Feature Friday: End of the Year Paired Reading Assignment

The end of the school year is tough. Students and teachers alike are getting antsy and can’t wait for summer vacation. Yet, we can’t stop teaching. I find that at the end of the year it is especially important to have engaging yet meaningful learning experiences for our students.

My first year of teaching I came up with a variation of the product I have recently posted. Since then I have used it with high school seniors, 7th and 8th graders, and my college composition students. It has been successful with each group. If you’re like me you’re probably skeptical when someone tells you a product can be used equally with seventh graders and freshmen in college, but I promise you it’s true. You just adjust your expectations for the end result!

So, just what is this lesson? It’s a paired reading of Max Ehrmann’s poem “Desiderata” and the essay, “Wear Sunscreen” by Mary Schmich which was popularized by the spoken word “song” by Baz Luhrman. Included in my product is a lesson plan and links to the text (do to copyright issues) as well as links to videos of the works being read.
Desiderata Covere

This works as an engaging activity for several reasons. First, it includes videos, which have images and sound. I don’t know about you, but my students, of all ages, love it when I can incorporate YouTube into my lessons. Yet, the videos aren’t the focus. The text is. Second, I don’t force the students to do an overly intense reading of the works. I just ask them to do some simple text-self and text-text responses. Third, and this is probably the best part, the students are then given their own opportunity to express their advice for life based on their own unique experiences.

I’ve gotten some wonderful responses through the years. Most recently these stood out from my college students- who vary greatly in age.

“Go to school. Get an education.
It will suck, cost a lot of money, and seem fruitless at times.
But knowledge is power.
No one can take your mind from you.”

“If I could offer you one piece of advice for the future…. Wear a seatbelt.
Feel free to break the speed limit every so often and blare music with the windows down;
That is the best part of driving.
Let the wind rush over your body as you belt out the lyrics to your favorite song
Because these are the fleeting moments in your life.”

“Ask questions.
Trust me, you’re not the only one confused.
Just raise your hand already and spit it out!
Everyone will speak up after.”

This is a time saving lesson for you! You’ll receive the lesson plan, an extension activity idea, links to the necessary media, and handouts that have differing levels of support which is perfect for ELL or IEP/504 students who may need it.

Download it here!


TPT ProfileSara Fuller is a 5 year veteran English teacher with an MA in literature who has experience teaching students ranging from the middle school to college level. She blogs about her teaching adventures at Ms. F’s Teaching Adventures and young adult books at YA Lit, the Good, the Bad, the Ugly!
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