Monday, April 1, 2013

Pirate Readers and the Drama Hook

I love books. 
Some of my favorite places to kill time are libraries and book stores. I especially love used book stores and have spent quite some time at Riverby Book Store in Downtown Fredericksburg.
This store is three levels full of amazing old books. 

The building is old just like the books it holds and there is something magical about it all.
It is all just steeped in history and I can only imagine all the people who turned the pages of these books before me.
I will be heading here sometime during this spring break for sure.
Here is a lovely little spot in the store to sit and get lost in a book.

Books have inspired me in so many ways. They have influenced  the way I think, the  manner I live my life and how I do my job.
Tori from "My End of the Rainbow" asked if I would post on a teacher resource book that has inspired my teaching.  That was a no brainer for me..  I quickly thought of this one - my newest teacher favorite: Teach Like a Pirate by David Burgess. I am book clubbing on this one with a few other teachers and we all agree it is worth a read.
I started Teach Like a Pirate one morning as I was running on a treadmill and before I knew it I was almost an hour into my workout.  It captured my attention and I didn't want to stop reading it.  This is a great book to read if you are feeling burnt out and unfulfilled as an educator.  And it is ok to admit  we all get that way from time to time. Turn to this book to get you out of your teaching slump. 
Here is what David Burgess has to say:
"Teaching is a job filled with frustrations, trials and tests of your patience.  Use your passion to soar over obstacles instead of crashing into them and burning out.  Your passion will also help you become absolutely relentless in the pursuit of excellence.  With a focus on professional passion, teaching is no longer about relaying the content's about transforming lives.  It's about killing apathy. It's no longer about memorizing facts; it's about inspiring greatness."
Oh my goodness, he speaks my mind throughout this book! Love so much of what he has to say.
He goes on to write about immersion, rapport, questioning, transformation and enthusiasm in Part 1.
Part 2 of his book is devoted to ideas on crafting engaging lessons.  This was of great interest to me as I am always looking for ways to increase student engagement. David goes over different presentation "hooks" that spark student interest and keep them tuned in during instruction.  I recently incorporated his "Drama Hook" idea with great success. The drama hook provides a creative outlet for your students who love to be "in the spotlight and on stage". 
David Burgess poses questions throughout these "hook" chapters to get teachers to think out of the box as we plan for our presentations.  For this one he asks us to ponder this question: "Can I provide the opportunity for my students to do skits related to what we are learning?" "Can they reenact historical events?"

I was reading this chapter at the same time I was teaching about our nation's founding fathers so I thought why not try out David's idea.
 We were learning about famous Americans and in particular, George Washington, Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Students were supposed to remember that Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence but I knew without some background on the causes of the Revolutionary War it wouldn't make any sense.  I decided to write a super simple skit and ask for volunteers to perform it.  We met for lunch that day and we ran through it a few times.  I gave them super simple props and costume pieces (mostly just hats) and we went with it. No memorization required, no stress.  It went off beautifully and I must say all students were fully engaged and it served its purpose of giving them some background for this historical  time period.  It was fun for them and for me.

 Because of the success of our first skit, I searched out for other little plays students could perform on other famous Americans. We ended up reenacting a few scenes from Susan B. Anthony's life as we learned about Americans who helped stand up for equality and justice for all.  Again, simplicity was key.  No fuss, no muss makes for happy teacher and kids. 

Here are some resources available from Scholastic Books.  Heroes in American History includes some short and simple read aloud plays that cover many of the Famous Americans that Virginia teachers need to cover.  
So how about it? Do you already use this  Drama "hook"?  Might it be something you are willing to try? 
I would love to hear about it!
I would also love to hear from other "Pirate" readers out there who are trying some of David's approaches!
Will be posting on others in the near future so check back.

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