After this, I started using video journals once a week as a writing prompt. Not only do my students love them, but it helps with classroom management and has been an excellent tool for engaging reluctant writers. In the last couple of years I have collected 85 videos (check them out: Volume 1 and Volume 2). Students have even sent me links to videos that they thought would make a good video journal. Another added benefit is that you have student writing samples to refer back to with different lessons. If you are working on organization, word choice, grammar etc. students have a chance to look at their own writing to make improvements.
2. Lively Discussion/Debate
In my experience, middle and high school teachers often start class with instruction (usually in lecture format). To change things up, I like to start one class per week with students in groups for discussion for 5-10 minutes. To avoid the stress of forming groups weekly, I have them keep the same group for 4 weeks, then we switch. I try to choose topics that spark a lot of debate or discussion (Check out my Ethical Dilemma Prompts or What If? Scenarios).
Help students develop their vocabulary by introducing new terms at the start of each week. Along with my literary term bulletin board, I also have a board dedicated to the word of the week. I usually provide an example of a vocabulary word in a paragraph and have students determine the meaning of the word in context. Then, they write their own example of the word in a sentence on a post-it and add it to the bulletin board! You can also encourage students to use the word that week. If you want this to actually happen, candy is a great motivator! (Check out my Words of the Week).