266 episodes

Want to love walking into your ELA classroom each day? Excited about innovative strategies like PBL, escape rooms, hexagonal thinking, sketchnotes, one-pagers, student podcasting, genius hour, and more? Want a thriving choice reading program and a shelf full of compelling diverse texts?

You're in the right place!

Here you'll find interviews with top authors from the ELA field, workshops with strategies you can use in class immediately, and quick tips to ignite your English teacher creativity.

Love teaching poetry? Explore blackout poems, book spine poems, I am from poems, performance poetry, lessons for contemporary poets, and more.

Excited to get started with hexagonal thinking? Find out how to build your first deck of hexagons, guide your students through their first discussion, and even expand into hexagonal one-pagers.

Into visual learning? Me too! Learn about sketchnotes, one-pagers, and the writing makerspace.

Want to get your students podcasting? Get the top technology recs you need to make it happen, and find out what tips a podcaster would give to students starting out.

Wish your students would fall for choice reading? Explore top titles and how to fund them, learn to make your library more appealing, and find out how to be a top P.R. agent for books in your classroom.

In it for the interviews? Fabulous! Find out about project-based-learning, innovative school design, what really helps kids learn deeply, design thinking, how to choose diverse texts, when to scaffold sketchnotes lessons, building your first writing makerspace, cultivating writer's notebooks, getting started with genius hour, and so much more, from our wonderful guests.

Here at The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast, discover you're not alone as a creative English teacher. You're part of a vast community welcoming students to their next escape room, rolling out contemporary poetry and reading aloud on First Chapter Fridays, engaging kids with social media projects and real-world ELA units.

As your host (hi, I'm Betsy), I'm here to help you ENJOY your days at school and feel inspired by all the creative ways to teach both contemporary works and the classics your school may be pushing. I taught ELA at the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade levels both in the United States and overseas for almost a decade, and I didn't always get support for my creativity. Now I'm here to make sure YOU get the creative support you deserve, and it brings me so much joy.

Welcome to The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast, a podcast for English teachers in search of creative teaching strategies!

The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast | ELA Betsy Potash: ELA

    • Education
    • 4.9 • 210 Ratings

Want to love walking into your ELA classroom each day? Excited about innovative strategies like PBL, escape rooms, hexagonal thinking, sketchnotes, one-pagers, student podcasting, genius hour, and more? Want a thriving choice reading program and a shelf full of compelling diverse texts?

You're in the right place!

Here you'll find interviews with top authors from the ELA field, workshops with strategies you can use in class immediately, and quick tips to ignite your English teacher creativity.

Love teaching poetry? Explore blackout poems, book spine poems, I am from poems, performance poetry, lessons for contemporary poets, and more.

Excited to get started with hexagonal thinking? Find out how to build your first deck of hexagons, guide your students through their first discussion, and even expand into hexagonal one-pagers.

Into visual learning? Me too! Learn about sketchnotes, one-pagers, and the writing makerspace.

Want to get your students podcasting? Get the top technology recs you need to make it happen, and find out what tips a podcaster would give to students starting out.

Wish your students would fall for choice reading? Explore top titles and how to fund them, learn to make your library more appealing, and find out how to be a top P.R. agent for books in your classroom.

In it for the interviews? Fabulous! Find out about project-based-learning, innovative school design, what really helps kids learn deeply, design thinking, how to choose diverse texts, when to scaffold sketchnotes lessons, building your first writing makerspace, cultivating writer's notebooks, getting started with genius hour, and so much more, from our wonderful guests.

Here at The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast, discover you're not alone as a creative English teacher. You're part of a vast community welcoming students to their next escape room, rolling out contemporary poetry and reading aloud on First Chapter Fridays, engaging kids with social media projects and real-world ELA units.

As your host (hi, I'm Betsy), I'm here to help you ENJOY your days at school and feel inspired by all the creative ways to teach both contemporary works and the classics your school may be pushing. I taught ELA at the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade levels both in the United States and overseas for almost a decade, and I didn't always get support for my creativity. Now I'm here to make sure YOU get the creative support you deserve, and it brings me so much joy.

Welcome to The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast, a podcast for English teachers in search of creative teaching strategies!

    Highly Recommended: The Smoothie Grant (Summer PD Ideas)

    Highly Recommended: The Smoothie Grant (Summer PD Ideas)

    Welcome to the Thursday edition of The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast, a podcast for English teachers in search of creative teaching strategies. Whether you’re new to the show or a long-time listener, I’m so glad you’re here for today’s edition of “Highly Recommended.” This week, let’s talk about some of the best summer PD options out there. 
    First things first, I’ve got to tell you about my personal favorite summer PD experience of all time, the one my husband still jokingly refers to as my “smoothie grant.” One summer, my school had money left from its PD budget, and invited teachers to apply for small, simple ways to produce something helpful to their work over the summer with a little bit of funding. I applied for a budget to go get a smoothie each morning in June and sit and read and design curriculum at my favorite beach cafe in Los Angeles for an hour or two. I still remember how fun it was to sit on the balcony after rollerblading the beach at sunrise, listening to the surfers walk by, drinking my apple pie smoothie as I reread the Odyssey and thought about how to rewrite the 9th-grade curriculum. It was the perfect way to add a regular bit of work to my summer and feel like it was fun to do. If your school has a budget for summer PD and what you really want to do is work on curriculum, consider getting creative with a grant like this. 
    Next on my list I want to mention the National Endowment for the Humanities summer institute series. These cool programs take place all over the United States, giving you a chance to travel to interesting places, dig deep into their culture, and collaborate with colleagues from across the country. This summer they’ll have Grand Coulee Dam: The Intersection of Modernity and Indigenous Cultures in Spokane, Freedom Summer: 60 Years Later in Jackson, Shakespeare and Digital Storytelling in Decatur, and quite a few more.  My husband attended one of the institutes on civil rights years back and remembers it as being absolutely outstanding. 
    I consistently hear from people who have found the National Writer’s Project summer workshops extremely impactful, so that’s next. If you’re interested in diving deep into the teaching of writing, I’d look up your closest National Writing Project site and see what they have on offer.
    If you’re looking for online options, you might explore the on-demand workshops from Facing History & Ourselves, or the free online course available from the National Museum of the American Indian, “edX Course: Foundations for Transforming Teaching and Learning about Native Americans,” or of course, Camp Creative, the summer PD I run each June (topic to be revealed soon!)  
    Finally, I’ll give a quick nod to the Exeter Humanities Institute, a weeklong workshop all about the discussion method, Harkness. I attended this institute after my first year of teaching, following a month-long experiment in each of my classes to use only Harkness as our method of discussion. I learned SO MUCH that week, and it really influenced me as a teacher on a fundamental level. I never used any other discussion method after that, because I just couldn’t imagine NOT using Harkness. Look into the method before committing to a week to go deep with it, but if you find it’s a good fit at your school, this week of PD will be an incredible boost to your ability to help your students shine through the method. 
    Of course, self-care, family time, and travel are all also great ways to renew your strength and creativity this summer as well. But if you’re looking for a quality PD experience, these are some of my favorite options, so I highly recommend you follow the links in the show notes and check them out!
     
    Go Further: 
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    • 6 min
    265: Teaching Conversation in a Polarized World (The Elective Series Begins)

    265: Teaching Conversation in a Polarized World (The Elective Series Begins)

    Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about electives.

    Electives I want to design, like one about Youtube creation and one about Taylor Swift, and the amazing electives teachers in our community are designing and teaching around the world.

    So of course I’m really excited that today on the podcast we’ve got the first show in a new series about creative electives. My hope is that this series will bring you inspiration for new electives you can propose or new units you can teach, modeled on your favorite parts of other people’s electives, within your current courses.

    I’ll be interviewing teachers about some of their favorite electives - what they are, what they accomplish, and how they do it.

    On today’s show we're diving into an interview with Amanda Beal, a creative teacher in Northern Minnesota. She’s going to be talking about a powerful elective for the world today, when we are so divided and yet so fearful of talking about the issues that divide us. I’m going to let her reveal the name and nature of this elective in just a moment - so stay tuned. 
    Go Further: 
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    Join our community, Creative High School English, on Facebook.
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    Enjoying the podcast? Please consider sharing it with a friend, snagging a screenshot to share on the ‘gram, or tapping those ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ to help others discover the show. Thank you! 

    • 17 min
    Highly Recommended: Launch Tiny Podcasts

    Highly Recommended: Launch Tiny Podcasts

    Welcome to the Thursday edition of The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast, a podcast for English teachers in search of creative teaching strategies. Whether you’re new to the show or a long-time listener, I’m so glad you’re here for today’s edition of “Highly Recommended.” This week, I want to suggest you take the plunge and help your students create a tiny podcast. 
    The first time I rolled out a podcasting project was with my tenth-grade honors students. Our humanities team had decided to create a project connecting the English and History curriculum for the students’ honors Humanities portfolio, a new program we were trying. None of us really knew how to podcast, though we probably all enjoyed the occasional episode of This American Life. After all, this was thirteen years ago and podcasts were just taking off.
    Nevertheless, we asked our tech team for help, figured out a program our students could use, and then launched the project.
    Our students blew us away. 
    I think it’s important to remember that kids are often interested in exploring beyond our skills with tech. The answer to any question is generally just a Youtube search away. 
    That’s why in my mind it’s worth the risk of assigning a project you might not be 100% confident in. Learn alongside your students. Try assigning a 2 minute podcast - it could be a book review, a bit of research, an opinion on a current issue, a chance to teach a life skill or profile a career, or whatever fits your curriculum. Let kids know they can record the whole thing using the big red button on the Vocaroo website, OR they can explore other options they might be interested in. See what happens. 
    I’ve heard from so many teachers who’ve seen great success with their podcasting projects. Communication today extends far beyond the written word, and kids are eager to develop their media skills, so today, I want to highly recommend you spend just a couple of days on a tiny podcast project, and see where that leads you.
     
    Go Further: 
    Explore alllll the Episodes of The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast.
    Join our community, Creative High School English, on Facebook.
    Come hang out on Instagram. 
    Want to learn more about student podcasting? You might like this free, easy roadmap to student podcasting. 
    Enjoying the podcast? Please consider sharing it with a friend, snagging a screenshot to share on the ‘gram, or tapping those ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ to help others discover the show. Thank you! 
     

    • 3 min
    Let's Reimagine the "Teacher Work Room"

    Let's Reimagine the "Teacher Work Room"

    Ahh, the hum of fluorescent lighting. The slightly stained carpeting. The copier that is almost-if-not-already-out-of-paper. The dirty coffee cups. It's no secret that at many schools, the common teacher workspace isn't exactly inviting. No one really seems to be in charge of it, no resources really seem to be allocated toward it, and no one has time to care. (If that isn't the case at your school, AWESOME! And if that's because of you, that's so cool!)

    But lately I can't help but ask... what if? What if the community workspace for educators had a tad more in common with those unique co-working spaces I see on Pinterest? Or those cool start-up offices with bagels on the counter and ping pong tables that pop up on Netflix sitcoms? Or the legendary work campuses of tech companies like Google and Youtube?

    What if teachers actually enjoyed working in the faculty room/teacher room/copy room at your school, because it was.... like.... NICE?

    When I saw a Facebook question in Creative High School English the other day from an administrator asking how they could do something nice for teachers, my mind turned automatically to this space - I'm going to call it a faculty room from here on out.

    Ever since reading Ali Abdaal's book, Feel Good Productivity, in December, I've been leaning into my usual proclivity for creating pleasant environments since apparently feeling good where you do your work makes you more productive.

    I don't think it would take much to overhaul many faculty rooms into a pleasant space to help create community, make teachers feel more supported, and even inspire more innovative pedagogy. In today's episode, I'm going to share a range of ideas - some of them free, some of them low cost, all of them mainly requiring someone who cares enough to ask for a small budget, gather a few colleagues to help, and get started.

    (Someone like you.)
     
    Go Further: 
    Explore alllll the Episodes of The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast.
    Join our community, Creative High School English, on Facebook.
    Come hang out on Instagram. 
    Enjoying the podcast? Please consider sharing it with a friend, snagging a screenshot to share on the ‘gram, or tapping those ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ to help others discover the show. Thank you! 
    Make your Copy of the Podcast Posters:  https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1spsn3iz9fxHkJiK3oxEIq8mdbbD7RvT4qxZCDM-Qkv8/copy
    Make your Copy of the Pedagogy Posters: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/15RS-QhBuju2_YlkUOui8ruFgyLKndTyYythU-jcRuX8/copy 

     

    • 17 min
    Highly Recommended: Let Students Design Escape Rooms

    Highly Recommended: Let Students Design Escape Rooms

    This week, I want to suggest you let your students design an escape room.
    Escape rooms are, in the iconic words of Zoolander, so hot right now. And they have been for years. Students love them! Who wouldn’t want to learn while exploring mysterious clues and piecing together puzzles? 
    The problem is, they take a little bit of forever to create. We’ve already talked about this quite a bit on the podcast! 
    But you know what they say (and yes, it’s based on the research), students elevate their learning when they teach.
    So why not turn things around and have the students design the escape rooms? They’ll have to thoroughly understand the material they’re trying to share in order to embed it into clues and puzzles for their peers.
    I’ve created a digital template your students can customize to create their own escape rooms on any subject matter you want them to teach each other. Just follow the link in the show notes to pick up this free resource.
    Escape rooms are a flexible and fun way to learn, so that’s why this week I want to highly recommend you give them a try, with your creative students leading the way! 

    Grab the Student Escape Room Templates here: https://sparkcreativity.kartra.com/page/escaperoomkit 
    Go Further: 
    Explore alllll the Episodes of The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast.
    Join our community, Creative High School English, on Facebook.
    Come hang out on Instagram. 
    Enjoying the podcast? Please consider sharing it with a friend, snagging a screenshot to share on the ‘gram, or tapping those ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ to help others discover the show. Thank you! 
     

    • 1 min
    Skill Practice that Isn't Boring: Grammar Edition

    Skill Practice that Isn't Boring: Grammar Edition

    So you want your students to get better at something, but drill-and-kill is clearly not the answer. Been there, done that, didn't like it. So what's a creative teacher to do?

    Today I'm going to pull an example of a grammar skill and walk through five different ways to practice it without those groans you dread. While the skill I'm zooming in on may not be the exact one that's your focus right now, you can apply these five different strategies to pretty much anything. I'm hopeful that by the end of this quick show, your mind will be buzzing with new ideas for tackling the next skill your students need help with.

    Go Further: 
    Explore alllll the Episodes of The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast.
    Join our community, Creative High School English, on Facebook.
    Come hang out on Instagram. 
    Enjoying the podcast? Please consider sharing it with a friend, snagging a screenshot to share on the ‘gram, or tapping those ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ to help others discover the show. Thank you! 
     

    • 14 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
210 Ratings

210 Ratings

noellepan ,

THE BEST RESOURCES

I’ve only just started digging for gold in this podcast. Betsy is so cool, creative, and generous with her templates and ideas! I am creative in my lessons but my materials have never looked this fancy. Also, I’m switching up how I assess students each time I see a new way to do it. My students particularly loved the one-pager templates with the awesome directions. Thank you, Betsy! I look forward to all of your podcasts and blog posts.

TeacherBi ,

More than just an ELA podcast

Betsy shares great classroom ideas even for non-language teachers. I use the hexagonal thinking activity in my Science classes fir review.

Shelley Bennett ,

Easy to use ideas!

The One-Pager is one of my favorite tools that came from Betsy’s podcast. They are easy to use, adaptable for any subject, and I love grading them because they always contain a little piece of the student creator.

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