5 YA Suspense/Thriller Novels You Should Add To Your Classroom Library

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena is a young adult thriller. The book is about a married couple living Upstate New York. One day Tom comes home and his wife Karen is missing and the house is unlocked. After calling the police Tom finds out that Karen was in a terrible car crash. Although she survives the crash, she’s lost her memory. What was she escaping from?

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl is a young adult suspense novel. The book is about a girl named Beatrice that is trying to find out the truth about her boyfriend’s mysterious death. It’s been a year since his death and she feels like everyone she thought she knew has changed. Does she truly know her friends? Did she really know her boyfriend?

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus is a young adult suspense novel. In this novel a group of students all get detention for having cellphones in class (which they claim aren’t their phones). During detention one of the students ends up dying from a peanut allergy. Who killed Simon? They all had a motive. They all had something to hide. Who did it?

Hidden Pieces by Paula Stokes is a young adult suspense novel. The protagonist of the novel is Embry woods and after saving a man’s life everyone declares that she’s a hero. Soon after someone starts blackmailing her. She has some very deep secrets. Why was she at the hotel the night of the fire? What really happened that night? Who else was there?

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas is a young adult suspense novel. Sunnybrook High hasn’t had cheerleaders in five years because within one month five cheerleaders died. Two cheerleaders died in a car accident, two were murdered, and one committed suicide. Monica lives in the shadows of her perfect sister that died by her own hand. Were these tragedies a coincidence or are they all connected?

5 Activities for Early Finishers in the ELA Classroom

Differentiating instruction in your high school ELA class can be overwhelming. You have learners that need assistance navigating complex texts and writing papers while others are devouring books before the final deadlines and writing papers with little to no help. The latter group shouldn’t be given “busy” work. Activities for early finishers in the ELA classroom can help your advanced students have meaningful tasks that will deepen their learning.

Start a Book Club.

Use Google Classroom, Flipgrid, or Padlet to have your early finishers gather together and discuss the books they are reading. Whether they are reading the same title or just teasing or reviewing their own favorite reads, your students who love to read will love engaging with each other in a virtual book club that can be done on their own time, in and outside of the school day. Encourage your readers to choose some YA Golden Sower books or books on their AP lists. Take it a step further and allow them to start their own Book Club YouTube channel!

Research and write scholarship applications.

When I ask my students what is holding them back from applying for more college scholarships, a common complaint is lack of time. Between the school day, homework, and extracurriculars and/or an after-school job, students are finding it difficult to navigate the web to find and apply for legitimate scholarship opportunities. Help your students know which opportunities are safe and give them time to apply when they finish their work early! Utilize your high school counseling department to help find scholarships for your students.

Black Out Poems

Art meets poetry with this incredible “found poetry”. You’ll need some old books (that you can tear pages from), pencils, and black markers. Have your students choose a random page from a book. They may hesitate to rip a page from a treasured old novel at first, but assure them it’s for a greater good. Have them circle or box their favorite “kept” words on the page. The rest of the words will be blacked out so only the newly found poem will remain. Some students may go beyond the blackout form and create intricate, colorful designs on the page, still leaving just the words as the final linguistic form.

Network, read, and review on Goodreads 

Encourage your students to make a profile on Goodreads. You can even start your own class or group for students to join. Students can create “want-to-read” shelves, mark and reviews books that they have finished, and even share their progress on books they are “currently reading”. There are places to chat and discuss books and even giveaways of newly released books directly from authors and publishers. Goodreads is a great way for your early finishers to discover and discuss books.

Start a blog.

There are so many free blogging platforms for students. Weebly, Blogger, Wordpress, Edublogs, and even Google Sites allow your students to create their own platforms and share their voices. Let your students shine by creating their own content about what they care about. Whether it’s movie reviews, social commentary, fashion blogging, or a food blog, the world is theirs when it comes to blogging. Talk to them about online etiquette, elements of a blog post (images, text, and call to action), and let them share with the world!

These activities for early finishers in the ELA classroom may inspire even your reluctant (but proficient) learners to work hard in order to participate in these educational enriched activities. Use technology and differentiation to help your learners enjoy their extra time in class.


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