Learn Like a Pirate {Peer Collaboration}

Now we are jumping into the acronym PIRATE... P stands for Peer Collaboration.  I pride myself on what I thought to be peer collaboration, but after reading this chapter I realized that it was more like glorified group work.  I am hoping to change things up next year to try this out.
Top 5 things I learned while reading this chapter:
5. "Give me 5!" - I had always seen this as an attention getter to be primarily used by the teacher.  I hate to admit this, but in the past I would use it when group work got too loud.  While reading this chapter, I discovered that it is a tool for not only the teacher to use, but also for students.  I am really excited for them to be able to ask for help from their peers and share the tips/tricks they figure out while working.  While it will take a lot of modeling, I know that my 8th graders would be able to pick it up.  My only concern would be them overusing it, but Paul gives ways to correct these behaviors.
4.  Spaces that encourage learning - Seating arrangements that encourage collaboration work best when learning like a pirate.  Also, letting students choose their own seating lets them feel empowered and can also lead to them monitoring their behavior on their own to keep that privilege.  The best part of it all is that you don't need expensive furniture to do this!   I think that I have done a pretty good job about this in the past.  In my classroom students can be found sitting at tables, in desks pulled together, huddled on the floor, or even sprawled out in the hallway.  I want my students to feel comfortable with their they are learning and working.  Who am I to say that laying on the floor isn't best for them and that they should be in a desk? My principal is quick to question me when she walks in my room and sees the students sitting in their perfectly rows quietly.  She knows that is not the norm in my class.  The only requirements I have are staying on task and putting things back where they were before leaving the class.
3.  The right kind of competition - Competition can be detrimental to student growth.  We want them to work together instead of trying to be better than one another.  Although internal competition in good for self-reflection.  From asking themselves how they can do better next time to how they can help with their peers better.  Towards the end of the school year I started having my students self reflect on certain days.  They never knew when I would have them reflect and that seemed to help with honesty and corrections being made the next day.
2.  Dealing with conflicts - Conflicts are to be handled with care and in nonconfrontational ways.  I LOVED the three strategies he gave for students to handle conflict.  They were: rock-paper-scissors, compromise, and choose kind.  Rock-paper-scissors is a great way to handle conflicts no matter how big or small.  This was a go to decision maker for some of my hardheaded students this year.  It definitely recommend it. :)
1.  Responsibility partners - They are used when completing individual products.  Students have someone to bounce ideas off of, but will use their own ideas to make their products.  They also have: someone to check in with to make sure they are completing their assignment correctly, answer each others questions, and hold each other accountable.  They are responsible for each other whether it is good or bad, which will make them become invested in their partner's success.  The benefits are overwhelming: learning empathy, develop patience, and adapt to different ways to encourage others.  I LOVE this idea.  Too often when you have students do something individually they will not ask questions or will overwhelm you with questions.  They have someone to confer with first.  I had never thought of having a partner when not working on a group product.  This is ingenious and a strategy that I cannot wait to try next year.
Here is my favorite quote from this chapter. I plan to hang it up by my desk to remind myself and my students of this.
{Click the picture to download for free!}
Next week I will be discussing the next chapter which covers "improvement focus vs. grade focus".  Head on over and check out what my fellow bloggers have to say about peer collaboration until then. :)


  1. Love this!! I loved Teach Like a Pirate and your posts are making me want to grab my own copy of this book! Thanks for sharing!!

  2. I love having my students work in partners, and I loved his comment about how working together does not mean one person does the work or splitting it, it's two people doing the same work and working together to find the answers.

  3. I am really enjoying your book study posts! The new thing for me is the idea of responsibility partners. I may have to try that out!



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