Getting your students involved in the classroom, Pirate-Style!

​Hey ya’ll, your friendly Southern educator here………..

I’ve had writer’s block for a few weeks, don’t know why, the articles are piling up in my head and my  brain is like a computer with 1000 windows open, music running in the background and the search engine moves like molasses on a cold winter day when I try to find the right words to say what needs to be said. Anywho…let’s get down to the reason I’m writing to you:

My favorite subject (besides teaching in unusual ways)


Oh, but Christy, we already did that. Yes, yes we did, BUT…..did you know that you might not be the only pirate in your classroom?? What if…now stay with me here…WHAT IF…you taught your students to be pirates?? It is possible to teach your students to be open minded and guide themselves through a lot of their learning during the day.

How to learn like a pirate!

If you noticed…..we have already covered Teach Like a Pirate for teachers. 

E for Enthusiasm! (Part 5)

Teachers, It’s time to CHANGE!( Part 4)

Pirate Teachers are HERE (Part 3)

Teach Like a Pirate:  How to be a Pirate! (Part 2)

Do you want to be a teacher or a pirate? (Part 1)

Now it is time to teach our students how to learn like a pirate. How do pirates learn? Good question. Use your imagination……If teaching like a PIRATE is thinking outside the box, having passion, thinking on your feet, moving outside of the norm………………………I bet you can gather a few ideas of how this “Pirate Learning” might go. It’s all about collaboration and group learning…..

Now let’s try to imagine our perfect classroom…

We arrive at school. Coffee is already made and set on our desk (just magically appears), oh and chocolate, there’s a chocolate lake flowing freely somewhere in the supply closet. Mary Poppins is flying around using her magic wand as the children enter singing and happy, ready to start the day and soak  up all  the information you have for them for the day…

Oh wait, wrong daydream!

Ok, so maybe this will never happen, but you can establish order and teamwork and collaboration among the students in your class effectively through project learning.

Yes, it will take some time and some work on the frontend, but anything worth having is worth doing right and worth working for. Just as Dave enjoys being the PIRATE in the classroom and does more through teacher led projects and teaching, Paul enjoys the act of allowing his students to man the Pirate Ship. It’s a wonderful concept and I really enjoy the PIRATE Teaching Development series.


In the next few weeks I’ll lead you through ways to turn your classroom and students into pirates on a mission towards the best educational experiences they (with your guidance) can ever experience.

Step 1

First, create pirate names. What’s a pirate without a catchy name? There is a pirate name creating website. If you so desire, you can give them their first assignment: Create a pirate name that suits you and be ready to explain why you think you need that name. Of course for your younger students, you will want to create a list yourself, and allow them to pick their name. I never in my wildest dreams felt that by doing this activity in the US with my students, would lead me to using this process to pick English names for Chinese students. As a PIRATE teacher you will use your skills of immersion and observation to make sure the names fit the students.

Or use this silly chart for ideas!

Step 2

The next thing is establishing a code (I’ll  go more into that later) and deciding who are captains and who are crewmen. You don’t want too many captains in one ship. Too many cooks in the kitchen does not a good meal make. Too many captains and that ship will never leave the dock. Therefore, you need to explain the requirements of the jobs. 

Place posters on the wall:

Are you a captain or a crew-member? You will be surprised that many times, they know if they can be a good leader or not. Their next assignment is write a paragraph on WHY they think they would make a good captain or crew-member. The WHY is very important as they will have to convince the crew-members to choose them as captain of their ship. Now, the crew-member paragraph is equally important because they will have to persuade the captain to choose them for their ship.

Yes, this is an assignment in the form of persuasive writing, but hey, do they really need to know that?

And before you go off on how your students can’t do this, stop and remember that you once had to learn to be a pirate. Every grade, every student can do this in one form or another. It can be picture form, it can be list form, it can be the most creative writing piece they’ve ever done…… remember the goal…remember that the point is to get to the treasure anyway you can. And remember, there will be storms along the way.

Step 3

Now the class is ready to choose their captains and crew-members; however, they must convince each other that they are worthy to sail or lead the ship effectively. Look over the job applications (the writing assignment) and make sure that they have gotten the point before you start this step.

Ok, now they have all decided where they want to be placed. You, the teacher, will decide how many ships (teams, small groups) you will have in your classroom. You will tell the class before they start making a decision how many ships, captains and crew-members you need. You will allow the captains to read or speak why the should be chosen as captain first. The others will take notes on each captain’s qualities and then after the speeches (yes, persuasive speech, imagine that, they didn’t even know they were learning any of this speech junk) the crew-members will all convene into a corner to make a decision on who will be captains of the ships.

Desks or Pirate Ships? You decide!

Step 4

Now you will do the same activity above, except this time it is with crew-members. They must persuade the captain to hire them on as members of their crew. They can give their speech (oooh there’s that word again) and request to apply (persuade) a specific captain or captains or they may do a general request.  Now, during this time, the captains are all taking notes on who they feel will work under their command the best and become a united team to get the ship out of the dock and through the high seas of the school year without turning over or running aground or heaven forbid, getting lost in the Bermuda Triangle.

The Bermuda Triangle ate my homework!

Step 5

The captains make their choices and voila, you have small groups set up by the students themselves for the year. Now remember, as Lead Pirate of the ship fleet, you have the right to veto any and all decisions made by the captains at any time. You can dismantle the pirate ships or replace captains or shuffle crew members at anytime throughout the year.

Ok, that’s a great start! More on “”Learn Like a Pirate” to come. 

As Always,

Be Kind,

With Love,


Other Great Articles by Teacher Christy:

You’re talking… but is it teaching? (Over 1000 views! Wow!)

The Struggle is Real [Classroom Management】

Order & Chaos [Classroom Management]

How to teach 3-5 year olds?

Who is Christy? I’m just a simple country girl who wanted to make a difference in children’s lives by becoming the best teacher/model I could. I want to promote teachers to be more than just a person in a room. I want to help them to love and guide all children to become the best person they can be. I truly believe all children deserve a chance, but those who are less likely to achieve greatness, need the most, loving, kindest teacher they can possibly have because they probably do not get this from anywhere else. We have the ability to shape and guide these children and lead on to greatness and life they deserve.

Want to know more? Add Christy’s WeChat to get to know more about her and all the great things she does with education. WECHATID: AuntieChristy

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