In Learn Like a PIRATE, teachers will discover practical strategies for creating a student-led classroom in which students are inspired and empowered to take charge of their learning experience. You'll learn strategies for:
- Crafting active, relevant, and interesting lessons
- Creating opportunities for student leadership
- Providing effective and beneficial feedback
- Instilling confidence so students can take risks
- Increasing curiosity and passion for learning
Incorporate the techniques and strategies Paul Solarz uses in his student-led classroom and watch your students transform into confident, collaborative leaders!
Learn Like a PIRATE has been divided into six main sections:
- Peer Collaboration builds community and supports teamwork and cooperation.
- Improvement-focused learning challenges students to constantly strive to be their best.
- Responsibility for daily tasks builds ownership in the classroom.
- Active learning turns boring lessons into fun and memorable experiences.
- Twenty-first century skills engage students now and prepare them for their futures.
- Empowerment allows students to become confident risk-takers who make bold decisions.
These are the main strategies explained in each:
1. Peer-to-Peer Collaboration:
- Introductory explanation of our classroom (differences, powers, expectations, beliefs)
- The power to interrupt the class: GIVE ME FIVE! (Uh oh!)
- Classroom Meetings (Marble Theory, Active vs. Passive Leadership, The Right Kind of Competition...)
- Conflict Resolution (Rock, Paper, Scissors - Think Win-Win - Choose Kind)
- Empathy (Wonder)
- Choice in work space
- Assigned partnerships (sticks)
- Responsibility Partners
2. Improvement Focus vs. Grade Focus
- Nothing is graded (well, almost nothing)
- Report Cards
- Feedback, Improvement, Revision, Failure, Asking for help...
- ePortfolios (Blog Posts with reflections)
- "Tell Me More"
- Quality Boosters
- Homework Club
- Posting the day's schedule (Transitions, laptop cart, academic reminders)
- Assigned Jobs vs. Collaborative Responsibility (Supplies, Phone, Transitions, Classroom Needs, Help)
- Rituals (MOTIVATIONAL) (Lit Circles, Math, Shared Reading, Mystery Skype, Passion Time, Collab. Resp.)
- Routines (WORK) (Morning Check-In, REARJMCL, Assigned Jobs)
- Silent Day!
- Mini Lessons (Teacher and Student Led)
4. Active Learning
- Project-Based Learning (PBL) (Revolutionary War Hero Project)
- Purposeful Technology Integration
- Reader's Theater
- Mysteries/Problems to Solve, Puzzles, Challenges...
- Passion Time
- Maker Spaces
5. Twenty-First Century Skills
- The 4 C's and Reflection (Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Creativity)
- 34 total skills we focus on - 21st Century Skills Progress Report
- Backwards Planning using this grid
- Focus of feedback is on 21st Century Skills
When teachers empower students, the result is a higher enjoyment of learning, which leads to more motivation to work hard, which often leads to stronger achievement in class. In addition, students transfer their learning more successfully to new situations and develop the skills necessary to succeed in our constantly evolving society. But empowerment isn’t just something you do. Yes, introducing projects that allow students to expand their thinking and explore their passions is important. Providing students with opportunities to make decisions and lead is critical. Real empowerment, however, comes not from activities, but from belief. As a teacher, your foundational beliefs will guide your classroom and do more to shape your students’ lives than any activity ever could. I encourage you to consider each of the following beliefs. Are they part of your current teaching philosophy? If so, terrific! Your students likely already feel as if they are an important part of the classroom crew. If not, why not? Perhaps you’ve never thought about how choice or resilience could be taught or how and why to make students the experts. If one of these core beliefs hasn’t been on your radar, I hope you’ll be open to a new way of thinking. Because for ill or good, what you believe comes through loud and clear to your students. Here are some ways I empower my students:
- Positive Self-Worth