Learn Like A Pirate - Chapter #6 - Active Learning

Have you been reading along with me and my friends this week?  This week's chapter may be my favorite yet!  It's all about active learning - something that I think every teacher knows kids love and can benefit from, but sometimes are scared of management wise!

Kids learn best by DOING!

Here are some ways that Paul uses Active Learning in his classroom!

Paul talks a lot about having kids interact in their learning.  He uses an example of teaching about the Revolutionary War times.  (He suggests checking out Interact as a resource.)  In his classroom he plays the fictional characters to teach the kids about the historical times and help get them excited about reading and researching more about the topics.  He does a similar project with more of a sci-fi feel to teach about the constitution where he creates a new land on Mars that needs rules and guidelines and kids need to figure them out!

While Paul acknowledges that sometimes debates can have a negative impact, he feels that when he sets up debates in a strategic way they are more positive than anything else!  He talks about making sure that the work is done step by step with many teacher check ins and support kids benefit and are happy with the outcomes.  He also talks about how kids get a chance to practice their conflict resolution skills as they work together.  

Science Fairs
Science fairs are hit or miss for some schools - Paul says the key to success is student choice of topic and allowing students to complete the project all or almost all in class with teacher (not parent) support!

Project-Based Learning
PBL is something we all may be familiar with, however when I was reading I found that I was unaware of these essential elements.
-  significant content
-  twenty-first century competencies
-  in-depth inquiry
-  driving question
-  need to know
-  voice and choice
-  critique and revision
-  public audience

Paul does state that not all of the above components are a part of every one of his projects.

I for one am always looking to link in technology, but for a multitude of reasons I am sometimes limited in what I can take on.  I LOVED this quote from Paul "Use technology only when it's the best tool for the job".  Sometimes I love the "non-tech" way we choose to create with and it was nice to hear that that is ok (though I love the tech ways too!!)

Reader's Theatre
Reader's Theatre is a great way for firsties to practice fluency.  I love the structure that Paul has set up for his class to use Reader's Theatre.  Kids sign up as Paul pulls sticks (this helps with the teacher always doing the choosing!).  He also does a preview of the parts before choices have to be made, which gives kids a chance to make informed decisions.  Then they practice, practice, practice.  Then they can create some costumes and scenery (seems low key since it needs to be created in a day) and then kids perform and upload it to YouTube where kids can watch their performances and see what changes need to be made to make it even better!

Thanks for joining me this week and I hope you try out at least one of these ideas in your classroom next year!

Keep reading for some other ideas on active learning.  And make sure you read chapter 7 over the weekend so we can all chat about 21st Century Skills!

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