Student-Led Classroom

If you’re interested in creating a student-led classroom and building a classroom culture to help it thrive, you’ve found the right page!  Many of the reflections below are inspired by Paul Solarz’s book, Learn Like a Pirate, and will give you insight into how his suggestions for empowering students were used with my third and fourth graders. Here’s a link for more information on the book.  You can find Paul on Twitter @PaulSolarz, on Facebook @LearnLAP, on Pinterest and on the web at  If you’re not on Twitter yet, participating in a #LearnLAP chat is a great reason to get started!  #LearnLAP chats are typically held on Monday evenings at 7 pm CST.  During the summer months, Paul hosts a 6-week Learn Like a Pirate book study on Twitter and on Facebook.  Both Paul and the entire #LearnLAP crew are some of the most incredibly positive, enthusiastic, and supportive educators you’ll ever meet!  Hope to see you on the Learn Like a Pirate deck soon!

  1. Compliance or Empowerment?  You Be the Judge.  Check out a picture of my class:  Can you tell what makes this class a student-led class?  Read more.
  2. Count Your Marbles:  They’re All There in Theory.  Mentioned in Learn Like a Pirate, the Marble Theory is a great lesson to teach at the beginning of the school year.  Why? Read more.
  3. Every “Owie” Deserves the Same BAND-AID, Right?  The BAND-AID lesson helps teach equity to children and naturally follows The Marble Theory.  Read more to learn this additional way to build classroom culture.
  4. Teaching Growth Mindset with Famous Failures.  Although not specifically mentioned in Learn Like a Pirate, learning about famous failures is one great way to teach growth mindset to Upper Elementary students.   Read more to see how this is taught at the beginning of the school year.
  5. Give Me Fives:  Love ‘Em, Love ‘Em Not.  In our student-led classroom, the power to interrupt with a Give Me 5 is given to the students.  Learn how it looks and sounds on a typical day and how we really feel about this privilege.  Read more.
  6. Before Your First Mystery Skype.  Paul writes about the value of Mystery Skype and we finally participated in several this year.  It only takes one experience to learn some important tips!  Read more.
  7. Learning Until the Last Bell.  Activities for those last days of school, including a preview of the infamous Silent Day.  Read more.
  8. Hey! Hey! It’s Silent Day!  We did Silent Day in third grade and again in fourth, only in fourth we switched classes for Language Arts, Math and Science/Social Studies.  How did we mateys fare on this Silent Day voyage with two teachers and 50 students on two different decks? Read more.
  9. Two Words for Every Educator’s Toolkit.  Paul writes about the many different ways that he builds classroom culture from day one with his students.  In addition to his suggestions, we incorporate Angela Maiers’s #YouMatter mission into ours.  Read more.
Reflections on this Student-Led Classroom page are inspired by Paul Solarz’s book Learn Like a Pirate and will give teachers a peek inside our 3rd & 4th grade classrooms implementing his suggestions for empowering students.