Author Archives: msdickson

Useful End of the Year Activities

The end of the year can bring special challenges.  Students are wearing down, distracted by summer, or pulled away by testing or other special events.  Seniors may get out early, which can disrupt any class with a senior.  It may … Continue reading

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Engaging Activities for Practicing Literary Analysis

Literary analysis is an important activity, requiring students to dig into the text in a thoughtful way, finding support in the very words and phrases and ideas of the text.  It’s different from research writing or opinion-based papers.  Students, at … Continue reading

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Reasons to (Still) Use the Five Paragraph Essay in High School and Beyond (Even for Advanced Learners)

The five-paragraph essay is a formulaic, bland, rigid model.  But it is also an incredibly structured, challenging guide.  It is a tool that can either stifle a writer or push them towards growth.   I have something of a love-hate relationship … Continue reading

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Texts and Activities for Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month.  The month may also include the end of a marking period (or trimester), state testing, and/ or spring break. While it may not be possible to dedicate time to a whole unit related to texts … Continue reading

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Skip the Book Report! Analyze and Create Instead!

After finishing a novel reading, whether whole group or individual, it’s great to have an activity to wrap up.  While book reports and other retelling projects, are a common choice, especially when dealing with multiple or student selected books, they … Continue reading

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Skip the Book Report: Try these Creative Projects Instead

Book Reports area  common sight, still, in many classrooms, including secondary classes.  They’re easy to implement, for both whole-class reading, but also for the increase in small-group or individual book choice selections. In fact, book reports (and their close cousin, … Continue reading

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Ways to Group Students (and when to use which)

Group work is a regular activity in many secondary classrooms.  It offers many benefits, including collaboration and cooperation.  Students show increased learning in well-structured group work, related to the discussion of content and problem-solving.  There are also benefits in division … Continue reading

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5 Activities for Studying Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” Speech

Most secondary students are familiar with the speech, or at least the main idea, by the time they are in a secondary ELA classroom.  And that’s actually an advantage.  That means that additional study can scaffold on what they already … Continue reading

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A Fresh Start for Second Semester (for year-long or new classes)

Second semester is a dividing point in many secondary classrooms.  More so if the second semester class is separate from first semester.  Maybe you have new students from schedule changes or adjustments around semester-based classes.  Maybe it’s a whole new … Continue reading

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The Value of Teacher Mistakes

Growth mindset.  It’s okay to fail.  Grit.  There’s a lot of talk these days about helping students to make mistakes, to try things and fail, to persevere.  And these are definitely important lessons for our students. But they’re also important … Continue reading

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