280 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 • 214 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!

    Try this Hack to Teach Varied Sentence Structure

    Try this Hack to Teach Varied Sentence Structure

     
    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 this week’s mini episode. Today, I want to share a fun visual trick for helping students vary their sentence structure. 
    I never really thought about sentence length until I was writing professionally. Sure, I knew to avoid run-on sentences, how to wield a semicolon, and what an appositive could do. But really it was when I realized I wanted to vary my sentence LENGTH in the articles I was writing for other websites that I started playing with structure more. 
    I wanted punchy moments.
    I also wanted long, detailed stories that could twist and turn through the text, capturing my reader’s imagination with sensory imagery and vivid descriptions.
    The combination of both led to more exciting writing with more varied types of structure. It’s not that I went into a line thinking “I want to use an appositive, three commas, and a semicolon here.” It’s that I was trying to write a long sentence after a short sentence, so I experimented.
    There’s an easy way to guide students to do the same thing. I call it “Shaped Stories.” Simply create a handout or slide with a photo at the top, and a big black rectangle down below. Then add white rectangles on the big black one, each a space for students’ sentences going down the page, and make the white rectangles different sizes. Leave a tiny rectangle where a sentence will have to be just two or three words. Then add a wide, tall one where a sentence would have to be complex to fill it. Then try medium-size, and so on and so forth down the page.
    When you invite students to set a story inside the picture prompt at the top, ask them to fill each box completely with their sentences. Show them your example, and feel free to review a few types of sentence structures that might help them out. 
    When it comes to varied sentence structure, shaped stories are an easy (and fun) hack for helping students practice. That’s why this week I want to highly recommend you take a peek at the visuals in the show notes for inspiration and then give it a try. 
    Go Further: 
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    • 5 min
    How to Launch Book Talk Podcasts in Class

    How to Launch Book Talk Podcasts in Class

    Book talk podcasts can provide gentle choice reading accountability, target presentation of knowledge and speaking skills, and build a library of book recommendations for future students.
    Not bad, right? Today on the podcast I'm going to walk you through how to launch a book talk podcast with your students, and why it will be fantastic.
    Example Script:  https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1Aj__-O8kwEJTXr_-3o7AU9B15sSQYIIFyn-cy-HSkUQ/edit?usp=sharing 
     
    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! 
     

    • 10 min
    A Lesser-Known Amanda Gorman Gem

    A Lesser-Known Amanda Gorman Gem

    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 this week’s mini episode. Today, as earth day inches closer, I want to share a favorite find, Amanda Gorman’s video poem “Earthrise.” This beautiful poem could fit in so many different places in your curriculum, so let’s talk about them.
    First of all, let me tell you a bit about this poem, which of course I’ll link in the show notes. It’s shared on Youtube by The Climate Reality Project, and it’s from five years ago, before Amanda Gorman stormed the world scene with her inauguration poem. It’s a performance piece with video footage of Amanda and of the world intermingled as the tells the story of the first astronaut to see the world from space, then connects the way he saw the earth rise with the idea that we can confront the issue of climate change and make our own individual positive impacts and see our own earthrise. It’s a lovely, inspiring call to action which acknowledges this big, weighty issue without making things feel hopeless.
    I can think of three ways you might use this poem which I’ll share here.
    First, you could use it as a springboard to a project about influence, and what it means to be an influencer. Amanda Gorman uses her social media profiles, her performances, and her poetry to lend strength to causes she cares about. In a social media-driven world, she stands out as a youth icon who continuously searches out ways to use her influence positively. You could look at examples of her influencer work and her cause-driven poems and have your students create projects related to the nature of influence and what types of influencer they want to be influenced by.
    Second, you could use this poem as a springboard for a video poetry project. Whether your students create their own original pieces or create a video around a poem they love, this is a chance to use their voices and their visuals to bring out the meaning behind a piece. Teach them the 3 second rule, that the angle or shot almost always changes every 3 seconds in professional video, and have them spot it in “Earthrise.” Then let them create a poetry video of their own, using the techniques you identify together in Gorman’s piece. 
    Third and last, you could use this poem as a springboard for a call-to-action poem. Have students consider the issues that matter most to them. Have them analyze how Gorman builds energy and hope in her poem with her literary and performance choices. Then have them use it as a mentor text to create their own poem calling people to hopeful action to make a difference in the issue that matters to them.
    This one piece is, of course, the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Amanda Gorman’s work. This week I want to highly recommend you check it out as a wonderful starting point, and perhaps it will lead you down a lovely rabbit hole of her work and all the many ways it could fit into your curriculum. 
    "Earthrise" by Amanda Gorman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwOvBv8RLmo 
     
    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!

    • 5 min
    How Erica Used the AI PBL Project to give her Students Voice

    How Erica Used the AI PBL Project to give her Students Voice

    It’s never a bad thing when your classroom innovation lands you at a press conference with your state’s department of education!

    That’s what happened to today’s guest, Erica Kempf. She decided to try out the project-based-learning unit I designed about the ethical use of artificial intelligence, and along the way she and her students made it their own and became the go-to sources for AI in their district.

    They learned a lot in the process, and I’m so excited to have Erica here to share her story with you. Before we dive in, just a heads up that you can grab the free PBL AI curriculum set that Erica and her students used right here. So if you get inspired as you listen, you can download this unit for yourself and give it a try!
    Grab the Full (Free) PBL AI Unit Here: https://sparkcreativity.kartra.com/page/aipbl 
     
    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! 
     

    • 28 min
    Let All Books Count: A Tale of Two Kids

    Let All Books Count: A Tale of Two Kids

    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 this week’s mini episode. Today, I want to talk about a much-debated subject - when it comes to choice reading, what counts and what doesn’t?
    If you’ve been here with me for long, I bet you can imagine that a lot of books were involved in the early life of my own children. They had tiny themed board book displays before they could roll over, and we were a constant at our little local library. But after their baby years, my two kids’ reading paths diverged, wildly.
    My son’s path has been like mine. He went through epic series after epic series, hit the children’s classics, and is now deeply entrenched in wonderful fantasy books that he reads to himself every night, unless he’s not feeling well, in which case he plugs in an audiobook. 
    My daughter’s path, not so much. If I had a quarter for every time I’ve offered to read to her, tried to hand off a book I was sure she would love, or invited her to read with me and gotten turned down - very politely - I could probably book us into Club Med for the weekend. 
    Helping her become fond of books has been an eight year project, and lately I feel like I’m seeing it happen. But it’s been VERY heavy on three formats, and they happen to be much debated as “real” reading - graphic novels, re-reading old favorites, and audiobooks. 
    For my youngest, becoming a reader has meant listening to soooooooooo much Junie B. Jones and Ramona. It has meant reading all 18 of the hilarious graphic novel series, The Bad Guys, and suddenly announcing that it was “Better than eating candy.” It’s meant careful tiny steps forward with print text, one page at a time,  in books about subjects she absolutely loves, like young girls discovering their magical connection to elemental horses.
    Without the re-reading, the audiobooks and the graphic novels, I’m pretty sure I’d still be getting that polite smiling “no thank you, Mama” everytime I reached for a book. 
    It can be hard - believe me I know - to see a kid re-read an old book or plug into an audiobook - when you really want to see them explore new titles and improve their print comprehension. And I’m all for encouraging students to keep trying a lot of different things, and even to read two or three books at a time - maybe an old favorite, an audiobook, and a little bit of something new and challenging. I often have this pattern going in my own life.  But this week I just want to highly recommend that we remember, all books are part of the journey to becoming a reader. Rereading, graphic novels, and audiobooks might just be a student’s gateway to a lifetime of reading.
     
    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! 

    • 3 min
    Teaching SciFi & Fantasy (The Elective Series continues)

    Teaching SciFi & Fantasy (The Elective Series continues)

    We’re about to dive into an elective that combines Beowulf, The Hobbit, Ursula Leguin, graphic novels, and contemporary YA! What holds all these threads together? That’s what repeat guest and creative teacher Caitlin Lore is about to tell you as we continue our series on creative electives across the country. Get ready for the big reveal in just a moment.
    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! 
     

    • 13 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
214 Ratings

214 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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