Summer Book Study Blog

Summer Book Study Blog

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Learn Like a Pirate - What is a Student-Led Classroom?

I am starting the Learn Like a Pirate, book study a few days late sponsored by Primary Gal. I heard about it through my following of the blog, Runde's Room. I looked around to buy it, but because of having to wait more days, I decided to try the ebook through Amazon. It will be hard to read and not mark the margins of my book with my thoughts. I am a "pen in hand" reader of PD books. However, I did find the highlighting and notes features on my kindle app. Might like this a lot after all! Excited to collaborate with this new community of learners! 

I had to smile as I read that author, Paul Solarz, has taught for more than 15 years, as I have taught MUCH MUCH MORE than 15 years. I am definitely "an old pirate learning new tricks," a "world-changing" teacher. I'm rowing hard to catch the wind of this journey with this fleet of sailing pirates!

Opening quote grabbed me, "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it." - Augustine of Hippo

I have read several books on "talking," collaborating classrooms where respect is a  #1 priority. Respect for each other and for all the adults working with them. I was excited to read that Paul is going to deal with conflict-management techniques that promote respect.

"A student-led classroom is one in which students make decisions and choices through the day without consulting the teacher." ARRRG! That is a scary one to imagine. A huge pause in trying to imagine, but I read on... "These decisions impact their own actions, the actions of others, and even the actions of the teacher." Decisions leading to impact. Intriguing thought that students learn that their actions carry impact in their learning. There is always lots of discussion on actions of behaviors affecting others and the consequences that these behaviors bring, but to bring this into the academics' arena with a positive implication for learning is exciting to imagine. I'm hooked (...Captain Hook)!

"The curricular objectives don't change - the method does." I have read, studied, and used Fisher and Frey's, GRE - Gradual Release of Responsibility in my classroom for several years and believe there will be some similarities. In GRE, the teacher models (mini-lesson), we (teacher and students) practice together (Guided Practice), students work together in groups (Collaborative Group Work), students work independently ( Independent Work). Paul's mini-lesson is followed by active learners guiding the learning set forth by the mini-lesson. Passive learners are not passionate learners. Learning becomes a chore. There's no joy.

"...lots of instruction and practice must take place." This is critical and one that I will have to slow down my enthusiasm to "set sail" without doing the front-loading of all the preparation needed before embarking on this exciting journey. "Every day, teachers need to provide learning opportunities for students to practice the necessary skills until they become habits."

Feedback on positive decisions and supportive feedback when negative decisions are made are important prerequisites to establishing routine and feelings of safety in the classroom to be a thinker and a doer. This shows students that you are there as their biggest supporter and not just a "Captain Hook" to reprimand and control their thinking . At my school, positive energy is part of our school goal. Quotes are everywhere about positive thinking and positive energy and how it affects us all. "I am the positive energy to my students' success." Students can spread this positive energy to each other. "I am the positive energy to my peers' success." What an important mindset that will affect family (present and future), school years ahead, future career, and life!

"When children feel happy and safe at school, they're willing to work hard for their teachers. And hard-working students are what it's going to take to create a successful student-led classroom!" I'm hooked! 

However, I do plan to continue brushing my teeth, as "pirates have green teeth" because they don't brush. (from How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long) :)

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