Thursday, June 4, 2015

Learn Like a Pirate Book Study

“Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.”
--Augustine of Hippo

Have you ever wondered what a student-led classroom would look like? Me too! I have ideas of how I want my room to run. I see them on dvds or videos that they play at PD courses, but I want one too!  So far, this book has given me some ideas, only by the first few pages!
Burgess said, “Resistance is a natural response to new ideas and methods.” OMG! Yes. Not just in my school, but the kids resist, and I resist. It’s so easy to pull out the worksheets. It’s so easy to put them on the computer to do another cool program I found, but what’s the sense. They are just practicing, not applying.

He also said that if you have a consistent message and belief then you can attain that kind of classroom.  That’s good news, especially for me. I’m going into my third year of teaching this year. So, I have a lot of ideas in my head, but the management part still lacks in some areas. 

He mentions a way that he blocks off the time in his room, which I’m sure we will continue to learn about.  He does a mini lesson about the concept, they do collaborative work and then they have time to reflect or synthesize. I just read another book called Teaching with Intention that said the same thing. Students need that reflection time. 

I had a period of time for reflection my first year of teaching, but they had certain activities to complete. They could write in their journal, read, practice math facts, or work on classwork to catch up. Well, that was fine, but that’s not what the type of reflection I want the kiddos to have substance. 
PLAN!!! My head is already wheeling. I’m thinking about different ways to reflect now, and how I want my kids to think more about if they understand their concepts and how much they understand them. I’m thinking of implementing rubrics on their work rather than just a simple grading system. It’s more work for me up front and for the grading portion, but I think it will be more meaningful for my kiddos. They will have a self-reflection piece to fill in, and I will fill one in, and then I’ll take a handful of kids and talk it over with them. 

Environment. Last year, I admit, I got into a not so good habit. I raised my voice and used sarcasm. Ughh! I know. I was that “mean” teacher, but the environment that the students had previously had was that they could do whatever they wanted. A new team of teachers, to a new school, with new admin, we did what we could to break the old habit they were used to. It was one of “those” years. I want need to be more supportive and focus on the socio-emotional piece this year if I want this to work. 

PLAN!!! Our school is going to reshift our behavioral systems and environment by using restorative practices. I’ll know more about this in about a month, but for now, I’m seeing it as more as a Responsive Classroom approach. I’m going to refresh myself with conflict resolution practices, so that we can work it out in the classroom. In 4th grade we have a lot of issues with dating, talking about each other, and more! So, this will be a handy tool to have. Morning meeting the first few weeks will be all about team building and social awareness. I skipped that this school year, and I regretted it every day. I also want my kids’ thinking to be the prominent focus. I want them to see me model thinking, and when they aren’t quite there yet, I want to encourage them—not shoot them down.

Cliff notes version:
This chapter really said that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to reaching the goal of having a student led classroom. Students need to feel safe and secure to know that it’s ok to explore and lead even without having all of the answers. Teachers really need to know where their beliefs are and what they want to accomplish in their room. Then think of what procedures it will take to get there.

I’m so excited. Check out some of the other blogs who are Learning like a Pirate! Leave a comment below with ideas on how to make the transition to a student led classroom smoother! 


  1. Great post, Cindy! Thanks for linking up!!! :)

    1. Thanks for having me! I am enjoying this book. I really needed to read it this summer!

  2. I really appreciated reading your post Cindy! I look forward to next week's as well!

    1. Thanks Mr. Solarz! I am exciting to dive into it more. :)

    2. Please call me Paul! I get enough of that Mr. Solarz stuff at school! :)