Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Teach Like a Pirate - Rapport/Ask & Analyze

Thoughts about...

Since  I'm visiting in Texas right now I actually got a chance to be with my dad on Father's Day. I didn't post to the book study so I'm doubling up today.

I can think back to my own experience as a student and there were definitely teachers I worked extra hard for because I really liked them and wanted to please them. I can also think of a couple of examples that were just the opposite. I don't really think in my case the difference was them getting to know me but I could certainly see where this would help.

Each year I start out with a student survey that asks about them and their feelings about school. After reading this book I decided that this year I will do a short google form that asks more about hobbies and interests. I decided to do it as a form because the summary feature will help me easily see what are the most frequent responses.  I tried to think of things that I know are popular/available in our area. If you have other suggestion please let me know. You can grab a copy and tweak it for your class.

One of the best ways I have found to get to know a lot about my students has been to read their daily journal entries. For my homeroom students I read them as they come in each morning.  That works great and it gives me a chance to make a comment or ask them about things. This year was more of a challenge because I also have an afternoon class to read. They drop them off as they enter the door and I read them whenever I get a couple spare minutes. This is where I found out details of trip, interesting family bits, typical activities as well as special events. It really is like a treasure chest of information. I never really thought about trying to incorporate that into lessons. It kind of one of those duh moments. 

Last year I had a bunch of Taylor Swift fanatics between my two classes. The day after her local concert there were a wide variety of RED shirts scattered around the room. Luckily this one I was aware of and I was able to capitalize on their interest with a Taylor Swift talk sponsored by Scholastic

Our school PTO sponsors an event a couple of times a year called Reel Readers. This is were 4th & 5th grade students read a book that has been turned into a movie. They stay after to school to briefly discuss the book and then watch the movie. There is no expectation that teachers will attend but I think it is a great thing to do together. I'm convinced that I've had better participation because 
of my involvement. In past years we have also gone to the theater as a class (after school) to see a book that we have read in school. Some of course have been better than others but even the ones way off from the book lead to great discussion. One that particularly comes to mind is City of Ember - what were they thinking? 

WOW, I want to go hang out in Dave Burgess's room for the first 3 days. It sounds like a sight to behold. I definitely don't prescribe to the don't smile until Thanksgiving/Christmas philosophy and I try to have a fun time getting to know the kids but boy it's nothing compared to introducing his learning extravaganza.  I don't teach in a tough school as a matter of fact most of our kids are very compliant but I still need to give some thought into what I want to do for our first few days this year. Some of the things I have done a while I really enjoy (like our we're back snack and Name-o) and other things I started last year (like saving Feed and puzzle races)  are definitely keepers. Last year I bought play dough for a writing activity that we never did so I want to add that one in. It certainly has my wheels turning. For a bunch of years I have done a multiple intelligences activity from Peter H Reynold's North Star classroom program. I'm excited that now there is an app that I can have them rotate through and then they can mark there results in the survey.

I liked this quote near the end of the section "I'm selling education...a life-altering product that can transform the human spirit and literally change the world one student at a time. Surely, such a product is worthy or any and all efforts, techniques, and methods required to successfully persuade" He has a point there!

I agree wholeheartedly with the statement - "Creative inspiration is constantly at our disposal, but we will never see it unless we actively and consistently attempt to create." I have told many that I'm not creative, I don't have any artistic talent. While I will confirm that I'm not able to draw well at this time I do think I have an eye for things that are neat and I can recreate some pretty cool stuff with the computer and clip art. I also discovered last year that I can be pretty crafty if I am inspired. I'm a good problem solver once I get an idea about what I want to create. I always keep my eyes open for interesting ideas as I read blogs, browse pinterest, and generally carry on with life. 

One of his driving questions that I especially liked was "How can I make this lesson outrageously entertaining, engaging, and powerful so that my students will never forget it and will be desperate to come back for more?" I think the key is really being driven on a mission. Always on the hunt for some some treasure of an idea.

As far as systems to catch ideas, I have a few tools that work for me. Almost all of mine are technology driven. I certainly pin things and put them in Diigo, I put notes in Evernote and sometimes if I'm driving I may even record a thought with audio memo. I have a mind like a sieve so if I don't record it while I'm thinking of it, it could be lost forever. It also helps me let things go. When I get obsessed about pulling something together thoughts will come at all sorts of odd times and will play over and over in my mind until I can let it go.

I thought the idea of creative alchemy was so on target. I found another quote in this section that I marked. "Exploring the world and your passions allows you to bring a new perspective and energy into the classroom. It allows you to become a powerful role model for students. We always say we want them to become life-ling learners, so we must show them what it looks like."

 It all has me thinking... which is a great thing. Check out other's thoughts and add your own by clicking below.


  1. Hi Heather,
    Thanks for such a thoughtful post. I loved the quotes you pulled out...some of my favorites! So I'm guessing you'd like to see the plane crash and floor swimming!!
    Looking forward to reading your thoughts on the rest of the book.

  2. What a GREAT post Heather! I love the survey you're going to have your kids complete and I'm SO ready to download the app you have listed too!