A Journey Through Technology

Week 1: How do we keep our lessons engaging? Does innovation play a part in this?

on January 21, 2017

One of my number one goals in the classroom is to keep my lessons engaging, yet this is often the number one thing I struggle with. As I started reading through Dave Burgess’s book Teach Like a Pirate, I found myself nodding as I read through his explanations of how to “teach like a pirate”. Pirate is actually an acronym: Passion, Immersion, Rapport, Ask and Analyze, Transformation, and Enthusiasm. (Burgess, 2012) These six aspects of teaching, according to Burgess, are the key to becoming a more engaging teacher.

Passion deals with the level of passion you have for being an educator. If you aren’t passionate about what you do, it’s hard to be engaging. Immersion means being physically involved in your class. Burgess gives a great example using swimming lessons. The swimming teacher that did the best in teaching his son was the teacher that got in the pool with him. Teachers need to be directly involved with their students if they want to keep them engaged. Having a good rapport with students allows teachers to connect with them and gives students a safe space, which can help students get more engaged in class.

Ask and Analyze is about “[c]oming up with creative ideas…by asking the right questions.” (Burgess, 2012, Kindle Loc. 116) Teachers often claim they aren’t creative, but creativity is something that takes work, and a good place to start is to ask the right questions. Transformation deals with changing expectations in the classroom to help overcome “roadblocks”. Enthusiasm deals with just that: being enthusiastic is a great way to keep your audience engaged. I’m sure we’ve all had experiences with boring speakers, so focusing on being enthusiastic is an important part of keeping students engaged in class.

But how do these six ideas involve innovation? Innovation in education typically deals with technology. According to the University of Washington, “[Technology] tools have a high potential for supporting student learning in creative and innovative ways when properly aligned with the instructor’s learning objectives and course content.” (The University of Washington) The University also shares a variety of technologies that can be helpful in education, such as online collaboration tools, presentation software, and tablets. I believe any of these technologies can allow teachers to meet the six parts of having a more engaging class.

To me, it makes sense for teachers to use technology to engage students in class. Most of my students have cell phones or other mobile devices that they are rarely seen without, so why not use technology in classrooms to help students learn and keep them engaged in class. “By training students to use technology appropriately and effectively and providing opportunities for them to reach learning targets through its usage, we create a situation in which students are engaged in learning.”(Kuntz, 2012)

I can see technology being involved in most, if not all six areas that Burgess discusses in his book. I really enjoyed reading some of the examples that Burgess provides for how to “teach like a pirate” and I look forward to coming up with some of my own. I want to become a more engaging teacher and make my classes more enjoyable for my students, so they are more involved, and in turn, are able to learn more.


Burgess, D. (2012). Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost your Creativity, and Transform your Life as an Educator. Dave Burgess Consulting. Kindle Edition.

Kuntz, B. (2012, June). Engage Students by Embracing Technology. Retrieved January 20, 2017, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/newsletters/education-update/jun12/vol54/num06/Engage-Students-by-Embracing-Technology.aspx

The University of Washington. (n.d.) Engaging Students in Learning. Retrieved January 20, 2017, from http://www.washington.edu/teaching/teaching-resources/engaging-students-in-learning/


2 responses to “Week 1: How do we keep our lessons engaging? Does innovation play a part in this?

  1. unicyclepro says:

    Funny you mention students bringing their own devices to school and are rarely without them. Well, this year I’ve had my students using class Chromebooks to access their online math resource during class. It so happens this resource can be accessed via most mobile devices too. Well, as I get upset with them for being on their phone during class (again), some of them respond that they are actually working on their resource. I say show me, and sure enough, they are at the appropriate website! Some students do utilize their devices for school use, but I have to admit that happens far below the proportion that use them for other activities. There is hope for this generation. 🙂


  2. Sarah,
    I agree with your comment “if you are not passionate about what you do, it is hard to be engaged.” The more engaged the more the students will respond and connected with each other. This is not an easy task with today’s diverse students. I do like the concept of using a hook to get the lesson plan going.



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