English Language Arts & Literacy


  • ESL Autobiographies

    School can be challenging for many students, especially when learning English as a Second Language (ESL). However, in this episode of NJEA’s Classroom Close-up, ESL students at McManus Middle School learn English language skills in a meaningful way. An autobiography assignment gives the students the opportunity to research their family histories and hone their English writing and speaking skills while boosting their confidence! Their classroom is a safe space that fosters risk taking and mistake making to create a comfortable learning environment.  

    Grades: 13+
  • iRead

    In this episode of NJEA’s Classroom Close-up, students at Edgemont Elementary School are using tablet computers to improve their writing skills. Writing teacher Jennette Williams received a grant to buy several tablets for her students to use. Based on what topics they are studying, students are writing letters to different people. The students start by thinking about their audience and the purpose of their letter. Students use the tablets to write a letter, edit it, and then send it via email. The technology increases student engagement in the writing process.

    Grades: 13+
  • Dewey Who

    In this episode of NJEA’s Classroom Close-up, Seaview Elementary third graders are learning the Dewey decimal system with the help of a male role model. The evening event was sponsored by an NJEA PRIDE in Education Grant. The program starts with a scavenger hunt in which teams of adults and children must use the Dewey decimal system to find books in the library. The students have been learning about how to locate books, and they take great pride in showing the adults what they have learned. Afterwards, the teams select books and the adults are encouraged to read to their children.

    Grades: 13+
  • Literacy Fair

    In this episode of NJEA’s Classroom Close-up, students from Forked River Elementary School showcase their writing skills at the school’s annual literacy fair. Students present their work, sing songs and write poems that display their growing writing skills. Families are invited to the event to view and hear their children’s work and participate in workshops where they learn how to help prepare their children for statewide standardized writing tests.  

    Grades: 13+
  • Debate League

    Bring on the arguments! For middle school students competing in the Garden State Debate League, arguments are learning opportunities in this episode of NJEA’s Classroom Close-up! The program is designed to teach students public speaking, critical thinking, listening and debating skills. Many students share that they want a forum on which to share their public policy issue opinions. The Garden State Debate program resolves that issue. On debate day, students are assigned either proposition or opposition sides to topics. After preparing arguments and debating their sides, judges declare winners and give constructive criticism.

    Grades: 13+
  • Write Type of Mentor

    When it comes to mentoring second graders, the fifth graders at Marshall Hill Elementary School know how to do it write! The ongoing collaborative writing project between the two grade levels not only supports the formation of better writing, revision and editing skills, but also fosters relationship building and tolerance. Second grade students are taught about certain writing elements, such as personification, and then practice their writing skills. Fifth graders then offer revision and editing ideas before the written products are typed for publication in the computer lab. 

    Grades: 13+
  • Number the Stars

    In this episode of NJEA’s Classroom Close-up, fifth-grade students at Alan B. Shepard Elementary School learn about the holocaust by reading the book, Number the Stars, and creating paneled works of art.The paneled artwork, called triptychs, uses historical photos to show how holocaust victims’ lives were transformed. Through the research and creation of the artwork, students learn to analyze images and build empathy. 

    Grades: 13+
  • Hedgepeth Williams Story

    In this episode of NJEA’s Classroom Close-up, Paul Robeson Elementary School teacher, Kristine Burns, uses a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling on school desegregation that occurred in their school as the basis for a class book project. Through the study of Hedgepeth-Williams v. Board of Education, students learn about the history of school segregation and racial discrimination within a local context.

    Grades: 13+
  • A Story, A Story

    In this episode of NJEA's Classroom Close-up, students at Berkley and B.F. Gibbs elementary schools practice the art of storytelling among an audience. As part of Read Across America, students engage in a story festival where they present Anansi stories from West Africa. The stories are memorized and presented in the oral tradition including artistic expression. This festival allows students to show their creative talents, add personality, and practice public speaking.

    Grades: 13+
  • Books Come to Life

    Join students at Winfield Elementary School as they celebrate reading in this episode of NJEA's Classroom Close-up. As part of Read Across America Day, the students from Pre-K to eighth grade invited their families to school as they made "Books Come to Life." The younger students performed stories such as Four and Twenty Blackbirds and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Third graders presented talk shows where they interviewed authors. And middle school students dressed up as their favorite characters. The school-wide event helped foster parent involvement and emphasized how much fun reading can be.

    Grades: 13+
  • Authors & Educators

    In this episode of NJEA’s Classroom Close-up, educator and author of "The Silver Linings Playbook," Matthew Quick discusses the power of reading. He joins current and retired educators to discuss balancing writing with teaching and how each informs the other.

    Grades: 13+
  • Art of Comprehension

    An art teacher, a fourth grade teacher and a fifth grade teacher teamed up at Elms Elementary School in Jackson Township, NJ when they realized that the cognitive processes involved in reading comprehension were almost identical to those involved in pictorial comprehension. They developed a program called the Art of Comprehension, which integrates visual anaylsis into lessons across the curriculum. The program aims to increase students' critical thinking skills and make art more accessible and understandable. Early data also suggests that the program is increasing students‘ standardized test scores.

    Grades: 13+
  • Real Men Read

    Reading Specialist Marilu Bicknell in Glassboro, NJ was concerned by statistics showing that young boys are more interested in sports than books, so she created a literacy program to foster a love of reading among male students. Bicknell created the Real Men Read Literacy Project at the Thomas E. Bowe Elementary School in Glassboro. The program consists of regular breakfasts with men in the community (including alumni, the town's mayor, athletes, school janitors) and an afterschool book club for boys to explore various book genres with their peers.

    Grades: 13+
  • NJ Dodge Poetry Festival

    The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, the largest poetry event in North America, returns to Newark for its 14th biennial event in this Classroom Close-Up video. Bill O'Neal takes his pupils from Trenton Central High West Campus to the High School Student Day. The budding poets participate in readings, attend performances, and converse with world-renowned poets about their craft.

    Grades: 13+
  • Authors' Day

    Each year, creative writing teachers at Ocean Township Intermediate School hold an "Authors' Day," where published writers and illustrators teach sixth grade students about their crafts. On the day of the event, the students rotate through various workshops in the school library. The teachers' hope is that hearing from "the experts" will encourage their pupils to continue sharpening their writing skills. The aim isn't necessarily to inspire future authors, but instead to help mold students into "effective communicators for life."  

    Grades: 13+
  • Classroom Close Up NJ | Building Kids Program

    Special education students at Haleyville-Mauricetown Elementary School build and race canoes to improve their teamwork skills while applying classroom learning to a real world project.

    Grades: 3-5, 13+
  • Zombie Apocalypse

    In this episode of NJEA’s Classroom Close-up, learn how technology teacher Cristen Serdy from Sovereign Avenue School in Atlantic City coordinates a unit about emergency preparedness through a project called the Zombie Apocalypse. The multidisciplinary unit was created to increase engagement in a technology assessment for eighth graders. Students study disease transmission in science and how to plan emergency escape routes in social studies. In language arts they use digital storytelling to produce emergency broadcast warnings. The culminating event is an assembly about the importance of being prepared for an emergency.

    Grades: 13+
  • Sign of Distinction

    Although some classrooms might sound quiet, lots of learning is taking place at Vineland High School! Students here are able to choose American Sign Language (ASL) as their second language course in this episode of NJEA’s Classroom Close-up. As they work towards ASL proficiency, students learn that every language, including ASL, has a culture behind it. Students who are deaf are invited to class to bring their perspectives as native signers. The visitors note how unique an opportunity it is for students in this school to learn about the differences that exist between deaf and hearing cultures. 

    Grades: 13+
  • Wax Museum

    Fifth grade students from Washington Elementary School take on the life of historical figures, quite literally, in this episode of NJEA’s Classroom Close-up! As part of the Wax Museum project, students choose a historical figure, conduct research, write a biographical report, and create posters and poems about their chosen person. Finally, on wax museum day, students dress up as wax depictions of their figures, who come to life with a push of a “button” located on their bodies! This project integrates social studies, reading, and language arts and is many students’ first exposure to public speaking.

    Grades: 13+
  • Educaching

    Students at Woodland School in Barrington, NJ strengthen 21st century skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication through educaching (educational geocaching). Before the students begin this interactive project, they learn about GPS and satellite technology in the classroom. The 5th through 8th graders then use coordinates and GPS devices to locate physical clues and puzzles hidden on school grounds in a scavenger hunt format. Educaching incorporates language arts, science, history, and math curricula.

    Grades: 13+

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