Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Explore Like a Pirate Book Study Ch. 8

Today I am linking up with Sweet Sweet Primary for our book study of Michael Matera's book Explore Like a Pirate.  Join us each Tuesday as we share our takeaways from this book that is all about engaging your students. If you missed my previous posts you can find them here:

This chapter adds to chapter seven's emphasis on tools, focusing on stockpiling items and earning badges.

Matera gives some examples of badges he uses in his class, but he suggests that you modify them to best meet the needs of your students and classroom.  

In his class, Matera uses two types of badges: leader badges and mini-badges.  Leader badges are earned by going on side quests (optional activities done for enrichment).  Mini-badges are given out on days when Matera needs high participation and student input.


This does not necessarily have to be money, but can be instead items that may benefit players in the game.  One item Paul uses in his classroom game is a small sword.  In his game, a small sword adds 20 battle points to the player.  In his class, students keep battle points in a sheet in their binder.  He suggests using card holders such as these.

 Battle points can be used in several different ways. Matera uses a Jeopardy style review game, and before play, teams tally their combined battle points and this total becomes their beginning score in the game.  

As an added bonus, if one of your math standards is adding together large numbers - your students will also be getting practice with this skill!  

Battle points can also be used to buy benefits such as:

  • second chances on questions
  • extra points on questions answered correctly
  • safety nets to avoid later penalties

Rule Benders and Modifiers

Matera says that these are "just plain fun".  He explains that students love them because of the fun ability to break or bend rules of the game in their favor.

One example he gives is the use of dice.  I know in my classroom that adding dice to anything can immediately up the fun factor and student buy-in. Matera suggests letting students roll for extra points when they first get to class. He says you can even use this as a motivation to get to class early by cutting it off as soon as the bell rings.

Although the beginning was a bit slow, these last few chapters really are getting me excited about all of the possibilities for gamifying my classroom this year.

Have you read this book? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!


  1. We really appreciate you blogging about Explore Like a Pirate, Kelly! #gratitude #XPLAP

  2. Have I read this book? You bet! I even wrote it... Thanks much for blogging about Explore Like a Pirate... I hope you check out new reviews of games and tools we can use in our gamified classroom on explorelikeapirate.com

    Game on!


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