arguments and cut out the extraneous “fluff.”
One more idea: Host a Teach In! You can read all about how to do this in this post. Perfect for Earth Day!
Verbals. Are they on your list of standards to teach? They are challenging!
I feel like I’ve taught them every single way… but when teaching difficult grammar concepts, I always go back to “why?”
We want our students to intentionally manipulate language to create a particular effect — right? So rather than teaching verbals (or any grammar concept) in isolation, provide an opportunity for students to incorporate that grammar concept into writing.
Try this: For a warm up, ask students to write a paragraph incorporating a verbal — then pair and share. Can they combine their two sentences to create a paragraph that makes sense??
Still need to squeeze some research into the school year?
Teach research skills in April with a “teach in.”
Perfect for Earth Day — and an easy way to get students to conduct a short research project about a topic they are interested in.
Need more help for what you’ll teach in April? I have lessons that you can use today in my shop!
Ready to start thinking and planning for next month? You can find ideas for what to teach in May here!
Have a wonderful month!