Friday, January 4, 2019

Teach Like A Pirate Book Study

The first huge professional development I led for my teachers in the my new gig as Curriculum Leader was starting a book club. My amazing admin invested in a book for every teacher and gave their full support by participating in the book study alongside the teachers. I chose "TEACH LIKE A PIRATE" by Dave Burgess for our first book because of ALL the amazing tweets and chats I had read on Twitter. My new school is full of amazing teachers who want to learn and grow so they were on board to learn how to teach like a pirate.

Dave Burgess offered to do a Google Hangout with us so I used that as the kick off for the book study. I kept it a surprise and planned for it to take the place of a faculty meeting. Imagine everyone's surprise when he popped up on the big screen in the media center with his crazy excitement! Every teacher got a book and bookmark, eye patch, and bandana after the Hangout and were ready to start reading!

Planning for the book study required a lot of thought about the reading timeframe and how to lead discussions throughout the book. I contacted several school leaders via Twitter who were also planning or had already led a book study on this book. This document has so many book study resources! Have I mentioned my big LOVE for Twitter and the awesome people who let you share and steal! After much collaboration, stealing, and planning I created a Google Site and had teachers create small groups of 4-5 that would "Walk The Plank" together once a week. The Google Site can be found here and is a collection of questions from #tlap chats on Twitter and Paul Solarz.

Walk the Plank was my favorite part of the book study. The small groups chose a time once a week to walk around the school for 5 minutes and discuss the reading for the week. I gave them suggested questions they could use if they ran out of things to talk about. Most groups walked longer than 5 minutes because they were so engrossed in their discussions. It was fun to see them walking and talking about how to teach like a pirate and bouncing ideas off each other.

The website I created had discussion questions for each chapter that teachers answered at their own pace. I encouraged them to go back and read comments made at the end. For my next book study, I want to do something different with this so that it is more of a back and forth conversation rather than just an answer to a question. 

One of my favorite parts of the book was the section with presentational hooks. "If I were throwing a theme party at my house for this subject, what would I do?" Yes! I use this one the most because it covers so many parts of the lesson. I created a handy dandy set of "hook" cards that teachers can refer to when they need a little creative boost for their lesson.

Burgess gives these hooks with questions to spark our creativity to "pimp" our lessons. I encouraged my teachers to just start with one, instead of waiting for that infamous flash of inspiration. Some started small with just a message on the board and others jumped in with full costume for an Ellis Island simulation!

My teachers were all in and the excitement in the building grew with every page we read! It was amazing to see the transformation of lessons and the experiences we were creating for our students. They were going home and talking about the mock trial and archeological dig instead of the "doing nothing" usually conveyed about what happened during their school day! Parents are commenting on our social media posts about how much they love hearing and seeing the lessons that are happening.

We are heading into the second semester with just as much enthusiasm as when we started and much of that is because we are trying to create experiences by teaching like a PIRATE!

Here are all the files!
Google Site
BIG Document of Resources
Walk the Plank Questions
Book Mark
Book Mark Editable PowerPoint
Teach Like A Pirate Hook Cards



  1. What you have done and created here is amazing. I am inspired to do this at my school next year and hope I get the support from my principal. Thank you for posting all of these amazing resources and basically a step-by-step "How to"!

    1. Aw! Thank you! So glad you found it helpful. Let me know if I can help in any way!

  2. Is there a way to get a version of the bookmark that can be edited? I like it, but can't change the name of the school.

    1. You can get the powerpoint from the link below! Let me know if you need anything else!

  3. Thank you for providing these resources. I had a question...I wanted to use the Hook Cards with a professional development group I am in. I see that some of the cards are blank so I was wondering if they are blank so that we can individually include our own hooks to reference? If so, do you a have a copy of the original document so it can be edited? Again, thank you for your materials. We are reading this as a group and we all love it!

    1. Jacqueline RichardsonDecember 18, 2019 at 11:49 AM

      Hi! So happy you are loving the book! I did have blank ones in case teachers wanted to add their own. You can grab the powerpoint from the link below. Let me know if you need anything else!

  4. Thank you for sharing all this! I am going to lead a book study on this soon! Do you have an editable version of the bookmarks?

    1. Jacqueline RichardsonJanuary 21, 2020 at 1:49 PM

      Hi there! This is a link to the powerpoint version which you can download then edit. Let me know if you need anything else! Hope you love the book!

    2. Thank you so much for sharing!

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