Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pictures From Teach Like a PIRATE Day

Mr. Prince's Science Experience

Mr. Hill's Pow-wow

Mr. McLane's Mystery Skype

Mr. Prince's Science Experience

Mr. Palmer's Solar Oven

Mr. Palmer's Solar Oven

Mrs. Smith's Silhouette

Mr. McLane's Mystery Skype

Mr. Mitchell's Straw Engineering

Mr. McLane's Internet Radio Show

Mrs. Skinner/Mrs. Fireovid Human Coordinate Plane Battleship

Coordinate Plane Human Battleship

Mr. Hill's Pow-wow

Mr. Hill's Pow-wow

Mr. Hill's Pow-wow

Mrs. Smith's Silhouette 

Mrs. Williams' Wonka Creatorium

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Teach Like a PIRATE Day...More Reflections

I will try to give a better description of how things occurred on May 22, 2013.  On Wednesdays in our district, the students come to school an hour later than normal.  As a staff, we use that time for ongoing professional development.  The bus routes just run an hour later than a normal day and the class periods were only 32 minutes long.

Our kids entered the building at 8:15 AM and were walking the halls with their guidebooks and were scoping things out.  All students reported to Homeroom at 8:24 AM for attendance and morning announcements.  I explained the rules of the day:

  1. They could go to any experience that was offered that period.
  2. They could not go to any teacher more than twice.
  3. They could not be with the same teacher two periods in a row.
  4. Have fun!
As I was walking through the halls, I could sense the excitement, but could not really see any physical differences.  As I made it to the end of the hall and was turning the corner, I could see a line formed outside of Mr. Prince's Science class.  I was not surprised, and if you read the description of his experience, you would not be either.

I walked from room to room and the kids were hooked in every room.  Our building does not have air conditioning, and it was a hot day, but not a single teacher or student complained about it.  It was almost as if no one noticed.

I saw kids doing science experiments; designing candy bars; playing coordinate plane human battleship; kids creating their own Internet radio shows, Mystery Skypes, Native American Pow-wows; and teachers incorporating lessons into traditional games.

I saw what Dave Burgess has been preaching about teaching like a PIRATE.  I saw passion from everyone.  I witnessed students immersed in their education.  I could see the great rapport that many of our staff have with their students.  Students were asking intelligent questions and analyzing the best way to protect their egg before dropping it from the high school balcony.  I saw a school and a staff transform the way education happened because they incorporated a little more enthusiasm than normal.  Once that first period ended, I physically saw a change.  I witnessed students running to their next experience, because they did not want to get closed out.  

Here were some comments from the students on what they liked best about the day:

"Teach Like a PIRATE Day was fun.  I wish every day was like this."

"I liked having the freedom to choose my classes."

Here were some comments from the students on what they did NOT like about the day:


"That we only got to choose 7 classes."

"That we did it on a Wednesday so it was shorter class periods."

"How hard it was to get into some of the rooms.  When trying to get into Mr. Prince's room, you had to fight!!!"

As I mentioned yesterday, it was an absolutely amazing day.  We will be doing this again next year, probably once in the fall and once in the spring.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Teach Like a PIRATE Day...Huge Success

Where to begin?  First off, this is the first of several posts that will be up in the coming days/weeks.  Too much happened to put it in one blog post.  I guess I will start with addressing some concerns people may have about pulling off a day like this.  
  • We had about a 98% attendance rate today (and none of today's activities were for a grade).  
  • There were absolutely no discipline issues during any of the experiences. 
  • Kids were running from class to class.

The biggest problem we incurred was kids were getting shut out of the experiences they wanted to attend because the room was already full.  Teachers rectified this problem by using their judgement in allowing more students into their classes.  We did not want anyone to leave TLAP Day disappointed.

I walked into class after class and saw students hooked.  Students were engaged, they were having fun, and they were learning.  We had Willy Wonka themed experiences, The Ultimate Gift experiences, science experiments students can do at home experiences, Mystery Skype experiences, Human Battleship experiences, and a Native American Pow Wow experience, just to name a few.  Our students connected with classes in Wisconsin, New York, and Delaware.  Did I mention zero discipline issues?  Our teachers did a fantastic job.

One common question that students had for me was "Why can't school be like this everyday?"  My answer is "We are working on it."  Our teachers are using the PIRATE acronym to show more passion, immersion, better rapport, ask/analyze, transformation, and enthusiasm.  However, I would be remiss if I put it completely on the shoulders of the teachers.  Education is a two-way street.  Just as I will strive to get my teachers to create more engaging experiences in the future, we also need the students to be more passionate about their learning as well.  After seeing what I witnessed today, that should not be a problem.

We set out to answer Dave Burgess' question of "If your kids didn't have to be there, would you be teaching to an empty room?"  I never thought about answering his second question.  "Do you have any lessons you could sell tickets for?"  The teachers at Utica Junior High School got their answer to the first question today, and I had a student ask about purchasing a reserved seat for Mystery Skype, so that is a YES to number two.

Utica Junior High is a small rural school in central Ohio.  There are approximately 270 students in grades 7-8.  Nearly 45% of the students are on free/reduced lunch. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Teach Like a PIRATE Day Eve

I will be honest with you.  I have never seen this many kids excited for a day of school in May that was NOT the last day of school.  Kids received their guidebooks this afternoon to plan which experiences they will attend tomorrow.  I overheard some kids say "Wait, I can only pick seven of these?!"

I spoke with reporters from two different newspapers who are coming with photographers tomorrow. I actually had a Mystery Skype class call in today by accident, so I had the opportunity to talk to them for a few minutes today.  I will not reveal them yet, but they are a sneaky bunch and had some flags hanging on the wall that will certainly throw my kids for a loop!  Well played.

The only other nervous moment was for our science teacher, Mr. Prince, who was waiting on some science supplies to be delivered.  We can all rest easy as they were delivered this afternoon.

Our school day starts tomorrow at 8:30 AM eastern time.  I will tweet out pictures and updates with #tlapexperiment.  I will update the blog and eventually upload some videos to Youtube.

Thanks to everyone who has followed along so far.  The kids think it is pretty cool that people from so many states and even countries have taken an interest.

Finally, a big thanks to Dave Burgess for writing the book and being so supportive of this experiment.  Looking forward to sharing the results.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Teach Like a PIRATE Day Experiences

We are a few days away from our #tlapexperiment.  Below are the tentative experiences for our 7th and 8th grade students.

Teach Like  A PIRATE Day Experiences
Utica Junior High School
Utica, Ohio

Mr. Ballinger:  I will be doing an outdoor lawn games day to promote simple ways to get outside and become active.  Games will include corn hole, bocce ball, blongo(hillbilly golf), and kan jam.

Mrs. Baughman 1-3:  Stop motion animation without wearing an eye patch.

Ms. Blackstone:  "Scattergories" alliterations - individually, students will complete their game card with words to fit the categories provided - all will begin the same letter, determined by rolling the alphabet die. Once answers have been swapped, teams will create an alliteration with the words given. Teams, and Miss Blackstone will then vote on the best alliteration given.

"Apples to Apples" sentences - students will play Apples to Apples according the regular rules. The person who is the "picker" for the round will select the winning red card (noun) by using it in a sentence with the green card (adjective) selected.

20 maximum in the room for game purposes.

Mr. Dean Period 2:  Band

Mrs. Fireovid Periods 1, 2, 4, 7-9:  Be a part of Human Battleship.  Via Facetime between Mrs. Fireovid and Mrs Skinner's classrooms, groups will seek to locate their opponents' Pirate Ships, Protector Ships, and even a hidden treasure.  Groups will earn and lose points by finding ships or by having their ships destroyed.  Finding a hidden treasure could bring about an even greater reward.

Mr. Hill 1, 2, 4, 7-9:  Let's have a Pow-Wow... A study of Native American Culture... To understand and respect a culture is to actively participate so come join our pow-wow!!!

Mr. McLane Periods 1, 2, 3:  Come be the star of your own internet radio show.  Students will create and upload their shows to the internet.

Mr. McLane Periods 4, 7, 8:  Join us for Mystery Skype.  We will connect with another classroom somewhere in the world via Skype and by asking a series of Yes/No questions, we will have to figure out where they are, and they will figure out our location.  

Mr. Mitchell 1-3:  I will be doing an Engineering Problem solving activity: Straw Tower Competition.  Working in teams of two each team will design and construct the tallest Free Standing Tower using only the material given.  Candy Prizes to the winning teams.

Mr. Palmer Periods 1, 3, 4:  Do you get hungry in the afternoon?  You can use the sun's energy to heat up a tasty snack with a solar oven that you will make in the classroom.  See you there!

Mr. Palmer Periods 7-9:  I will give you a bag of materials and you will design and build a container that will prevent an uncooked egg from breaking when dropped from the high school balcony.  

Mr. Prince Periods 1-4:  Most kids know the legend of William Tell, who was known to be able to shoot an apple off of someone's head with a crossbow. During this class I will be using science to perform a modern day William Tell. If you come to my class I will be testing my marksmanship by shooting something off the top of your head... And that is only the beginning.

Mr. Prince Periods 7-9:  When I am finished using household items and scientific principles you have learned in class to perform demonstrations... You will be left asking for more.... And the best part is you will be able to recreate them at home to impress your family and friends.

Ms. Rodehaver:  We will be playing Jenga. There will be 5 different groups depending on the number of students. On each of the blocks there will be a math problem written in order for the students to re-stack their block they have to answer the problem correctly.

Mrs. Shomaker Periods 2, 3, 7-9: Do you love children’s books? How creative can you be? Stop by the computer lab and we shall see! Students will have an opportunity to show their creative side using children’s books and Microsoft Office. Students may bring their own children’s book or borrow from my daughter’s collection. Seating is limited to 26 creators per class period.

Mrs. Skinner Periods 1, 2, 4, 7-9:  Be a part of Human Battleship.  Via Facetime between Mrs. Fireovid and Mrs Skinner's classrooms, groups will seek to locate their opponents' Pirate Ships, Protector Ships, and even a hidden treasure.  Groups will earn and lose points by finding ships or by having their ships destroyed.  Finding a hidden treasure could bring about an even greater reward.

Mrs. Smith Periods 1, 2, 3, 4:  Based on the Book The Ultimate Gift...It is better to give than to receive. Design and Create a special gift for someone of your choice.
"Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful
people are always asking what's in it for me?"

Mrs. Smith Periods 8, 9:  Portray your own life story in an Enchanted Silhouette that you create yourself; using poetry, quotes, chalk drawings and decorate them to tell something about you!
"You are the HERO of your own story."                

Mrs. Sole Periods 1, 3, and 7:  Catchphrase.

Mrs. Sole Periods 2, 4, and 8:  Can you sell it? Persuade classmates to buy your product.

Mrs. M. Williams 1-4, 8-9:  Please come to Willy Wonka's Sweet Seasons Creatorium!  Attention candy designers, Willy Wonka's needs a new recipe for a chocolate bar, and they have asked you for your help. As part of your mission, you must come up with a name for your chocolate bar, the key ingredients, a tasty description, and finally, a prototype using the building materials at your station. It's going to be sweet!  We will be meeting in the "Sweet Seasons Creatorium" (Reading Room)
Seating is limited to no more than 20 candy designers per class period.

Mrs. N. Williams Periods 1, 3, and 7:  Can you sell it? Persuade classmates to buy your product.

Mrs. N. Williams Periods 2, 4, and 8:  Catchphrase.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Under a Week and Need Some Help

We are putting the finishing touches on the experiences on Teach Like a PIRATE Day and could use some assistance.  One of the experiences we are looking to create is Mystery Skype.  Our school consists of 270 students in grades 7-8.  If you are unfamiliar with our experiment, we are allowing the kids to pick the classes they attend that day.  The goal is for teachers to step up their game and for students to see that school can be exciting.  The day is Wednesday, May 22.

If you are interested, let me know.  Here are the time slots we need (Eastern Time Zone):

10:15 - 10:45 AM
12:45 - 1:15 PM
1:20 - 1:50 PM
1:55 - 2:20 PM

Ideally I would like to set-up something with four different schools, but I am willing to work with whoever is interested.

Send me a tweet @mclane_ryan if you are interested or leave a comment.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Under 2 Weeks Away

Teach Like a PIRATE Day at Utica Junior High will attempt to answer the question:

If your kids did not have to be in class, would you be teaching to an empty room?  

On May 22, 2013, we will have Teach Like a PIRATE Day to attempt to answer that question.  

Here are a few of my observations:

The kids are excited.  I am talking about kids that normally could not care less about coming to school.  They are more curious than anything.

The teaching staff is nervously excited.  Some have already come up with some creative experiences for that day.  Others are still figuring it out.  Sadly, a few have the attitude that it will be a free day for them if no kids show up.

The kids think it is pretty cool that the author of the book, Dave Burgess, has been communicating with me and is very interested in how this turns out.

Below is a short promo video to get everyone excited about the day, being dubbed on Twitter as the #tlapexperiment.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Teach Like A PIRATE Day

Dave Burgess is a Social Studies teacher in California and author of a book that every teacher should read, Teach Like A PIRATE. PIRATE stands for:

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

His book teaches you how to make your class more engaging.  He asks two key questions in his book.
1.  If your students didn't have to be there, would you be teaching to an empty room?
2.  Do you have any lessons you could sell tickets for?

So I posed those two questions to my staff today.  In three weeks (May 22) we will have Teach Like A PIRATE Day at Utica Junior High, a small rural Ohio school of about 270 students where approximately 45% are on free or reduced lunch.  We are working on the details, but the students will get to choose which classes to go to all day long.

I have a great staff.  I believe they are up for the challenge, and I believe it will be an eye opening experiene for all involved.

You can follow me on Twitter @mclane_ryan and our designated hashtag #tlapexperiment.