Learn Like a Pirate {Chapter 5 and 6}

5. Responsibility

I missed last week so I’m posting Chapters 5 and 6 together today.

Chapter 5 is all about developing responsibility in the classroom.  This is something that I always spend a lot of time working on, especially at the beginning of the year and Paul Solarz shares some great strategies in this chapter.

He begins with the difference between “Classroom Jobs” and “Collaborative Responsibility.”  Like most teachers, I use classroom jobs for many tasks in the classroom, but I’m adding “Technology Manager” to this list this year.  Paul explains that his “Laptop Cart Monitor” makes sure all the computers are plugged in correctly.  I usually end up plugging in all the laptops and iPad/iPods after school – there is no reason my kids can’t do that job and honestly it would probably lead to less dead batteries if I don’t have to remember to check them everyday!

Unlike classroom jobs, “Collaborative Responsibilities” are the job of everyone in the classroom.  These tasks keep the classroom running smoothly and show respect for the classroom community.  I need to put a bigger focus on these things (pushing in chairs, putting away supplies after centers, making sure classroom books are put away appropriately) so that students begin to take charge of them without reminders.  One of the reasons Paul gives for limiting classroom jobs is that they “make students feel as though responsibilities will be assigned by the teacher, rather than allowing students to have the authority to complete tasks on their own.”  I can certainly see this in my own classroom…kids waiting for me to direct them to take care of things they already know need to be done!

Chapter 5 also talks about “Rituals” instead of routines.

Rituals are different from routines because they are motivational and anticipated by the students.

I love Paul’s end of the day ritual “REARJMCL” and the way students are involved in leading it.




*Reset the room

*Get your Mail

*Stack your Chair

*Line up!

Students lead each part to recap the day and get ready for the next one.  I especially love “The Evaluator” who leads the class to identify things that went well and set goals for the next day.  BUT it gets better!  They also review previous goals and discuss their progress.  What a great way to talk about goal setting and monitoring progress toward a goal!


6. Active Learning


In Chapter 6 Paul explains the ways that he engages students and let me tell you, I would love to be in his class!

In true Pirate fashion…he’s creating an experience for his learners!

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(Check out @burgess_shelley for great Teach Like a Pirate graphics)

One of the things Paul discusses in Chapter 6 is the Science Fair and how, when done well, it can empower students and promote inquiry.  He also details how his students complete all of their work in class, ensuring that it gets done by the students and that every student has an adequate opportunity to complete their project.  I’m always looking for ways to get parents into the classroom so I’m still thinking on this one…maybe a book fair where students dress as favorite characters and share about a favorite book around Halloween (plus it might give some direction to the chaos that is Halloween in first grade…one can hope!)

Another great active learning strategy is Reader’s Theater.  I love using Reader’s Theater with my students, but usually only have them read it.  Paul gives students a set amount of time, and once they are ready to read their piece fluently, they can add props and costumes.  How much more fun is that?!

Lastly, I’m thinking about the use of debate in the classroom.  Opinion writing is one of the big writing standards in first grade.  Kids have a lot of opinions, but not a lot of reasons.  I’d love to work on having students debate their favorite books – maybe with the March Madness Reading Brackets that were everywhere this spring! I think they would be excited to share (and it would hit several speaking and listening standards, too!)

Be sure to check out the other fabulous posts!

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