Thursday, March 17, 2016

Observations from a Teach Like a Pirate Project

A book study I facilitated on "Teach Like a Pirate" just ended with each participant sharing their final project. For their final project, they had to create a "pirate" lesson for their students and then tell us about it at our last session. If you do not know what I mean when I say "Pirate Lesson" than please go read the book "Teach Like a Pirate." Here are a few observations I made while listening to all of these "pirate" lessons. 

Rarely did I see kids sitting in their desks. Students were up and moving around. Being active and getting involved. They were exploring and thinking. There was a lot of pretending going on. Students were pretending to be all sorts of things--college kids at a coffee shop reading, detectives at a crime scene, lyric writers, football players, characters from books, victims of social injustice, businessman trying to sell their idea on shark tank and the list goes on. Simulations allow kids to get immersed in the learning and apply what they know. Giving students the opportunity to have fun and pretend connects the learning to emotion and that's when it sticks.  There were many props being used. I am a huge believer in props. It adds so much to the environment and atmosphere of the classroom. It turns a boring room into an experience! Lamps, shark heads, football cards, dragons, army men, ping pong balls, empires, etc. Lots of these lessons incorporated music. There were hooks all over the place! Mystery tugs at the emotions of students and gets them to "buy in" to what's happening. Students get curious and can't help but want to know what is going on! Withholding information is a powerful way to draw students in. Give them a little bit and they will beg to know the rest of the story! One interesting thing I noticed was the amount of money it takes to teach like a pirate, in some cases. Pirate teachers are willing to spend some of their hard earned money to create experiences for students. A credit to them! However, Pirate teachers also know how use what they have and transform it into what they want to do. They can take something that is really easy to get a lot of, let's say Dixie cups, and use that creatively somehow. 
It was a blast getting to hear about all the great things going on throughout these classrooms. A truly inspiring moment!  

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