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Lesson Plan

Dialect Detectives: Exploring Dialect in Great Expectations

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Dialect Detectives: Exploring Dialect in Great Expectations

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Six 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Patrick Striegel

Patrick Striegel

Tolono, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English


Materials and Technology






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  • Poets.org

    The Academy of American Poets’ website offers a wide variety of resources on poetry, as well as copies of both poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar, “We Wear the Mask” and “When Malindy Sings.”

  • Voki

    This website allows its users to create customized talking avatars.  This service can be used for the culminating dialect activity.  For a small yearly charge, a teacher can receive up to 200 student accounts for 10 classes.

  • "Incorporating Dialect Study into the Language Arts Class"

    This article gives the reader some excellent background information about dialects and their place in a language arts classroom.

  • "Teaching About Dialects"

    This article has information about dialects and their place in a general education classroom.

  • Teaching Dickens: A Masterpiece Guide

    This link connects you do a PDF version of a PBS Teaching Guide about various Dickens books.  This guide does not discuss exclusively Great Expectations, however it does offer background information on Dickens and general lesson plans.

  • PBS: Great Expectations

    This website offers a video preview and three video-based lessons that could be used as an extension to this lesson.  Using video clips from Great Expectations, English Lit classrooms can compare and contrast the film with the book, learn about the moral underpinnings of the work, and explore Dickens's writing process.

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  1. Make the appropriate amount of copies of the handouts (Great Expectations Dialect, “When Malindy Sings”, “We Wear the Mask”, Dialect Exit Slip ,Voki Dialect Checklist, Voki Dialect Rubric, and the Venn Diagram printout).
  2. Read "Incorporating Dialect Study into the Language Arts Class" to get some excellent background information about dialects and their place in a language arts classroom.
  3. Make sure the computer speakers work and are loud enough for the entire class to hear the audio recordings clearly.
  4. Reserve time in your school’s computer lab for use.
  5. Sign up for an account at Voki Classroom and request the number of student accounts you need. (NOTE: You can have up to 200 accounts. Voki will generate user names and passwords for your student accounts.) Assign each student an account.
  6. Become familiar with Voki.  Read the Getting Started Guide and the Voki Classroom User Guide.  Use the How to Make a Voki printout and practice the steps of making an avatar and create a sample.  If desired, create a sample Voki that introduces the project to the class.  This can be shown on the first day of the project.  Sample avatars can be found on the website.

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