Author Archives: msdickson

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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Using the Grade Book for Data-Based Teacher Reflection {with Freebie}

The end of a term is a good place to pause and reflect as a teacher.  Maybe it’s the end of the semester, trimester, or even marking period.  Maybe you have most or all of the students again the next … Continue reading

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Culminating Project Ideas for A Christmas Carol

  A Christmas Carol is a timely text for Christmastime, though it can work in other places as well– especially given Scrooge’s new-found desire to “Keep Christmas all year.”  There are lots of options for related culminating projects to expand … Continue reading

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5 Ideas for Christmastime in the Secondary ELA Classroom

December is a challenging month.  Even in the secondary classroom.  There are only a few weeks, sandwiched between Thanksgiving and Christmas (Winter) Breaks.  Thanksgiving causes disruptions with a short week, or even a whole week off.  Then there are a … Continue reading

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5 Ways to Survive the Days Before Thanksgiving Break (And Still Engage in Learning)

Maybe you’ve managed to keep the momentum of learning and engagement up to this point.  You may have even survived Halloween— perhaps with some timely creepy stories.  But now, it’s November.  And there are breaks around the corner, tempting students … Continue reading

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Best of the Best: Real World Writing with the Company Project

Students are all types.  Some are into reading, others like to analyze and use that to get through literature.  Some are college bound and understand the concept of being “well-rounded.”  Then there are the others.  They may be college-bound, but … Continue reading

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6 Strategies to Survive Teaching Poetry

I’m not a big poetry fan.  Just like I’m not a big fan of fantasy novels, professional basketball games or anything coconut.  But as an English teacher, it’s kind of expected to include teaching poetry somewhere in the curriculum.  I … Continue reading

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