Thursday, June 27, 2013

Teach Like a Pirate: Ch. 8 & Ch. 9

Oh. My. Goodness.
Words cannot express how beyond excited I am to be posting about these amazing chapters! I am so blessed to be able to participate in this book study with so many other wonderful bloggers! :)
This book, Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess, is phenomenal! If you have not read it, go purchase it now!
I will be discussing Chapter 8 AND Chapter 9 in today's post! I sure hope you will share your thoughts and comments below!
Chapter 8: A Crash Course in Presentational Hooks
Ok, so I'll admit that when I read the title of this chapter, I was already stoked. I love a good presentation! And that's what this chapter is about. Though it's brief, it gets the point across very well. It teaches us that we have to actively ask ourselves questions and be intentional in our ways of seeking information. The overall goal is to ultimately DRAW your students into the content being taught. Mr. Burgess suggests that by being more deliberate in considering certain questions when designing units/lessons, that you will be much more successful with using these ideas in your own lessons.
I love that Mr. Burgess mentioned his concern about being able to translate his way of teaching and being successful into text and ways that other educators would be able to use it. I think we all, as educators, share that fear sometimes. We know what works for US in our OWN classrooms, but we sometimes doubt how others are going to perceive our ideas or styles. He then proceeded to give a wonderful example about teaching someone to play the guitar. He stated how they must first learn the basics of the guitar BEFORE they could choose an area of focus. This section is for teaching us, the educators, the basics before we can go off and adjust it to meet our specific needs.

It was made clear through this section that you have to be dedicated and you have to WANT to make a change in your presentations in class. If you don't have the motivation and drive to ask these questions and COLLABORATE with other colleagues, then you aren't setting yourself up for success.

We always talk about setting the students up for success but we also have to remember to do that for ourselves as well! I think this book study is a GREAT way to embark on that collaboration journey because there are so many individuals that we can reach out to and discuss with! I know that without my girl Tamara to collaborate with at school, my sanity would have been gone a long time ago. It's great to find people who think 99.9% the same way you do so that you CAN dive deep into questions and improve upon your teaching practice!

And before I move on to Chapter 9, I just had to share my favorite quote ever from a professional development book! LOVE it! I am certainly going to start "pimping" my lessons from now on!
Chapter 9: I Like to Move It, Move It
What a phenomenal chapter to get your wheels turning! As I read this chapter, I was certainly doing a lot of self reflecting! I realized that on some lessons this past year, I hit the mark but on others, I dropped the ball...and not in a good kinesthetic hook type of dropping the ball either! But hey, that's why we are all reading this book.. to reflect and improve upon our teaching!
The second sentence of this chapter really caught my attention. "The brain and body work best when receiving the flow of oxygen and blood; that doesn't happen when students spend their days sitting at a desk."
And let's go ahead and admit it...that we already knew that. But if you're like me, maybe you already knew that information but really needed some guiding on how to get better in that aspect! 
Well luckily, that's what this chapter addresses!
First was the Kinesthetic Hook focusing on changing your lessons from being... shall I dare say... boring? Yes, I shall say it because we have ALL taught lessons that were boring at one time or another! That's where the Kinesthetic Hook comes into play! Get those kiddos up and MOVING while they are LEARNING! It already sounds more fun to me as a teacher if my lessons are answering the questions Mr. Burgess poses in this section.
As I was reading about the Kinesthetic Hook, I was thinking about how great Kagan Cooperative Learning structures are for getting kids up and moving. Especially structures like Stand Up-Hand Up-Pair Up or One Stray. Those get kids out of their seat while doing something content related and gets that oxygen circulating!
The phonics program I use at school, Discover Intensive Phonics, has a kinesthetic element built in. Part of the program is to have students get out of their seats to practice their phonics skills on their white boards as I dictate the words. It also uses a two finger gesture for saying the words. I motion from my mouth out to them as I say the words, and then they repeat the motions while repeating the word back to me twice. I have seen that it works much better than teaching phonics in their seats with no hand gestures.
The Kinesthetic Hook questions are truly great and a page that I have bookmarked for future reference!
It's OK TO HAVE FUN! Say what?!? It's so hard sometimes to remember that. Now, I'm the type of teacher who LOVES to do things for fun whether it's dressing up, playing a new game, learning a new song/dance, etc. With that being said though, it's sometimes hard to get those FUN lessons in there with the demands on teachers nowadays with testing, new standards, RTI, and so much more! It's something we just can't leave out though! Even those "just for fun" lessons can end up teaching our precious students SO much!
As soon as I read this section and Mr. Burgess shared his example of teaching his class about Henry "Box" Brown, I thought about a song/dance that Tamara and I taught to our students this year. Mr. Burgess discussed how much learning he had seen taking place during that "fit in the box" lesson and I was so glad he included that.
Tamara and I spent hours one Wednesday afternoon, listening to the ever so popular "Gangnam Style" song and re-writing the lyrics. Why on earth did we do that you ask? We had a good reason! We wanted to teach our students a song and dance to a modern day song to get their interests sparked! We turned it into a song about VOWEL sounds to help them remember short and long vowel patterns. It sounds ridiculous I know, but the kids LOVED it. And what song do you think they were singing the ENTIRE 30 MINUTE trip back from our last field trip? You got it! OUR class version of the song! So did they have fun? YES. Did they learn something content related? YES. Did they have to practice their coordination to learn the dance moves? YES.
So in the end, I feel that Tamara and I were very successful with our "Just for fun" activity!
And as a bonus, you can click the picture below to check us out singing the song! Go easy on us though, it was our first run through! :)
The People Prop Hook
I have to admit that I could definitely use some work in this area. I will certainly be referencing these guiding questions many more times in the future!
As I read through the guiding questions for the People Prop Hook, I was thinking particularly about a phonics lesson I did several times this year to practice various phonics rules. I call it Act-A-Word. I did it both with giant flashcards as well as iPads. For example, I would have the students open up an app called EduCreations where it has a blank whiteboard appearance. Students can then write anything I tell them on the iPad using their finger. I would make a list ahead of time of various words that matched our weekly phonics skill. Say the word was float. I would pass out the iPads to random students and give each student a letter to write on their iPad. I then told them to come up front, discuss with one another, and arrange themselves in the correct order to spell the word I was thinking of. The kids loved it, it got them to collaborate and discuss and really work together. So yes, the kids that were up and moving were very into it. But what about the kids at their seat still? That's where I goofed. I didn't have them as actively involved as I could have. Now I will be rethinking and adding an additional element into that lesson.
The Safari Hook
I totally agree with The Safari Hook and the fact that taking your kiddos outside of the normal classroom setting is automatically going to increase their engagement. It can sometimes be tricky to fight the outside elements of the classroom, especially if you have a challenging class, but it's always worth a shot!
I remember a lesson from this past year that Tamara and I did together with our classes. It was the science experiment where you drop the Mentos into a Coke bottle. We obviously weren't going to attempt this in our classrooms so we all gathered our supplies and headed out to the big open field! Students brought their clipboards and were able to make their predictions. Then we all took a huge step back and made a large circle about the ominous Coke bottle in the middle. I went up and quickly dropped the Mentos into the Coke bottle and ran away like my life depended on it and then calmly walked to my place in the circle to watch what happened! The kids were super engaged and the looks on their faces were priceless. When asked to illustrate what happened during our experiment, do you think anyone got the wrong answer? NOPE. 100% correct. :)
So to sum things up in these 2 chapters, bookmark the questions for the 3 main presentation hooks and reference them often. Be deliberate in your questioning and collaboration to make sure you are hitting the mark with keeping your students engaged.
And most of all, HAVE FUN DOING IT!!!
Thank you SO MUCH for sticking with me through this lengthy post! I sure hope I didn't bore you to sleep! :)
I would LOVE to hear your comments on these chapters!
And I shall leave you with a bit of humor...I just couldn't resist!
Head to these two lovely blogs to read more!

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  1. LOVE your post! And I loved that vowel song! My whole class was SO into it. They thought y'all were rock stars!

    Rowdy in First Grade

    1. Awwww! Thanks Jennifer! So glad they loved the vowel song too!!! :) And I LOVE that we are rock stars in someone's eyes LOL! :) Thanks for letting me host these chapters!!!

  2. Love the walk down memory lane!!! What a great year! Love ya, chick!!!

    1. It most certainly is!!! Love ya too!!

  3. Hi Daina!
    Thanks so much for hosting these chapters and participating in this amazing blog study. I enjoyed watching Tamara and you performing the vowel song, as well!!
    Great post...I especially like how you focused on the questions for each hook. I think those are the key to unlocking some creative ideas for lessons. If people just read through those sections once like a novel they are missing the point and won't find the treasure. I appreciated that you mentioned several times about going back and revisiting those questions as a reference. Loved your post...and loved the great collaborative (and fun) relationship you clearly have with Tamara. So important to find a kindred spirit!!

    1. Oh my goodness!

      I am SO HONORED that you took the time to comment on my post! Thank you so much for your kind words! I am so thrilled that you enjoyed it! :)