Learn Like a Pirate: Chapter 6

6. Active Learning

Hi everyone. Welcome back to our book study of Chapter 6 of Learn Like a Pirate by Paul Solarz. Chapter 6 is about active learning.

According to Mr. Solarz, When students actively learn, they are engaged and take on leadership roles.

There are different ways given to help promote active learning.
*Stimulate thinking with simulations (create experiences)
*Debates
*Getting fascinated with fairs
*Science fairs
*Project based learning
*Using technology
*Reader’s Theater

I like the idea of creating experiences instead of lessons. I can definitely see how the students get more out of an experience than just sitting through lessons. I think that I will really think about creating some experiences for my kiddos. I’m glad I have the summer to work on it!

I have to tell you, I love having debates in my classroom. Not only do I love having debates, so do my second graders. It is fascinating to watch the students gather together and discuss a topic. In the beginning, when I introduce debates, I really want to pull my hair out. It is a long process for my seven year olds to be able to debate a topic. We start off slow with a topic we have been studying. Many times I use the question “Would you rather live in a city, suburb, or rural area?” After the unit of study, my kids get together with groups of students who have the same opinion. We work on looking for facts that support their opinion. I spend a lot of time coaching the students and modeling. By mid year, my babies are doing it on their own and loving it! Throughout the year, my students then come up with ideas for debates around topics of study or books we read in class. It’s very surprising to listen to some of their thoughts and ideas and how they try to persuade others to change their opinion.

Mr. Solarz also brings out the importance of science fairs. I think Mr. Solarz, is 100% right about completing projects in class instead of at home. Often times Science fair projects are assigned for homework. The students see it as tedious and many times don’t really care. I also know many parents who will actually complete the project for his or her child. It would be better to have the student complete the project in school and have fun with it. I know many times we are crunched for time and don’t want to “waste” our time with a science fair project. Let’s be realistic, science and social studies have really gone to the side. I have 20 minutes for science and social studies in my classroom. Instead of skipping it, I work on projects in the classroom during reading and writing that incorporate the content areas.

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We work on a lot of projects in my classroom. I’m still working on project based learning and am no expert. As my kids work on their projects, I walk around and facilitate. I try not to get involved in their work and ask questions like, “What are you working on”?, “Where are you getting your information from?”, “Why did you decide to…?” I find that many of my students lack creativity. This is something that I want to work on come September. My students need to know that it is ok to be different, to think outside the box. I think that the schools are killing creativity and want all of the students to be the same.

Let me give you an example, I had my students work on group projects. We were studying heroes in class. I gave my students a list of people they could present on. I gave my students paper and told they could present their project any way they wanted (without technology because we have none.) All of the groups decided to write an essay and draw a picture. I walked around and asked the students what they were doing and why they decided to present the information in essay format.

Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson

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Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull

So next year I plan to do more PBL and to incorporate Reader’s Theater into my classroom. What are some ways you will promote active learning in your classroom?

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi. I’ll see you next week for Chapter 7.

Rachel