Sunday, September 14, 2014

Today's Golden Nugget from Teach Like a Pirate: Enthusiasm

Well, another weekend approaches. What am I looking forward to? Reading another chapter in Dave Burgess' incredible book, Teach Like a Pirate.

Today's Golden Nugget: Enthusiasm

I can tell after reading the chapter "ENTHUSIASM" that Burgess feels like this is a doozy. If you're like me, by the end of the day, I could just fall on the floor from exhaustion and all that has occurred throughout the school day. However, we have students to teach and engage! I teach 5 classes of fifth graders. There are times when that fifth class walks in that I think to myself, "I don't want to say all of this AGAIN!" "How can I keep the energy that I had this morning all the way into the late afternoon?" I quote Burgess when he writes, "As a teacher, your days comprise enough positive and negative experiences to either make you feel energized and amazing or beat down and depressed. What you choose to attend to creates your reality."  Wow that last sentence is profound! ALL of our students deserve our best (no matter when they see us during the day).

This past week was my first time to hand out vocabulary to my students. Yes, boring vocabulary (but SO necessary to learn). They were to study the 15 Plot/Story Elements Vocabulary words and will be tested on the terms this coming week. Well, vocabulary (to many students) can be quite mundane. I decided to "hook them into studying" by telling them that, "We'll be playing a game with our words tomorrow. You'll need to know the words, their meanings, and be able to APPLY them in order to be a great team player." The next day students came, ready to play. Yes, they studied!

I set up two chairs at the front of the room with buzzers on top of the chairs. I heard a few whisper to one another, "Oh, it's time for that game she talked about." I then numbered off the students into 2 teams (TEAM 1 and TEAM 2). After explaining my expectations, the rules of the game, and reminding them of safety in the classroom, the game commenced. You could feel the excitement in the room. Students were quickly coming toward the buzzers and giving me the CORRECT answers to my questions. For example, I would say, "The part of the plot diagram that's the most exciting and suspenseful part of the movie, play, or story." They had to answer, "Climax."  I also had them APPLY the vocabulary such as, "GIVE me the name of a non-fiction book" (not just the definition, but can they APPLY the terms). We had a blast! I heard quite a few, "Awwwwwwwwws" when the game was over.

I agree with Burgess when he begins this chapter with saying that "excellence as a teacher starts with having a passion for what you do in life."  I owe it to my students to "bring it!" I may not be able to make EVERY single lesson exciting, but I will give my best and exert a passion in my job every day.

NOTE:  Quotes and ideas are from the must-read book Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess.

 If you want to view the Plot/Story Elements Vocabulary terms that I gave my students, with the tests (2 test included- one is modified) along with answer keys, click here: Plot/Story Elements Vocabulary Words, Tests, and Answer Keys

Until the next "golden nugget,"

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


As we remember ALL the courageous heroes who risked, and lost, their lives thirteen years ago on that tragic September day in 2001, we are reminded of how Americans united as one. We also honor those who lost their lives and the families left behind to endure the endless loss and pain. Tomorrow, one of the clips I’ll be showing my fifth graders was created by a school principal. It’s very age-appropriate and equally informational.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Today's Golden Nugget From Teach Like a Pirate - TRANSFORMATION

Well, it's been a while since my last post from Teach Like a Pirate. That certainly doesn't mean that I haven't been wanting to get my hands on this well-written book. The first two weeks of school and getting into the groove of things has prevented me from pleasure reading and blogging. So, what did I hop up and excitedly grab this Saturday morning? Yep, Teach Like a Pirate from Dave Burgess.

Today's golden nugget: TRANFORMATION

Transformation? Yes, it's all about questioning ourselves, "How can we transform our lessons and classroom to be exciting and remarkable enough to where our students don't dread coming to our classrooms." Don't we want our classrooms to stand out from the "sea of sameness?"  Don't you want your students remembering and talking about your lessons years after they had you? I know I do!

In order to do this, Dave Burgess suggests asking ourselves two questions. Yes, the answers can be pretty painful!
1. If your students didn't have to be there, would you be teaching in an empty room?
2. Do you have any lessons you could sell tickets for?

Wow! Those are pretty "to the point" questions. Not ALL of our lessons have to be jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, but we should certainly have many lessons that conjure up excitement and enthusiasm from those sitting in front of us.

Students inquire, "Why do I have to know this?"  If we just respond by stating, "Because it's on the test," this DOES NOT cut it! It has to be relevant to the students and something that they will apply currently or in the future to the REAL world. Now you've got their attention!

Dave Burgess also talks in his book about proper POSITIONING. As teachers, we must position our classrooms to be "outrageously engaging." Add that "fun factor" and see the smiles on your students' faces. They might just line up and pay a pretty little penny for your lesson that day!

CASE IN POINT: This past week, I knew we were playing Context Clues football in my classroom. Therefore to HOOK them before the lesson, I brought in a white bag with a small football inside it. When I tiptoed over to the bag with the "secret" object, I had all my students in the palm of my hand.  I then told them that they could ask 10 "yes/no" questions to try and guess what was in the bag. Oh my goodness, you could hear a pin drop! A few classes did guess the object. When I pulled out that mini football, I HAD THEM! Now why is she pulling out a football in the middle of our reading class? HOOK!!!!! We're going to play Context Clues football!! Yes!! I don't think they even realized that I'm "making" them learn useful vocabulary words; they were just having a "ball."

Could I have handed out a Context Clues worksheet? You betcha! Would that have been a lesson that students would line up to see? I don't think so!

Thank you, Dave Burgess, for causing me to pause and ask myself some VERY powerful and lesson-changing questions.

NOTE: All ideas are from the must-read book Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess.

HOW TO PLAY CONTEXT CLUES FOOTBALL: To play Context Clues Football, divide your class into two teams. Project or place a "football field" onto your board (tape or use magnetic pins). I then used the App TAP ROULETTE to chose the team that would go first. Now you're ready to play. Starting with the winning team, they answer the first task card. If they get it right, they move to the 10 yard line. If they miss it, the other team gets a chance to answer. If students are talking or playing around, it's a fumble, and they move backwards 10 yards.

I just downloaded a football field from the Internet at this site:
Football Field Template and then used my Context Clues Task Cards for the questions. If you want to view the task cards in my TpT store, click here: Context Clues Task Cards or for older grades, check out these UPPER LEVEL Task Cards.

Until our next golden nugget,
Angie @ Positively Passionate About Teaching