#14 Teach Like a Pirate with Dave Burgess

Dave Burgess





US History, author, workshop/seminar presenter

(West Hills High School — San Diego, CA) 


Resource of the Week: www.newsela.com (Bethany Whinnem, Fairhaven High School)

NewsELA provides high interest nonfiction articles about current events that are updated daily. There are several benefits of the website:
1. The same article can be adjusted to various reading levels.
2. At least one article each day has a four question quiz attached, which is tied to specific reading standards indicated by the anchor in the corner. (The questions are also worded differently depending on the reading level selected.
3. When students log in and create an account with the teacher code, it corrects and keeps track of the questions for each student. So, teachers can track problem areas for the class.
4. They usually send out a monthly progress email to the teachers.

(email me your favorite resource talkswithteachers@gmail.com)


 Segment I – Background and Inspiration


daveTell your story. Where are you from and how long have you been teaching? What classes have you taught? 

– Dave has taught US History at West Hills High School in San Diego, CA for 17 years. He came to the school first as a basketball coach and a teaching job soon ensued. He is currently on a one-year leave to promote his book, Teach Like a PIRATE: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator.

 Who has helped you in your journey to become a master teacher?


– Dave worked for three summers at the John Wooden basketball camp. To learn from such an extraordinary coach and man of character has benefitted him. Wooden’s idea of success, the piece of mind arising from doing your best, has influences Dave’s teaching. He tries to embed LCLs (life-changing lessons) into everything that he does in the classroom.  

It is important for other teachers to know that we all have had setbacks in the classroom. Identify an instance in which you struggled as a teacher and explain what you learned from that experience.

– Dave created a whole lesson around the War of the Worlds. He had the classroom in complete darkness and wanted students to listen to the radio broadcast. There were behavior problems and the students were disengaged. He was very discouraged. Through reflection he realized that the broadcast is flat-out boring. Good teaching is like a heat-seeking missile.  Any time it is off course is has the intuition to return to its proper direction. Through reflection we can get ourselves back on course.  

What role does literacy play in a U.S. History class?

– Dave believes there should be an emphasis on primary sources. Also, writing forces students to get clear about their thinking. Both enables students to become more critical as thinkers.

What is one thing that you love about the classroom?

 – Dave loves the day-to-day interactions and relationships with students. It is something that is missing right now while he is on this year-long book/workshop tour. 

Segment II — Digging into the Teacher Bag of Goodies


 What book do you recommend to a developing teacher? 
Teach Like a PIRATE: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator
is about embracing the spirit of a pirate — to be a maverick and sail into unchartered waters without guarantee of success. They also embrace diversity. Their crews reflect a broad range of abilities and backgrounds. There is also the whole idea of trying to hook students and draw them into content. One of the key lessons of the book is encouraging teachers to find what is unique about themselves and draw on those talents and energies and bring them into the classroom.


What is one thing a teacher can do outside the classroom that can pay off inside the classroom?

–Dave is a part-time professional magician. Those presentation skills, the ability to stand in front of a group and entertain, pay off in the classroom. In general, the more you are able to look into your own passions, and the more you read widely, the greater application you can have in the classroom. 

 Is there an internet resource that you can recommend which will help teachers grow professionally?

– Dave believes that Twitter is the single greatest place for innovation and collaboration for teachers. #tlap has a chat every Monday night. The negative teachers aren’t on Twitter. The people you see there are trying to move forward and help others move forward. 

What does good writing look like in a history class?

 – When you write, it forces you to think about your message and how to support it. Dave is big into reflections in which students must imagine themselves in history. He believes we should offer greater variety and choice in writing. We need to be more concerned with the learning taking place and less concerned with the method. 

 What book should be a part of the school curriculum?

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass 


The Autobiography of Malcolm X (Penguin Modern Classics)