Learn Like a Pirate: Peer Collaboration

Are you loving this book as much as I am? Well we're all the way up to Chapter 3. Peer Collaboration. I absolutely adore when I notice my children are collaborating and I had nothing to do with it.

The author, Paul Solarz, teaches kids that are much older than mine. There is a huge difference in expectations for a fifth grader in comparison to that of a kindergarten kiddo. As I was reading this chapter, I tried to think of everything that he was saying in terms of how I could relate this to my classroom. I'm going to be honest, a few of these ideas will never happen in a kindergarten classroom. However, I think that most of it can be taken into consideration and used in a way that works for lower grades.

He asked 7 questions at the end of the chapter that I thought was a good reflection of what he wanted us to "get" as we read. Here's a few that stuck with me.

1. What is the purpose of giving students the power to interrupt the class when necessary?
When students have power in the classroom, it gives them a voice that they may have never had a chance to have before. The power to speak and let their concerns, ideas, and opinions be heard gives them a stepstool for confidence. This is also great practice for learning to respect others as they are speaking. Kids have a hard time realizing that it is disrespectful to talk while another student is speaking. This is a great way to teach them that everyone should have a chance to be heard in a respectful manner.

2. Why is it important for teachers to make a conscious effort to provide opportunities for students to lead the class?
Teachers should make an extra effort to allow every child to be a leader in some form because there are kids that have the capabilities of being great leaders, but are too shy to step up. This also makes the kids that are always willing to lead play a supporting role in the classroom. Students need to have time to learn how to manage their feelings and how they should act while in a leadership position as well as learning how to act when they are not. When students are able to take the lead in the classroom, I think they take more ownership and pride over their thoughts. They will learn to think before they speak as well instead of just blurting out.

4. Do you use Classroom Meetings to discuss life skills or classroom concerns? Describe how you (would) do that?
This is one my "need to do better" list. Yep. I said NEED TO DO BETTER. As a teacher, there is so many things that I can improve upon. Hence, why I read books. This is why I research new ideas. This is why I do tons of questioning to get a better understanding of things. I want my children to have the best experience the entire 175 days that they are with me. With that said, I need to be the best ME that I can be. I say all of that to say, classroom meeting time is one of my biggest struggles. I just don't know what to do. When I first started teaching, I didn't know anything about "morning meetings." We did calendar and went on about our day without just "talking."

With my AMSTI training, I was taught to do math workshop meeting time to discuss concerns and other small things. The students got time to saw what they did or didn't like and we discussed how we could fix it for either the next day or our next workshop. This is a very tiny form of meeting with my kids, but I'd like to have a full blown morning meeting every single morning. I can't say how I'm going to do it, but this year I want to meet with them every morning.

6. How do you teach your students empathy?
I never have. This chapter has added more to my to-do list as a teacher. I loved the way that he taught empathy to his students. Through the use of a book, his students' eyes were opened to an entire new world. They were able to step into the shoes of Auggie and realize how hard life can be at times. You never know what someone else has to go through on a day to day basis and a simple class read aloud allowed them to relate to the book.

That's it for chapter 3! You still have time to join us if you haven't already. Chapters 1-2 were easy reads and this one really gets you thinking, but wasn't too long.


  1. I love your answer to number two, Keri! I really think that it is our job to provide all kids with opportunities to be leaders. I really liked Paul's message about passive leaders. We need to teach our kids that there are MANY ways to lead their classmates. :) Great post!!!

  2. Keri - I love that you point out that students have a hard time realizing that it's disrespectful to talk while someone else is speaking. I was choking back "BUT!..." when I read Paul's thoughts on interrupting. My southern upbringing tells me interrupting is disrespectful. However, Paul's description of interruption isn't interrupting someone mid-sentence, just interrupting the learning. I think the "Give Me 5" approach does far more for teaching students to respect each other than any perceived form of disrespect. Thanks so much for reminding me of that.
    The Take Home Teacher

  3. I love your answer to number 1! I was thinking a lot about that, too, and have it on my "To try" list for the school year! :)


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