9 Ways to Keep the Classics Fresh in High School English


The classics have been a staple in high school English classrooms for decades. While these enduring texts are rich in literary value, teaching them can sometimes become monotonous for both students and teachers. Here are nine ways to keep the classics fresh in high school English and ensure that students remain engaged with the material.

1. Connect the Classics with Current Issues

One way to keep the classics fresh is to establish connections between the themes of these works and contemporary issues. By drawing parallels to current events, societal concerns, or even pop culture, students can better understand the relevance of these enduring texts in their lives.

2. Employ Multimedia Adaptations

Multimedia adaptations of classic texts can provide a fresh perspective on familiar stories. Incorporate film adaptations, graphic novels, or audio dramas into your curriculum to breathe new life into these timeless tales.

3. Collaborative Learning

Encourage collaborative learning by having students work together on group projects. This can involve rewriting a scene from a classic text using modern language or engaging students in role-playing activities to better understand characters’ motivations and decisions.

4. Encourage Creative Expression

Have students explore their creative side by writing an alternate ending to a beloved classic or developing their own prequel or sequel. This allows them to think critically about the original while also flexing their creative muscles.

5. Teach Comparatively

Instead of studying one classic text at a time, consider teaching two or more works simultaneously and encourage comparative analysis. This approach challenges students’ critical thinking skills and deepens their understanding of each text’s themes and motifs.

6. Utilize Technology

Incorporate technology into your lessons through online discussion boards, interactive quizzes, or digital storytelling tools that allow students to create dynamic content related to the classics they’re studying.

7. Bring in Guest Speakers

Invite guest speakers such as local authors, professors, or literary scholars to provide their unique perspectives on the classics. Their insights can help reinvigorate discussions and inspire students to view these texts through a new lens.

8. Foster Real-Life Connections

Encourage students to form connections between the classics and their own lives. This can be done through journaling, personal reflections on specific themes, or by assigning creative projects that allow students to explore how these works relate to their experiences.

9. Transform the Classroom

Make the classroom experience immersive by using decorations, costumes, or props that transport students into the world of the classic text being studied. This can help awaken their imaginations and make learning about the classics feel like a thrilling adventure.


By incorporating these techniques into your high school English curriculum, you can keep the classics fresh and engaging for your students. In doing so, you’ll not only deepen their understanding of these venerable works but also inspire a lifelong love for literature.