Thursday, May 18, 2017

Teach Like A PIRATE Day

Four years ago, I read a book titled Teach Like A PIRATE, written by Dave Burgess, an educator from California.  PIRATE stands for: passion, immersion, rapport, ask & analyze, transformation, and enthusiasm.  The main premise of the book was how can we make school more engaging and exciting for our kids?  The essential question the book asks is this, "If kids didn't have to come to your class, would you be teaching to an empty room?"  As an educator, that's a question that gets you thinking.

Four years ago, after state testing, I decided to put this question to the test.  What if, for a day, we allowed kids to go wherever they wanted?  What if, instead of having a normal day of school, our teachers came up with "experiences" that would cause kids to practically run to get to?  Thus, Teach Like A PIRATE Day was born.

A great deal has changed since that first TLAP Day.  Dave no longer teaches, but instead, travels the world talking to educators about his area of expertise (Teach Like A PIRATE went on to become a New York Times bestseller).  Hundreds of schools around the world have now held their own version of TLAP Day after hearing of the success of the first one.

I have gotten to know Dave a little bit over the past four years.  I have heard him speak multiple times and he loves hearing about our TLAP Day, what our teachers come up with, and what the students think of the day.  This year, he will get to see it for himself as he is flying in from California to see the event in person.

Today, your child will receive a guidebook that contains a list and brief description of the 31 fantastic experiences available to them.   Typically, it is the one piece of paper we hand to them that they don't lose.  On Friday, they will get to experience six of them.  Our hope is they say "I can only pick six of these?!?!"

Here is a link to the guidebook.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Do What Is Right. A Lesson In Leadership

Today we held our annual Veterans Day program at BWI, an event in which I look forward to each year.  It is great to see the kids take pride in singing, and preparing for the program, one that is well attended by our families.

This year, we were honored to have Major Jon Stewart speak to our students.  These kids are 10-11 years old and many of them cannot comprehend the sacrifices our veterans make.  I'll be honest, I'm almost 39 years old, and I probably can't comprehend these sacrifices either.  As Major Stewart talked to our students about being leaders in their school and community, he made a complex character trait easy to understand.  Do what is right.  When you are in a situation, do what is right.

Our kids encounter situations every day in which they must determine what is right?  They are also learning that doing what is right is not always what may be popular with their peers.  When this happens, and it happens, we as a staff try to impress upon them that if you are a leader who is not doing what is right, are you a leader worth following?

Thank you to all of the families who were able to join us this morning, and thank you for your service to our country.

Ryan McLane

Monday, August 17, 2015

Day 1, 100%

It took 17 years for it to happen, but if I was ever going to see it, it would certainly be at BWI. Today was the first day of school and for 250 5th graders, it was their first day of school in a new building.  BWI is where all of our kids come together for the first time, as they come to us from four different elementary schools.  Some of them are scared, most of them are nervous, but apparently all of them were excited. 

We had all 250 5th graders present and accounted for on day one, and once we sort through the 6th grade transfers, we may end up with 100% attendance there too.

I asked a few random students why they thought none of their classmates had stayed home?  Their responses were very similar. "We have heard the stories and we have been waiting to come to school here."

We began the day with an assembly and ended the day making sure everyone got on the correct bus, and in between were some nervous moments trying to master the combination lock and some cool experiences created by our fantastic teachers.  It will continue to get better with each day. 

See everyone tomorrow!

Mr. McLane

Monday, February 2, 2015

Day 107: I Can't Possibly Make This Up

What a day in the Big Walnut School District.  My morning started off learning that a teacher from another school district (who had a snow day today) came to visit one of our teachers to learn more about his practices.  She was part of a group who came for a visit last week and missed seeing his class in action.  Now that says a lot about both teachers.

Later on in the morning, one of our teachers had a guest speaker.  Her class had just finished reading a book about the lost boys of Sudan and their long walks for water.  A service project has been born out of this lesson and what better way to cap off the project than to have an actual lost boy from Sudan come in and talk to our kids.  Talk about eye opening.  He told them how he had to walk everywhere, escape to Kenya, and as he was finally going to get to his ultimate destination of the United States, one more obstacle stood in his way.  You see, his American Dream was delayed because his flight to the U.S. was on September 11, 2001.  He was flying over the Atlantic Ocean when his flight was diverted to a European nation.  Talk about adversity.

I ended my day at Big Walnut Middle School to see a presentation by Murray Ebner, a Holocaust survivor.  In a matter of hours, I, along with the students at Big Walnut, heard first hand accounts of history that most people never get a chance to hear.  Our students have these opportunities because of the hard work and forward thinking of many of our teachers.

These were just a few examples, there was plenty more of awesome  things happening in our building and I will continue to share those stories. 

I will only speak for BWI.  Do we make mistakes?  Absolutely.  Is everything perfect?  I would be the first to admit it is not.  However there is no denying we are trying to provide the best education for our kids and to give them many opportunities so that 20 years from now, they will say, "Remember that one time at BWI?"  

Day 105: BWI Video Newsletter, 1/30/15

BWI Video Newsletter, 1/30/15.

Day 106: One Drop, One Person, One Dollar.

Our teacher, Mrs. Everitt, shared a book with us in Language Arts. This book was called “A Long Walk To Water” by Linda Sue Park.  It is a story about the war in the South Sudan that started in 1985 and follows Salva Dut throughout his journey as a refugee and “Lost Boy” during that time. It also follows Nya, a fictional character. Her story is set in 2009. She has to walk a very long distance twice a day to get water for her family. The water she gets is dirty, and filled with bacteria that can make people very ill.

We loved this book, and we were inspired to make a difference. Water is essential to life.  We decided  to create a campaign to raise money and awareness for the Buckeye Health Clinic. This clinic is in the South Sudan, and was started by Bol Aweng, a local “Lost Boy”. His journey is very similiar to Salva’s journey.  So, we started this campaign called “One Drop - One Person - One Dollar”. Becuase it only takes one drop of water, one person and one dollar to make a difference in this world.

Our class became an agency and worked in small teams to each meet a goal for the overall project. In our class we do Project Based Learning. We learn about the topics that we are required to learn about, like geography and cultures, and the history of places for social studies, and understanding what we’ve read, and writing about what we read, and all the proper spelling and puncutation we need for Language Arts… but in project based learning we take what we learned and apply it to projects.  We created a PSA video and shared that with all of the other classes and we presented on the book and the fundraiser.  Other students made banners, and another group of students will be responsible for the accounting when we collect the money.

We had a great time sharing this story, and we hope to raise money from our classmates, and teachers, and community to make a difference in the South Sudan.

South Sudan July 2012

Day 96: BWI Video Newsletter 1/16/15

BWI Video Newsletter, 1/16/15.