January 2016

Middle School ELA News is brought to you by FCS Teaching & Learning. If you find a great ELA resource, please share it with Robin Elmore, so we can highlight it here for all teachers. is a new district resource available to all FCS teachers. This user-friendly platform includes lesson plans, supplemental resources, videos, and information to help teachers build units around anchor texts. Please take time to explore this resource for the books you currently teach as well as books you are interested in adding to your curriculum in the future.

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New Digital Content for ELA Teachers from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Our district has purchased new digital content from HMH, our current textbook company for ELA. Take a look at your grade level resource course in itslearning. At the bottom of the course tree you will see a new folder titled “HMH Content.” This folder contains digital content in the form of literary selections, informational articles, activities, and interactive tutorials that can be copied into your resource course. The “Table of Contents” will provide you with an overview of the content and allows you to click on links to see a particular item. You can also explore the content by navigating through the folders. You will find that much of this content is similar to what you are already using in our online textbook but in a new digital format, which will be much easier for you to use when creating lessons, assignments, and activities in itslearning. You will also see some new selections, activities, and interactive lessons. Please feel free to begin exploring.

Developing Research Questions

Setting students up for success with research assignments is challenging. A student who does not select a good topic for research and develop an effective guiding question will often struggle throughout the research process. Students need help and guidance with this skill. Walking students through the following strategy and providing feedback along the way can help students learn to think through the selection of a research topic.

How To Develop a Research Question:

  1. Choose an interesting topic about which you would like to know more.
  2. Do some preliminary research on your topic to narrow your focus. Make a list: What questions does your research raise?
  3. Start asking open-ended questions, like “why” and “how” about your topic and add them to your list.
  4. Review your list of questions, looking for possible ideas for a strong question that you will conduct further research to answer.
  5. Remember to consider your audience and keep them in mind when developing the question. Ask yourself: Would my audience be interested in this question?
  6. Choose a question to research.
  7. Then follow the steps below to evaluate your question.
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