With the new school year just around the corner, I’ve been catching up on all that reading I meant to do all summer long (and that I procrastinated).  I just finished reading Teach Like a PIRATE by Dave Burgess (again), and it really made an impact.  Teach Like a PIRATE (TLaP) is all about making your class something students want to come to.  There are two primary questions every teacher should ask:

Teach like a PIRATE by Dave Burgess

Teach like a PIRATE by Dave Burgess

Would students come to my class, even if it wasn’t required?

  1. Do I have any lessons I could sell tickets to?
  2. Can I answer “yes” to any of those?  Maybe.

PIRATE stands for

  • Passion
  • Immersion
  • Rapport
  • Ask and Analyze
  • Transformation
  • Enthusiasm

Much of Burgess’ book is about how teachers can make lessons exciting, and an experience that students can’t wait to come to class for.  He does grant that not every lesson can be like that, but with passion and enthusiasm, teachers can create experiences that draw students in and leave them asking for more.

In the book, Burgess offers a series of hooks: questions that teachers can ask while preparing to help get kids moving, integrate activities that hit multiple learning styles, and challenge students in fun ways.

So, why all this talk about this book?  Well, one of WPS’ challenges is retaining students between 8th and 9th grade.  And this year I’m on the 9th grade core team, tasked with finding ways to make 9th grade as exciting and engaging as 8th grade, while still challenging them.  We’re blessed to have great and supportive administration who have given us a blank slate to create cross-curricular experiences that provide some common ground for the grade level. And this book ties in directly with that mission.

Given all that, we’ve come up with some super-awesome things like a Character Creation Workshop to integrate mathematics and English while teaching about teamwork and personal strengths and weaknesses.  We’re hoping to do a trip to Washington D.C. and the Kennedy Space Center.  And we’re also working on a “Rediscovery Project” (kind of like a science fair, with a twist) and doing a personal branding speaker panel.

However, in light of my reading, I’m looking at my other lessons and thinking of other ways to integrate the PIRATE principles.  I can’t recommend this book highly enough.  You can get it on Amazon: Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator (disclaimer: this is an affiliate link).  You can also check out Dave Burgess’ website.


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