Making ELA Curriculum Relevant to Students


As a future English Language Arts teacher, the professional topic I have chosen to explore in more detail is making the curriculum relevant to students. This is something that I have been wondering ever since I was in high school English classes. Now, as a future ELA educator and someone who is currently student teaching, I am even more interested in finding resources and gaining more knowledge about making curriculum relevant. Below are a collection of sources ranging from a book, website, journal article, and video on this topic.

Book: Workshopping the Canon

This book was written by Mary E. Styslinger and published on November 6th, 2017 by the National Council of English Teachers. Workshopping the Canon which contains lessons, excerpts, and approaches to teaching English Language Arts from a workshop mindset. Styslinger’s motivation for writing the book came from witnessing students struggling to connect with the teaching of canonical texts in middle and secondary classrooms. The strength of this resource is that it has multiple research-backed practices and examples of how to enact a workshop approach. A weakness of this resource is that it is not the most current research on relevant practices and may not be able to be used in school districts with a scripted curriculum.

Link to purchase book:


Journal Article: “Making Sense with Informational Texts: The Interactive Read-Aloud as Responsive Teaching” 

This journal article was written by Laura May and Gary Bingham and published by the National Council of Teachers of English. The article was included in their journal titled: Inquiring with Whole Langauge Practices in October of 2015. The article explores the use of interactive read-alouds by answering questions teachers may have about them. Additionally, this article was written to provide a guide for ELA teachers to enact culturally relevant literacy practices in the classroom with research and real-life examples. A weakness of this journal article is the explicit focus on just one technique to use and may not include the most current information or research on the topic. The strength of this resource is that the authors have research backing their argument and the language used is teacher-friendly.

Link to PDF of text:  Journal Article


Website Resource: “Ideas for Engaging Students In Active Learning” 

This resource was created by the Teaching Tolerance organization and includes four ideas any content-area teachers can use to promote active learning. Each of the ideas on this resource and the quote on top is in response to more traditional, lecture-style classroom activities that disengage learners. The strength of this resource is that there is a quote from an educator and author as well as places for teachers to brainstorm on the resource while having the information directly in front of them. A weakness of this resource is that there is no one author or date of when the resource was created and published on the site.

Link to PDF of the resource: Ideas for Engaging Students in Active Learning


Website Article: “10 Ways to Connect ELA to Real Life” 

This article was written by Melissa Kruze, who is a former ELA teacher and currently works as an instructional coach. She has multiple degrees which include English, Curriculum & Instruction, and Reading. The article “10 Ways to Connect ELA to Real Life” was published on the Reading and Writing Haven website on May 3rd, 2018. The article includes 10 ways to make the ELA curriculum more relatable to students with links to specific activities and other website posts. Kruze seems to have written this article as a capsule of other work she has written and the experiences she has had during her life in the ELA classroom. A strength of this article is the use of links to other articles and the organized incorporation of multiple strategies and examples from the author’s experience. The weakness of this article is that the author is not affiliated or published on a reputable education website. Additionally, the resource does not have any research cited or sources incorporated into the writing and reads like a blog post more than a research article.

Link to article:





Website Article: “Culturally Relevant Pedagogy”

This article was written by Lisa Fink and published on the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) website. “Culturally Relevant Pedagogy” was published on February 21st, 2016 under the Diversity Instruction section. This article is on a blog thread and includes an overview of resources ELA teachers can use to be more culturally relevant. Lisa Fink seems to be writing this article to extend on the work of prior educational theorist Gloria Ladson-Billings who coined the term “culturally relevant pedagogy”. The article provides direct links to resources on NCTE’s website and A weakness of this article is that Lisa Fink’s authority on the subject of culturally relevant pedagogy is not shown and the resource could be a little dated with newer resources being created each year. The strength of this resource is that it is a curated article backed by NCTE’s organization. Additionally, there are embedded links and sources to back up each of the claims and points made in the article.

Link to article:


Video: “Engaging Students” 

This video was created by Teaching Tolerance and published on their official YouTube page. The video features an ELA teacher, Regina Flores-Kincaid who speaks about the engaging curriculum she has created for her classes. A video of this nature seems to be created to give other teachers testimonies and useful examples for creating similar student engagement in the classroom. A strength of this resource is that a practicing educator is giving tips and advice to other teachers in a cohesive manner. The video is also created by Teaching Tolerance which is a reputable source for social justice education resources. Some weaknesses of this resource are that we do know much about the teacher’s credentials in the video. Additionally, there is no date on the video so it could be dated.

Link to the article that features the video: