Learn Like a Pirate: Chapter 3

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3. Peer Collaboration

Hi everyone. Welcome back to chapter 3 of Learn Like a Pirate by Paul Solarz. Last week, we looked at common concerns about having a Student-Led Classroom. You can read about some of those concerns here.

Chapter 3 is Peer Collaboration.
According to Paul Solarz, we need to create a student-led classroom by making sure that the students understand that the classroom is a community. The students need to understand that we are a team and work together. Even if you do not try to establish or create a student-led classroom, I think it is very important for the class to understand and feel like one big community. I try to show the class that we are all one team. We should look out for each other in the classroom and outside of the classroom. After all, we spend more time together than with our own families.

It is easy to want to stay in control but we need to give up control and not micro-manage the classroom. One way to ensure that you create a community is by discussing expectations together. We need to provide immediate feedback and everyone should be encouraged to share their voice and opinion.

I know that I am guilty of not always giving immediate feedback to my students. I try to let everyone voice their ideas, but sometimes I have to stop the class because of time constraints. I know that starting in September, these are two areas that I really need to work on while establishing my student-led classroom.

Mr. Solarz gives up some strategies to use to make our lives easier.
The first strategy is “Give Me Five.”
* By shouting out “Give me five!”, the student becomes the center of attention and everyone, including the teacher stops to listen. It is extremely important to model how to use and when to use the phrase “Give me five.” Mr. Solarz also explains how there is a learning curve. I can just picture my second graders in September yelling out, “Give me Five!” every few minutes to get attention. I am sure that I will be a little frustrated in the beginning but after modeling (constantly) I am sure that my kiddos will be just fine. I just have to remember to give constant and immediate feedback to ensure the student understand why “Give me five” was used incorrectly.

Another way to establish a community is by putting responsibilities onto the students. Students need to realize that they have a role in the class and can help you out with everyday things done in the classroom. Have your students answer the phone, set up the laptops, put the homework on your class websight.

Students need to take an active role in the classroom. We need to teach students that the teacher will not be the center of the classroom. The students will come to understand that the teacher will not speak the whole time, but instead will walk around and facilitate. I do a lot of group work with my students. I pull a small group to work on a guided lesson but then I walk around the room and watch and listen. I try not to get involved in the work or arguments going on in the class. Instead, I listen and ask, “What do you think you should do?” or “How could you solve this problem?” I can not wait for my students to realize that they can do things in the classroom, like setting up a sign out sheet or a sign up sheet for read alouds.

How you set up your classroom is also very important. The room needs to be organized so that the students have space and can find material easily. The desks or tables should be organized to encourage talk and collaboration. There also needs to be an area for class meetings and space for students to work around the room. At least this is one area that I don’t have to worry about. My classroom is already set like this! 🙂

Another way to ensure that your class is a community and to have a student-led classroom is to let the students sit at different places in the room. Students should be able to choose other places in the classroom to sit while working. This is something that I did not do this year. In my old school, in previous years I would let the students choose where they wanted to sit during reading and writing. This year I really didn’t do this. I let the kids sit where they want during projects but I haven’t really given them the freedom to sit where ever they want at other times during the day. Again, its about giving up control!


I love the strategies given for dealing with student conflict. I would never had thought to have the students play “Rock, Paper, Scissors” to resolve a conflict. I am definitely going to use this strategy in my class! Another way to help the students to resolve conflict is to use the conflict as a teaching moment. Again, I plan on doing this is my room next year. You can also teach the students to compromise with each other to help the students deal with conflict. I can not wait until my students are able to handle their own conflicts and help each other out!

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi. Come back next week and join us for chapter 4!


One thought on “Learn Like a Pirate: Chapter 3

  1. I don’t always let them choose where they sit either, but I have found they usually behave better when given the choice and understanding that choosing is a privilege that can be revoked if they are struggling to make good choices. I rarely had to revoke the privilege.

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