Author Archives: msdickson

Wrap-Up the Year with Real-World Writing

The end of the school year can make it challenging to hold students’ attention. The end is in sight and focus dwindles. Real-world writing is a great way to keep attention and engagement up. There’s no question of “when will … Continue reading

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Ways to Work Around State Testing and Other Disruptions

State and other testing often means disrupted schedules for a period of time. It may include alternate school days, make-up days, or other issues. This is compounded in multi-grade classrooms. Plus, there is a shift in focus from the current … Continue reading

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Skip the Romance: Study the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

Valentine’s Day in the secondary classroom is a far cry from candy and card exchanges. The emphasis on romance can put a lot of pressure on students– students in relationships may feel pressure to make the day special and students … Continue reading

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Culminating Activities For Use With “The Raven”

Culminating projects are a good way to engage students in digging deeper into a text. “The Raven” is a good text for engaging reluctant readers, with the dark tone and descent into madness. Here are some culminating projects for “The … Continue reading

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The Best Part of Back to School

I’ve always looked forward to back to school. From those early school days– including the first day at Kindergarten when I jumped off the bus steps in my joy– to, well, this year.  The classrooms have changed. The students are … Continue reading

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How to Waste Students’ Time with Binders and Notebooks

Binders, notebooks, interactive notebooks, portfolios and other tools can provide a method to showcase student learning, collect reference materials and teach organization. Or they can be a time-consuming process that fails to do more than provide a sporadic grade. Here’s … Continue reading

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How to Plan for Back to School… When You Don’t Know What You’re Teaching

Summer is a great opportunity for teachers to rest, relax… and prepare for next year.  The more that can be prepared ahead of time, the more likely class will run smoothly.  There will be less last-minute lesson planning– and more … Continue reading

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Activities to Teach “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka.

It’s a cultural reference.  It relates to a sudden and unexpected change– something teenagers can usually relate to.  It’s an odd and dystopic story.  Any one of these things make “The Metamorphosis” a good choice.  Even if the language is … Continue reading

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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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