Author Archives: msdickson

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

Posted in Fun Projects, Secondary Education, Short Stories, Teaching Ideas | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Assessment, Secondary Education, Secondary Writing, Testing | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Assessment, Fun Projects, Secondary Education, Secondary Writing, Teaching, Teaching Ideas | 1 Comment

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

Posted in Secondary Education, Teaching, Teaching Ideas, Uncategorized | 2 Comments