Play Like a Pirate by Quinn Rollins
Reviewed by Erin Whalen
In this 2016 book from Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc., author Quinn Rollins takes us on a journey of bringing fun back into our classrooms through play. Each of the three sections, Toys, Games, and Superheroes, Graphic Novels, & Comic Strips, reminds us of the importance of play and how greatly play can help us connect with our students. Play is also a fantastic way to help your students connect with the content. Play is not just about fun; play is good for the brain and for long-term memory. Play does not have to be a break from content; it can be fully integrated with content to deepen understanding and foster retention of the curriculum.
I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical of how toys could be used as a teaching or assessment tool, but Rollins quickly erased my doubts.
The way Rollins uses toys is truly innovative.
As I was reading the chapter on action figures and how students create their own packaging for a historical action figure, I could easily picture an enthusiastic and motivated group of students. The depth of knowledge students would gain by having to be so succinct with their project would be far greater than what they would get from a worksheet or traditional biography assignment.
From gamification to board games, Minecraft (of course!) to the unexpected trading cards chapter, the innovation continues in section two.
My favorite part of this section is Rollins’ comment on when everyone wins: “This undermines students’ motivation to play games as much as, ‘You’re all losers! Boo!’ Let kids lose. Don’t destroy their lives or anything, but let them lose. They’ll get over it by the next class period, and you’ll give them another chance to win in a different game someday.” Games are a great review tool but can also be a teaching tool. Learn to go beyond Jeopardy! and use games as a motivating tool.
Superheroes, Graphic Novels, and Comic Strips
Content, Connection, and Communication!
This is the section I personally relate to the least. Superheroes and graphic novels were not really part of my childhood. I had a fabulous childhood, but none of my siblings nor I ever really got into superheroes or graphic novels. We did love comic strips though, especially Calvin and Hobbes. Why am I telling you this about me? Ironically, because teaching is not about us. It’s about the kids. As a teacher, I learned more about superheroes than I ever did as a kid, because it was a way of connecting with my students. Whether you, like Rollins, have always enjoyed these things, or, like me, have not, you can use them as teaching tool.
As a former teacher, reading this book made me want to teach again. Right now. My mind is exploding with ideas and energy and it makes me want to get back in a classroom immediately. What better endorsement is there than that?!
You can find Rollins at QuinnRollins.com, on Twitter @jedikermit, and can purchase his book with the Amazon link below. To purchase multiple copies, please email Wendy at firstname.lastname@example.org.