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Paul Dixon

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Paul Dixon last won the day on January 23

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  • Location
    Fletcher, NC
  • Favorite Authors
    William Faulkner
  • School Name
    Veritas Christian Academy

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  1. Paul Dixon

    Can We Rehabilitate the Lecture?

    I think the best answer here is that there is room for both. I've had a lot of success with round table discussions and I've also experienced some failure, and the failure usually comes when the students arrive ill-read or when I haven't prepared quite enough to answer every question thoroughly. Similarly, lectures can be a fantastic means of imparting information and, perhaps more importantly, a way for the teacher to share her passion for the subject. Or, lectures can be incredibly boring and push students away from the discipline. Both methods require the teacher to bring his best every day, and therein lies the struggle for most of us.
  2. Paul Dixon

    Literature Teachers!

    Some of Edgar Allan Poe's stories are quick to read and provide some good opportunities for analysis. Anything by Flannery O'Connor would be relatively easy to grasp, and her stories can work on many levels. But, I'd love to hear from middle school teachers who think about these grade levels more often than I do.
  3. Paul Dixon

    Can We Rehabilitate the Lecture?

    This is a great point. I love round-table discussions as much as anyone, but only when the students are well-prepared for them. I've found that these discussions work the best with a well-prepared leader (teacher or student) guiding the discussion without chasing any rabbits. I don't want to waste anyone's time, and, unfortunately, I've observed some round-tables that resulted in a whole lot of nothing being accomplished.
  4. Paul Dixon

    Literature Teachers!

    While I don't teach literature for our Logic school, I am helping with an overhaul of our Logic literature curriculum. What books do you teach to your Logic School students? Right now we have staples like Lord of the Flies and Tom Sawyer that work well for this age group. What books have worked for you, and which ones haven't?
  5. Paul Dixon

    How to jump start your classes after a break

    Yes, I struggle as well. Our first week back is usually a little slower than normal, but I think it's good to get the students warmed up a bit before diving back in. That's some good advice about taking lots of breaks. I've tried that here and there this week and it seems to help them stay focused.
  6. Now that Christmas is past and you're getting back into your routines and thinking about the next semester, what are some ways that you approach the first day back from Christmas break? The beginning of the year normally holds its own kind of excitement that doesn't need any prompting and the day after spring break is seasoned with a certain amount of relief because the days are warming and the end of the year is in sight, but the first days of January are still cold and dark. How do you bring excitement to your classes so that the students feel energized and ready to tackle a new semester?
  7. Paul Dixon

    Reading Recharge

    I always reach for fiction before anything else, so I've picked up A Tale of Two Cities to read over the break. It's one I've not gotten around to over the years. I simply want my students to read something, anything over the break. I encourage them to read what is enjoyable to them. Unfortunately, there isn't much of a reading-for-pleasure amongst the students at my school, but I'm trying to change that.
  8. Paul Dixon

    Teaching History - Primary Sources

    I try to incorporate both approaches to primary sources: short snippets and extended versions. Indeed, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" gives a poor picture of Edwards if you don't read it until the end. A couple of years ago, I assigned an excerpt of that sermon for homework. The next day, the students were horrified at the harshness until we read aloud the last page or so of the sermon. I used it as a lesson to urge my students to take the entirety of a source in context rather than in sound bites. That said, I've always struggled with finding the time to really dwell on a primary source. It always feels like I'm being pushed into the next event or era because there's so much that is important!
  9. Paul Dixon

    Literature Catechism

    This is my first year to use a catechism in my classes, and I've written one for 10th grade Western Literature and 11th grade American Literature. I have my students read the full catechism aloud and together three days a week, and they are not required to memorize it, nor will they be tested on it. Now that we're through the first half of the year, I can honestly say this is the best decision I've made as a teacher. I first learned of using a catechism from Joshua Gibbs's Great Books course on Classical U, and at first I was skeptical. But, it's rewarding to begin a unit on Transcendentalism and when I ask the class to define the literary movement, they can recite a brief definition listing the main characteristics of Transcendentalism without skipping a beat. I must say, I'm a believer in this pedagogical tool. To those of you who use catechisms, how successful are they for you and your classes?
  10. Paul Dixon

    Teaching History - "Reading Like a Historian"

    I used this resource recently when discussing the Stamp Act. I found it very helpful to have several relevant documents compiled along with the lesson plan on guiding the students. I think it aligns with our goals as classical educators because it encourages students to contextualize the documents and the authors. I'm constantly pushing my students to adopt a historical perspective so they can empathize with people in the past. Any resource that helps with this goal is useful.
  11. Paul Dixon

    American Literature Texts

    We discussed the banning of the book at the beginning, but they didn't seem too concerned with it after that. I completely agree that he was displaying racism in the book as a means of denouncing it. Huck's struggles with recognizing Jim as a human being are especially powerful. It's a beautiful work, and I enjoyed teaching it.
  12. Paul Dixon

    Shakespeare Festival Tomorrow

    This is fantastic! Gruesome for sure, but so is the play, so I'd say it's appropriate!
  13. Paul Dixon

    Bible/Theology Curriculum

    My school has recently adopted a new approach to this question, and it consists of continuing their understanding of the Biblical story with some practice of interpretation thrown in along the way. We've shifted to teaching our students how to read the Bible as a sacred literary work, so they're learning to understand how figurative language is used in the Bible and why understanding that language is important to our interpretation. I'm not the theology teacher, but it seems to be going well with our Logic School students. From what I hear, this approach has encouraged discussion and contemplation on a level that is impressive for students of that age. As a literature teacher, I appreciate this approach because it well prepares them for interpreting the works we read for my class!
  14. I'm not sure if you're still looking for a solution, but our school uses Sign-up Genius. It seems to work well.
  15. Paul Dixon

    How do you keep school at school?

    I find that as I become more familiar with my subjects, the job becomes more comfortable. So I'm not nearly as meticulous in my planning because I have more knowledge to draw from. Teaching is a skill that must be honed in practice, so it just takes time. That said, I don't think there is any job worth the sacrifice of your family. It was much easier to spend hours and hours on school work before I had kids, but now that I have a toddler and another baby due in February, I've been much more efficient in the hours at school and only take home readings for the next day (I'm a literature and history teacher) and the occasional batch of essays to grade. For any teacher, I think we have to find the right balance for us and our families because there just isn't enough time in the day to do it all.
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