September 19th is Talk Like a Pirate Day. There are so many fun pirate stories out there, and each year we seem to discover a few more thanks to the connections we make around the globe through Google Hangouts and Skype. Planning a day of connections like this definitely takes some time but students love talking with people around the globe, sharing a story, and learning a bit about one another. It always seems to reinforce the idea that we aren’t alone in our bubble of routines of day to day life. There are other people out there doing the same things that we are and quite possibly they are doing those things in different ways. I love the spontaneous conversations that take place on days like this that you could never plan through a standard or a lesson plan. Students always bring up a question or a comment that makes the day special.
This year, 8 classes came to the library for Talk Like a Pirate Day and we connected with 6 different schools in 5 different states.
- We connected with Edie Crook in Gastonia North Carolina to read the book No Pirates Allowed Said Library Lou. We had a great conversation about “treasure” and students took turns stepping up to say what treasure meant to them. We were delighted with words such as being kind, family, friends, Skylanders, and baseball.
- We connected with Jan Pelias through Google Hangouts in Frisco Texas to read the book How I Became a Pirate. It was fun to connect with someone in another time zone because we could talk about how time is different at the same moment around the world.
- We connected with Melanie Thompson in Jefferson City, Missouri to read the book How I Became a Pirate. Melanie’s students had researched pirates and they took time to share all of their facts. This made our students very curious about pirates as well. I have a feeling all of our nonfiction pirate books will be checked out for a long time. I also love how Melanie embraced her inner pirate as we chatted with each other through Skype chat prior to our connection!
- We connected with Okle Miller in Tampa, Florida to read the book No Pirates Allowed Said Library Lou. Tampa has a pirate festival called Gasparilla . Students loved hearing how pirates take over Tampa during this festival and kidnap the mayor (all for fun). The class we connected with even called themselves pirates and used the word “pirate” as an acronym for their classroom expectations and beliefs.
- Both of our PreK classes came to the library for their first visit of the year. In class, they made pirate hats and hooks as well as added some pirate mustaches to their faces. We read the book Pirates Go to School and made a class video chanting the pirate chant at the end of the book.
- We connected with Carol Scrimgeour in Essex Town, Vermont to read the book No Pirates Allowed Said Library Lou. We noticed that all of the kids were wearing warm clothes, so we had a great conversation about how cold it had been in the northeast. It was sunny in both places but with a very different temperature.
- Finally, we connected with Shawna Ford in Texas and she read a new pirate book we had not heard before: No Bath No Cake Polly’s Pirate Party. Now the students want to get it for our library.
Before each connection, we looked at a map from our school to the school we were connecting with. We talked about distance, travel time, and also all of the decisions that go into choosing your route for a trip. We also created a Google tour of our trip using Google Tour Builder. After each connection, we wrote a summary together.
We also created a Padlet to write pirate sentences. This was shared with our friends around the country and became a place to crowdsource our words.
Finally, we spent a lot of time creating pirate sentences, phrases, and even conversations and practicing them aloud. Students had access to a list of pirate vocabulary words as well as multiple pirate stories to get ideas.
We used Flipgrid as a place to record our favorite pirate expressions. Students also had a great time trying to imitate a pirate voice and pirate faces and gestures. Take a moment to listen to them because they are quite entertaining! I loved how this evolved from a sentence writing activity into a practice of fluency, oral speaking, and performance. Again, Flipgrid became a place for us to crowdsource our voices with the voices of our connecting schools.
I love how these events connect us with new people around the world. This year we connected with some old friends, but we also met some new teachers, librarians, and students we hope to connect with again. I also want to continue to think about days like this to build long term collaborative relationships.