Teach Like a PIRATE Book Whisperer

Yadda yadda, haven’t posted in a long time. Course load increased, prep time decreased, musical production, mentoring a first year teacher, supervising a pre-service teacher, etc. etc. etc.

Image from Denise Caparula via Amazon.com

BUT I just finished reading Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess. Oh. My. Goodness. It’s our book for our WELS Book Club this summer. We’re discussing Part 1 of the book on Twitter – July 15th at 8pm CST using the hashtag #WELSbkclub.

My brain is now swirling with ideas. Hopefully I don’t get sucked down into the infinite vortex!!

So. Next year I’m teaching (subject/grade level):

Homeroom 6; Reading 6; English 6; Music 6, 7, 8; Technology 5, 6, 7, 8; Geometry 8

That seems like a lot looking at it, but I also am thankful because it’s less than I had last year (when I almost died).

Aaaanyhow, last summer, I read/listened to The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. Unfortunately for me, my school also dropped a bunch of money on a new Reading textbook (Journeys from Houghton Mifflin) so I needed to use the text as much as possible. I still supplemented with a couple novels and Scholastic’s SCOPE magazine, but the joy just wasn’t there.

In the light of Teach Like a Pirate and The Book Whisperer, I’m thinking of an idea kind of like the Challenges Dave Burgess uses in TLAP wrapped around the idea of independent choice and reading like The Book Whisperer. Students can choose to read whatever book they want, and if they provide some kind of review or summary (who knows what that will look like — I’m sure I’ll allow many different forms from the traditional report to a YouTube video and everywhere in between) they get some sort of credit in the gradebook (because I still have to take grades, and if they’re going to put in the work, I want their grade to reflect it), and some kind of public acknowledgement.  I’m considering some kind of competition around it as well, but I’m not certain how that would go over with the kids. Maybe I’ll leave that up to them! I’m still coming up with how I want to design my instruction during our time together, but letting the kids have time to read is going to be a big part of it.

Let me know what you think of this idea! I’m planning on creating a rubric and guidelines of what is and is not appropriate, and I’ll update this post with links to that when I’m finished.

Thank you, Teach Like A Pirate, for putting some zip back into my step and getting me excited about teaching again.

Update 1: Wowza! Thanks Dave for your kind comments. Donalyn, also for your feedback on Twitter. As I said on Twitter, when I mentioned competition above, I was thinking of a recognition wall where we could either track how many books were read, or to show off some excellent product. I don’t like pitting students against each other, but I’d rather we work together to a common goal, such as 200 books read or something. Finally, just as a side note, I only have 12 students in my 6th grade next year. Think of how well we’ll be able to build our relationships!! 🙂

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