June 12, 2017

Official Change of Address...Blog Address That Is

Hello wonderful followers,

I have news!!  I'm moving!! Well... my blog is moving.

I am now at Classroom Hoopla!   

Click the picture above to go check out my new blog and find out more about one of my favorite classroom management techniques and my newest forever freebie in my store!!


Thank you for being such wonderful readers, collaborators, and friends. I have enjoyed every minute of being The Teaching Thief.  

I hope you will join me at the HOOPLA!

August 4, 2016

Teach Like A Pirate Book Study {part 2}

Yo ho! Yo ho! It's a pirate's life for me. 

What qualifies as treasure to teachers?  Student engagement? Student learning? Student’s remembering what we’ve taught?

If student engagement and learning is the ultimate teacher treasure, then Part 2 of Teach Like a Pirate is the official treasure map.

Part 2 of Teach Like A Pirate is chalk full of engagement strategies. Burgess provides you with 63 pages of ideas to help teachers build presentation into their lessons and increase student engagement.

The long and short of it is… presentation matters. It matters how we present our material.  

As Burgess says, “There is no award given to the teacher who fills every class period with bell-to-bell instruction. It doesn’t matter how much material you teach, it only matters how much is received.”

How true is that?  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought but I’ve taught this.  Um… clearly, it was not received. You can teach and teach and teach, but if the material isn’t being received, then you will always find yourself back at square one. 

Hmmm??? Perhaps it wasn’t the content that I lacked in my lesson, perhaps it was my presentation. Perhaps I just didn’t teach it in a memorable way.   

Never fear though, Dave has got you covered.  From huge ideas like creating a room transformation to small ideas like leaving a message on the board, Burgess provides you with 32 (assuming I've counted correctly) possible hooks for your lessons.

Below are a few of my favorite hooks. 

For a complete list compiled by Stephanie at Third Grade Thoughts, click here. For a complete list and a thorough description of each with inspirations stories and more, buy the book here.  :)

1)     The Kinesthetic Hook


The kinesthetic hook is all about incorporating movement into your lessons. This could include gestures of some kind, acting something out, or throwing and catching something. Movement gets kids involved.

About five years ago I started teaching all my geometry vocabulary through movement and gestures. Each vocabulary word from “line” to “symmetry” had a gesture that reminded students of the meaning of each word. We reviewed and practiced our vocabulary everyday throughout the unit, and I couldn’t believe how successful my students were at retaining the vocabulary. Units later, they could still tell me the difference between a “line segment” and “ray.” They used their gestures constantly. I even saw a few doing the movements quietly during the test.

2)     The Safari Hook


The safari hook is simply going somewhere outside of your classroom for a particular lesson. Just by changing the scenery and mixing things up, students are more alert and attentive. This takes no planning at all, just a little thinking ahead about where would be the best place to deliver your lesson.
My hope this year is to make it outside more often.  My school has a wonderful outdoor classroom/gazebo that I would like to take advantage of. I was also thinking the playground would be a very fun place for a geometry scavenger hunt.

3)     The Mozart Hook


The Mozart hook is about bringing music into your lessons. I use music in my classroom, but not always in a thoughtfully crafted way. It’s more… let’s listen to the Beatles while we work sort of way. 

My goal this year is to start matching some music with some of our content, especially to help set the stage in reading. Wouldn’t that be a cool way to introduce a historical text?  With music from that time period?  Music is such a powerful representation of an era. 

For example, we always read a few articles about the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression during our reading unit. My students are always fascinated by these topics and this historical era. They became even more engaged and excited about their learning when we watched a video that included images and The Dustbowl Blues by Woody Guthrie.

Between the pictures and the music, students had a profoundly better understanding of the time period and read with enthusiasm, asked incredible questions, and demonstrated some powerful thinking. The lesson quickly went from good to great with just a little extra in the presentation.

4. The Interior Design Hook


The interior design hook is about transforming your space! This hook encourages teachers to change the look or layout of their room for a specific lesson.

We do this for Writing Camp every year. For the week before the Texas Writing STAAR test, all our 4th graders head off to Camp Write-A-Lotta. We transform our classroom into cabins by decorating our doors and bringing in tents and camping chairs.  The students love walking in Monday morning and seeing the transformation. It’s magical. 

Changing the classroom for the day makes the day and the learning for the day feel special. Gotta love that! 

This year I want to find ways to do this more. Maybe just a quick one day transformation here or there. Have you transformed your classroom?  I would love to hear any tips, advice, or stories you have about this idea. Please please share!!

5.  The Props Hook


The props hook is exactly what it sounds like – bringing in props and/or pictures for students to see, study, and hold. Easy enough and something that takes just a little bit of planning.

My favorite prop is my jar of molasses. You see, every year we read this incredible article about the Great Molasses Flood in Boston, Massachusetts in 1919. Many of my students have heard of molasses, but few have cooked with molasses or fully understand the viscosity of the substance. So, I bring in a jar. We open it up and smell it. We pour a little out and watch it ooze down the side of a cup. This drastically increases the engagement and the understanding of our reading and it’s really fun!!

With so many strategies, it was hard to pick just five to share.  I could go on and on, but instead I’m just going to highly recommend Teach Like A Pirate. It is one that you will want to pull off your shelf again and again.  Sooo many good ideas and sooo many ways to energize the teacher, engage the students, and make teaching and learning more exciting, memorable, and fun!

If you missed my first post on Teach Like A Pirate, check it out here. Also, check out Dave Burgess' blog for further inspiration and general awesomeness.  :)

Part One and Part Two Complete.