Summer Book Study Blog

Summer Book Study Blog

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Learn Like a Pirate Chapter 8: Empowerment

Another "empowering" chapter on a student-led classroom.
This chapter could be summed up with the following five words from a chapter subtitle:
Empowerment = Enjoyment = Motivation = Effort = Achievement

Favorite highlights of chapter 8:

  • Passion Projects and their planning
  • Essential Question - PHAT Questions (Pretty Hard and Tough)
  • New technology uses for planning...Trello Board
  • Presenting options of making sure everyone gets feedback - important section to ensure that students present and receive feedback without spending days and days on presentations.
  • Student "Ted Talks" written, practiced, videoed, and presented on YouTube
  • Students must feel safe - explaining good days and bad days and that they are always loved.

Learn Like a Pirate Chapter 8: Empowerment


Another "empowering" chapter on a student-led classroom.
This chapter could be summed up with the following five words from a chapter subtitle:
Empowerment = Enjoyment = Motivation = Effort = Achievement

Favorite highlights of chapter 8:

  • Passion Projects and their planning
  • Essential Question - PHAT Questions (Pretty Hard and Tough)
  • New technology uses for planning...Trello Board
  • Presenting options of making sure everyone gets feedback - important section to ensure that students present and receive feedback without spending days and days on presentations.
  • Student "Ted Talks" written, practiced, videoed, and presented on YouTube
  • Students must feel safe - explaining good days and bad days and that they are always loved.

An InLinkz Link-up

Friday, July 17, 2015

Learn Like a Pirate Chapter 7: Twenty-First Century Skills

Chapter 7 was a treasure-trove of important life-skills, goal setting, and ideas for moving students forward in 21st Century Skills to be prepared for their futures as students and responsible, well-equipped adults for a successful life. I had lots of pauses and thoughts as Paul broke the skills out and was validated on ones that I currently employ and reminded of those that I don't.

I was especially interested and focused on the sections on goal-setting. I've been doing weekly goal setting around smaller goals and more intense goal setting after each of our three NWEA testing results. I plan to bring in the 21st Century Skills this year. My parents have been involved in the past, but I think that letting them know about the 21st Century Skills it will bring a bigger impact into all our lives. Preparing for the future shouldn't be left to chance. Parents don't always know how to help their child and appreciate being informed.

Reflection was another chapter focus for me. I have highlighted the steps that Paul uses with his students. "Reflection doesn't only happen in writing at the end of a learning process. In our class, students learn to be metacognitive in their thinking. ...they develop an awareness of their progress at all times...ask them to answer questions about what they're thinking, assess their progress, identify potential struggles, and make plans..."

Planning the year in advance is also something that I NEED to do. This year I am only teaching Lang. Arts to two different sections of 4th graders. I also have a section of high ability LA students. Seeing how specific Paul was with the 21st Century Skills and the curriculum components gave me a sample for how this could look for me. The 4th graders teachers work as a strong, united team, and I will share this with them.

Another great chapter for me to do some creative and critical thinking, collaboration and communication with my peers and my students, and to keep the 21st Century Skills on the front burner as I plan. D :)


Friday, July 10, 2015

Learn Like a Pirate Chapter 6: Active Learning


"We know students learn best by doing. Fortunately, the best learning method is also incredibly fun -- for students and teachers!" Paul begins chapter 6 by stating the facts about "learning by doing."

This chapter on active learning was a great reminder for what I have dabbled with in the past. I've tried almost all of these including a debate of 2 teams of "lawyers" with REAL parent lawyers serving as judges. So exciting! Parent volunteers can really be an asset!

About the science section, we have a guest dentist (personal friend) that comes to our classroom to dissect a rat under a document camera that projects LARGE to the screen. He brings rubber gloves for the students to hold and touch body parts. Writing a real lab report on the body systems of a rat were "fun" after being involved actively. Students took pictures and tweeted. The lab reports were incredible and as we shared these google docs with the "rat dentist," he encouraged students into the medical fields. This gave us a public audience. Parents were also elated with this strong academic experience. It is a highlight of the year in my classroom. Ask your personal care providers. You never know what skills they have that might be an active learning opportunity that supports our science and health standards.

I also have used collaborative online tools for team discussions on a driving question that involves research and some argumentative passion. In the past, I used "gotomeeting" but now it is only free for a 30 day trial. There are lots of options for this including google drive and hangouts. This Kathy Schrock site gives lots of educator options.
http://www.schrockguide.net/online-student-collaboration.html

Paul nails it when he says, "Technology helps turn ordinary learning into extraordinary fun. And the whole time children are working with these technology tools, they are collaborating and helping each other problem-solve. Those results seem worthwhile to me!" Seems worthwhile to me, too! D :)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Learn Like a Pirate Chapter 5: Responsibility

This summer I am participating in 4 online book studies and learning so much from the texts and other teachers. The interesting thing is that all 4 books are adding to each other in my own thinking and learning. Besides Learn Like a Pirate, I am reading and sharing Teaching with the brain in mind by Eric Jensen, 2nd Edition, School Culture Rewired-How to Define, Assess, and Transform It by Steve Gruenert & Todd Whitaker, and What Connected Educators Do Differently by Todd Whitaker, Jeffrey Zoul, and Jimmy Casas. I am making many text-to-text connections. :)

Chapter 5: Responsibility
This is a professional life-changing chapter! I can see that I try to keep control to the expense of my own organization and keeping my students from stepping-up into life-changing aspects of building personal responsibility. I plan to re-read this chapter and make "cheat sheets" on how I can release responsibility to my students to free-up myself. I spend way too much time at school doing things my students could have done. 

Silent-Day was intriguing. I found the website links (I'm reading the e-book version) to be so helpful. Hearing students explain "REARMJCL" gave clarity to how this looks. I will use this video to share with my students.

I can't say enough about "sharing the load" and creating responsible, collaborative, and supportive students. I will probably be in and out of this blog entry as I absorb and reflect more on all this chapter had to offer.

I am moving tomorrow so off to packing, but I'm sure this chapter will resonate in my brain. Wish I had a student-led classroom to help me with all this work!
D :)



The inLinkz code is:

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Learn Like a Pirate - Ch. 4 - Improvement Focus vs. Grade Focus

This chapter has rocked my "pirate ship"! I truly believe in the "improvement focus vs. the grade focus," but grades are part of district, school, and parental expectations. I have highlighted so much in this chapter to think about in the next 6 weeks before a new school year begins. 

"Assessment and feedback, rather than a focus on grades, pushes students toward constant growth." 
This quote validated how I use feedback in my classroom. Just this year, I started using the Google Classroom. I can grade and send feedback that students DID read and then revised and resubmitted. My students are using the "share" feature in google docs, slides, etc. and commenting back and forth with me and each other. Students are actually asking for feedback on their work. 

"Why are we so focused on finality that we have to assign a summative grade to everything?"
This past year there were numerous project/presentations where there was less emphasis on a grade and more on the learning. Class discussions: "What did you learn from your project and each other's projects?" Science and social studies were the areas that I used project-based and group learning the most. Grade level discussions around giving students report card grades that were Satisfactory, Improving, or Needs improvement were vetoed to continue with traditional letter grades in science and social studies. Disappointed.

"My feedback comes with no strings attached. I've earned my students' respect by demonstrating that I genuinely care about them and their progress, so they listen when I share insights and offer instruction."
I noted that there was no iPad or clipboard as he gave feedback. My wonder, does Paul keep notes on students that would help him remember areas of weakness that might need addressed in small groups? Not sure I would always remember anecdotal observations with all 50 students that I see for lang arts. These notes are so helpful when I talk with parents. Perhaps I'm looking at this in a different way than Paul is suggesting. I do so believe in what the quote is suggesting. "Students won't care about what we know until they know how much we care," or something like that is a quote that I remember when working with students. Relationship is key. 


"Speaking in the past tense makes students feel as if there's no way to fix their mistake or failure. (What's done is done.) In contast, speaking in the present or future tense demonstrates that learning is a process." 
I love the examples of Say this: "Next time, I'd like you to do it this way because..." or, "Can you try this way instead?" Or, "Are you displaying good leadership skills right now, or could you do better?" This is constructive feedback that builds a students not negative feedback that breaks down a student. This is perhaps my favorite "walk away" from this chapter. I need to work on this one.

Improving Classroom Behavior
Set the expectation with the "Six Pillars of Character" by the Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.

Character Counts!
  1. Respect
  2. Responsibility
  3. Trustworthiness
  4. Fairness
  5. Caring
  6. Citizenship
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first
  4. Think Win-Win
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the saw
Identify the Consequences
Behavior Management System:
  1. A warning
  2. A behavior point
  3. A work-it-out
We have a current Positive-Based Behavior system that is similar already in place. What Paul has to say about how he uses this in his classroom gave me some clarification in improving how I manage this with my students. 

Boosters - Peer Feedback
  • Quality Booster
  • Compliments (Love the Quality Booster and Compliment Sandwich for peer feedback!) 
  • Write your suggestion as a question rather than a statement. "You don't seem superior to them if you're just wondering something!"
Student views on feedback were illuminating at the end of the chapter. 

This was a great chapter with lots of pauses to really think about what I believe and what I practice in my classroom. 

Sail on, mateys!
D :)



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Learn Like a PIRATE: Peer Collaboration - Chpt. 3

Have to admit I was more than a little excited to read the title of Chpt. 3 - Peer Collaboration! LOVE seeing students interacting and learning from and with each other. Makes my heart smile and sing (maybe a sea chantey)!

"Two brains are smarter than one!...Collaboration allows us to know more than we are capable of knowing by ourselves." I love the way Paul starts this chapter and leads into "WE'RE IN THIS TOGETHER." I plan to make this a banner across the top of my whiteboard, "We're not just a class; we're a crew! We're in this together! We are a company of workers and a family." 

"Give me five!" is something I say often in my classroom to get attention. I can't imagine a student saying this, and yet, I can't imagine one of them hasn't. This is definitely something that I want to hear and am excited to read on to see how Paul sets this up to work with students stopping and listening to the "give me five" person. "The power to interrupt the class is one of the most important aspects of a student-led classroom." Model, encourage, give feedback. The examples he gives are happening in my classroom (except moving desks around in 1 minute 8 seconds (Impressive!), just not encouraged. I can do this. They will catch on! 

"Students lead when they believe the teacher would appreciate their help, not when the teacher is completely in charge." This reminds me of "Be the guide on the side not the sage on the stage." I have to smile as I think about the times of the day when they take care of me by remembering what I am forgetting. I do appreciate when they help with the running of the classroom. This past year I let them do more than I have in the past and it did free me up some extra time to work with groups or one-on-one, but now I'm thinking of all the things they could do on their own from the beginning of the day through the end. I just hope there isn't a job chart. I am horrible with those. If so, I'll pass it on to the students to do. :)

Today I was at a district retreat dealing with school culture. There were several questions that we discussed about empowering students to have ownership of their learning, creating students that are problem-solvers and thinkers, and students with 21st Century skills. My mind kept coming back to LLAP! It was all I could do to keep from saying "AARRRG!" I am also in an online study group for School Culture Rewired, our anchor text for the retreat, also speaks to much of LLAP with its student-led classroom. The whole afternoon was peer collaboration among the adults. I think I did a "give me 5" at one point. What we did, I've seen my students do. Collaborate, then share out. Easy, Peasy! 

Enjoying this book so much! 

Ahoy, matey! Sail on!
D :)