Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Teaching like a Pirate

When you are in the moment you do not realize time goes by. Today in our agent headquarters we were certainly living in the moment. Sixteen years into my careers, and I am still changing my teaching skills. Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a Pirate, has really given me the guts to create learning experiences for our students. Students have been engaged and excited about the work we are doing and the next thing we know it is time for dismissal.

This morning we delved into the architecture of pre-Columbian civilizations. We could have looked at pictures on the SMARTboard of various architectural structures, but I decided to make this lesson student centered as they respond better when they are directly involved in their learning. We began with a preview of the lesson.
·         What are architects?
·         What are the different types of buildings we have in Boston and what are their purposes? What clues do they give us about the people who work or live in them?
·         Students shared their ideas with neighbors.

When we got to the last question the room was silent! Can you believe that? I asked the students to tell us about things in their bedroom and we discussed what this reveals about them. Teddy has bunk beds so we figured out he shares a room. Claudia has a giant bean bag chair with stuffed animals she enjoys sitting in. By thinking about their bedroom they realized you can learn a lot about a person. They applied this knowledge to our work in class.

Students spent some time working in collaborative groups looking at photos of ancient architecture. They are tasked with identifying similarities and differences among the architectural structures and the people who lived or frequented them.
·         Were they wealthy or poor?
·         What might their jobs have been?
Their learning will be showcased by the creation of a poster that illustrates what Pre-Columbian structures have in common with modern day ones. Their poster will show us 
o   What do these structures reveal about ancient and modern civilizations.
o   What do we have in common with the Pre-Columbians?
o   How are we different?
o   Why do you think some structures have remained a part of civilizations throughout time?

Students happened to ask if they could print pictures to support their thinking. This led to a mini lesson on how to print pictures and pages off websites. Don’t you hate when you need to print out one page and 18 pages come flying out? How about the page that prints out with ads? Our students learned today you can print out one page or the image that you need. No paper wasting in our room! We also reviewed digital citizenship skills!

Writing turned into an interesting conversation when I asked students to use the margin. Several had no idea what that red line running down their paper was or that the holes on the paper were supposed to be on your left. Therefore we had a paper mini lesson and students were required to write their poem using the margin. You will receive the poem, and I am submitting them all to Hutch magazine. Speaking of which, we have a few agents being published in the winter issue. I look forward to our first Hutch assignment coming home in January. I love giving students an authentic reason to create! 

Our reading lesson was a HUGE hit! This particular week students read Inside Out. We spent a lot of time discussing themes and plot, talking about the change in the character. All groups did varying activities but the culminating activity was the same. They were asked to create a comic showing how the main character was like a butterfly. I taught them how to use Google Draw and showed them a site, Comic Master. Many were so excited you could make speech bubbles and show information in a new way! They had the choice to use paper or the tech tools. All chose the tech tools. Several said they were going to work on this at home. With a partner they created a new drawing and shared it so they could collaboratively get work done. The excitement and engagement in the room was electric! I cannot wait to see what they create! Nidya reminded us we can use the research tool to drag and drop images. We reviewed key word searching and digital citizenship. 


Some of you may have heard we created a bus out front of the school building. Dave Burgess suggests thinking about the best space for your lesson, and it might not always be your classroom! Teaching students bus etiquette today was the lesson for PBIS. Students were asked to line up with chairs. We walked through the building, and we got some curious stares. That did not stop of us from making that bus! We went outside and students put their chair on a square, forming a bus. We then reviewed bus safety, talking about how we show we care on the bus. We modeled expected and unexpected behaviors. The creation of the bus had a bigger impact on the agents then me presenting the information. I certainly was teaching like a pirate today!


  1. As you are courageously teaching like a pirate, our students are collecting the many treasures of the voyage! Thank you for that. For it is a priceless bounty!

    1. This takes guts that is for sure! However I am loving this year with the students. We are all learning together on this journey!