Tech Like A Pirate

Tech Like A PIRATE

“Don’t just teach a lesson. Create an EXPERIENCE.”

-Dave Burgess

My new book, "Tech Like A PIRATE", encourages teachers to provide those experiences by tapping into technology that grabs students’ attention immediately and redefines learning. We dive into 7 ways to grab your students attention with technology including resources you can use TOMORROW.

That line from Teach Like a PIRATE by Dave Burgess has stuck with me for years. It beckons us in, compelling us to engage our students in learning that’s memorable — that they’ll want to talk to others about! 

As I read through the book, I kept thinking …“Wow, you could do THAT with technology.” “Oh, if you use this one app, it would create SUCH an experience.” 

Tech Like a Pirate: 10 things you’ll find in the book

Can classroom technology help us create a memorable learning experience? In Tech Like a PIRATE, you'll get tons of practical ideas and inspiration. Here's a glimpse.

With the technology tools available in many classrooms, there is plenty of digital swashbuckling to do. Great apps, websites and devices provide opportunities to engage students and learn in ways that were never before possible. Sometimes that can be overwhelming and just getting started is a struggle.

Here is some of the best content we've published to help you get started and find ideas to set sail on  a great adventure!

Click on any picture below to jump directly to that section.

Social media and apps icon
images icon
video icon
exploration icon
games icon
global communication icon
collaboration icon
storytelling icon

Re-live the Wakelet Community Week Tech Like A PIRATE with Matt Miller session!

Social Media and Apps

Some teachers hear about the app that students are enamored with and try to shut it down. 

What if instead we use it as an opportunity?

Ask yourself, What is my students’ obsession with it?

What’s the hook that keeps them coming back?

And, more importantly, can I use it to create an experience in my classroom?

Below you will find lots of ways to harness the power of social media and apps in your classroom.

You don't need the app to create the experience!

10 ways to use social media in class (1)

Students use social media all the time. Let's put those skills to use! In these social media-inspired Google Slides templates, they can show what they know with their favorite apps. 

  • Yelp Review
  • Snapchat Games
  • Instagram stories
  • TikTok template
  • Pinterest Page
  • Netflix Template
  • YouTube Playlist
  • and MORE!

Use these hooks from social media in class tomorrow!

Each social media platform has something that makes it innately different. That uniqueness is what its fan base really loves about it. When social media platforms hang around, it's because something is working.

When we understand the hooks, we can use them to create unique activities that engage students in the same way their favorite social media platforms do.

Click here for 12 social media-inspired hooks you can use in your class activities right away!

12 social media inspired hooks for class

25 differentiation apps to check out!

This Differentiation "App"vent Calendar was created by Nate Ridgeway, co-author of Don't Ditch That Tech: Differentiated Instruction in a Digital World. These apps are popular with students and teachers alike. 

Check them out and see how you can use the "hook" from any one of these apps in your classroom.

There's lots more social media inspired learning to be found.

Here are our most popular posts on using social media and apps for learning in the classroom. 

Social media grabs many students' attention. You can capture some of that excitement without using the social media apps in ...

Read More
Create a TikTok-style experience with Google Slides

The TikTok video app is taking the world by storm. It has 500 million active users worldwide, and 41 percent ...

Read More

Students LOVE Snapchat games! You can tie them into your class WITHOUT needing the Snapchat app. Just use Google Slides!People ...

Read More
Using Google Slides to create Instagram stories in class (1)

You don't need the Instagram app to create the Instagram Stories experience. You just need Google Slides! Check out this ...

Read More

BIG NEWS! Tech Like a PIRATE is NOW available on Amazon! Make learning MEMORABLE! #Ditchbook #TechLAP

Click to Tweet


Can students mimic movies, game shows, TV, etc., to show what they know?

How can we emulate popular YouTube channels?

The power of video creation has huge potential to be harnessed for educational gain. Integrating video projects into the classroom can be as simple or complex as you want.

Four levels of video creation and the tools you need to get started

Level 1: Simple camera videos

Cell phone cameras can shoot high quality video and the webcam and microphone on laptops and Chromebooks will record video quickly and easily. Just grab a phone, digital camera or tablet and your students are on their way.


YouTube app (iPad/iPhone link) (Android link): Record a video on your phone or tablet and upload it directly to YouTube.

Google Drive: Record on a mobile device (or a Chromebook or a computer/laptop) and upload to Google Drive.

Screencastify: Record with the webcam (click the “Cam” tab) and it will save to your Google Drive or locally to your computer.

Record with WeVideo:

— Upload your own video clips and record your own audio.
— Use the webcam on your device to record a video easily.
— Free WeVideo student accounts: Let you export 7 1/2 minutes of video per month AND students can log in with their Google accounts!

Level 2: Online video creation apps

You don’t even need to use a video camera to create video! Lots of great, free web tools and apps let you create flashy video with text, images and existing video. Lots of apps are built to create fun videos that can demonstrate learning!


PowToon: A fun app for creating animated presentations and animated explainer videos.

 Flipgrid: Ask a question and have students respond via video clips. Students can watch each other’s videos or reply to each other’s videos with a video comment.

 Adobe Spark: Create videos from video clips, images and more. Record your voice and/or add music. 

 My Simple Show: Create explainer videos with images and your voice in minutes. It walks you through the process and creates a storyboard that you can fine-tune. Then you can publish your video to YouTube.

Green Screen by Do Ink: Replace the background of your video with a custom image or video. Creating a green screen background can be as simple as using a green tablecloth from the department store. 

Level 3: Screencast

 People communicate big, important ideas like this all the time using webinars. Screencast videos are easy and effective. They’re great for recording slides, creating tutorials, and making videos by mashing up other apps.


Screencastify: Screencastify makes screencasting simple. Record and upload to Google Drive or YouTube. Also captures your webcam!

Screencast-o-matic: Capture your screen, add a webcam and use narration to customize your video.

Educreations Interactive Whiteboard (free iPad app): Record from a virtual whiteboard on your iPad. Draw, write and annotate on images. Record your voice. Share with students (or students share with the teacher!).

Google Slides for stop motion: Create a slide, duplicate it, move something, duplicate the new slide, move something, etc. Repeat over and over. When you're done, record it using a tool like like Screencastify or Screencast-o-Matic. Record your voice with a microphone so you can narrate what's happening!

Other options for stop motion:

  • Stop Motion Studio (Free, iTunes)
  • LEGO Movie Maker (Free, iTunes)

Flipgrid: The Flipgrid Shorts Camera can also be used as an interactive whiteboard. Students can change the background to white or black then use the inking tool to draw directly on their blank background while recording.

Level 4: A REALLY awesome video project

Use an iPad or tablet? It’s easy to make a video that captures you drawing on a whiteboard and speaking through the microphone. Set up something with a camera. Aim it at a whiteboard or chalkboard. Record and start drawing. 


Create a whiteboard animation — Set up something with a camera so it won’t move (on a tripod or otherwise). Aim it at a whiteboard or chalkboard. Record and start drawing. Use video editing tools to speed it up to four times its normal speed and add a voiceover (and music?). Here’s a great blog post with the basics on how to create these videos

8 YouTube-inspired classroom video ideas

Our students have their favorite YouTubers and YouTube channels. They spend plenty of time there! Thankfully, several types of popular YouTube videos can make for great learning activities. We can play off these types of videos to create fun, engaging learning activities. Memorable learning activities. The kind that stick with students.

Making these video activities successful is less technical skill and more inspiration. In this post, you'll find eight types of popular YouTube videos, complete with classroom video ideas for using them.

Lights, camera, experience!

Now that you have lots of options for creating video, let’s use it to create a memorable experience!  

Here are tons of ways to get started.

Shorts season: An introduction to the NEW Flipgrid camera

The Flipgrid Shorts Camera is packed with possibilities. Check out some of the new features and get started creating! Mike ...

Read More

Creating great images, pages and video can spark students’ interest in learning. Adobe Express makes that possible for free. This ...

Read More

A Top 10 video is a fun way for students to show what they know in a way that's fun ...

Read More

Unboxing videos can be a really fun, effective way for your students to show what they know. Here's how to ...

Read More
20 video project ideas to engage students (1)

Integrating video projects into the classroom can be as simple or complex as you want. Cell phone cameras can shoot ...

Read More

Google Earth's new creation tools let students demonstrate their learning on a map. Tell stories. Share information. Then share it ...

Read More

Creating is memorable. When students learn something and then can create something with it -- a digital project, a story, ...

Read More

Video is so easy to create in the classroom now. What used to take expensive equipment and advanced know-how can ...

Read More

Screencastify makes it easy to record video of your screen or with your webcam. Here are 24 ideas for classroom ...

Read More
virtual walking tours with google maps street view (1)

Think about a meaningful trip you've taken far from home. Maybe it was a vacation with family. Maybe it was ...

Read More

Creating stop-motion animation with Google Slides is easy! These tips will help your animations look phenomenal!This post is written by ...

Read More

We have had students turn in documents, slide presentations and spreadsheets digitally for a long time.We're comfortable with them. They're ...

Read More


Board games, mobile game apps, video game consoles, etc. …

What are their popular features that we can bring into class and student creations?

Tools for gamifying your classroom

MORE games for your classroom!

There are TONS of games like Kahoot! that you can use in your classroom. Many include pre-created games that you can use right away! Check out 10 MORE games like Kahoot!, Quizizz, Quizlet & Gimkit for a link and description of each tool.

10 Games like Kahoot

10 game hooks to inspire learning in your class

Even the smallest game element can transform a dull learning activity into an experience. The trick? Finding the right way to connect the games and the learning together.

Thankfully, we have LOTS of examples to draw upon. By looking at popular games, we can learn what successful game elements -- or hooks -- they use. Ideas can come from the following. 

Get inspired by these 10 game hooks you can use to add small game elements -- or total gamification -- to your class!

Game templates you can use tomorrow!

8 Google Slides Game show templates

8 Google Slides game show templates

Looking for MORE game show templates for the classroom? 

Well, we've got you covered. In addition to the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Family Feud game show templates we have 6 more that will keep your class excited and engaged in learning!

Get even MORE games!

Here are some of our top game-based learning posts. 

40+ digital escape rooms (plus a step by step guide for creating your own)

Digital escape rooms bring the excitement of hunting for clues and the joy of solving puzzles right to your student’s ...

Read More
gameshow classroom comparing kahoot quizizz quizlet live gimkit

The best features of game shows can be used to review and teach in the classroom. Kahoot!, Quizizz, Quizlet Live, ...

Read More

Games are fun. We love playing them, watching them and even creating them. But how can we bring elements of ...

Read More
Themes, teams, and side quests: A superhero’s guide to gamification

Games are fun. They add excitement, engagement, and some friendly competition. Building your games around a theme takes your gamification ...

Read More
QR Break In post title image

When we leverage the engagement that comes with game-based activities, powerful learning can occur. Add the fun and excitement of ...

Read More
add family feud style game to class pd

Games can make class and professional development more fun! Here are the steps to create a Family Feud-style. (Family Feud ...

Read More
End the school year with Epic Review Olympics (free templates!)

The end of the school year is high time for review. Make your experience EPIC with the review to end ...

Read More

When my son was 5 years old he loved the game Clash of Clans. If you've never played this online ...

Read More


What digital/physical collaboration spaces are there?

How can we build in dialogue and discussion?

How can students respond to each other’s work?

Tools for digital collaboration

Collaboration ideas for your class

Here are some of our top collaboration posts. 

Teamwork is a desirable job skill in today's economy. When we let students collaborate, we prepare them for the future! ...

Read More
30 collaborative google apps activities for schools

G Suite Apps are collaborative, which makes them highly powerful. They offer opportunities for students to engage unlike ever before. ...

Read More

When students create digitally, that doesn't mean they can't interact face to face. The digital gallery walk blends digital and ...

Read More

Students can collaborate and share their visual ideas digitally using AWW. See the key features and how you can use ...

Read More


What social media-style images fit this lesson?

Can students build infographics to share learning?

What fun visuals are being shared online?

Image creation tools, tips and ideas for the classroom

Here are some of our top resources for using images with your students. 

AI image generators: 10 tools, 10 classroom uses

In this post you'll find:

  • 10 things to know about AI image generators
  • 10 AI image generators you can use in the classroom
  • 10 classroom ideas that use AI image generators

10 image creation tools for students

Our brains love images. They let students really show what they know.

Here are 10 tools students can use to create images.

How to get and use free images the RIGHT way in class

Images can bring presentations, reports and other student work to life. Students should learn to use images responsibly. Here’s what you need to know to help them.


What can students learn on their own?

How can students choose their topic or focus?

Can students learn a skill through videos/tutorials?

Tools for exploration

Exploration ideas for your class

Here are some of our top exploration resources for your class. 

Google Maps walking tours with Street View and Screencastify

Street View in Google Maps lets us see what life is like on the street all over the world. It can help create more emotional connections to a place, which can spark learning.Teachers: Help students make something with that experience! Have them create a walking tour with Google Maps Street View and a screen recorder like Screencastify. It's really easy and only takes a little prep work by the students (not you!) to make it happen. Check out all the steps in this tutorial video!

Virtual field trips allow us to take our students where the bus can’t. Here are 25 field trips and 10 ...

Read More

A school bus isn't required for a fun educational experience! Live streams can be a great way to connect students ...

Read More

Google Earth's new creation tools let students demonstrate their learning on a map. Tell stories. Share information. Then share it ...

Read More

With Google MyMaps you can take your kids on an educational road trip right from your classroom.  This post comes ...

Read More
virtual walking tours with google maps street view (1)

Think about a meaningful trip you've taken far from home. Maybe it was a vacation with family. Maybe it was ...

Read More

Take virtual field trips all over the world from the comfort of your classroom. Use Google Maps Street View to ...

Read More

Global Communication

Who can you bring to your class virtually?

Can students interact digitally with another class?

Where can you travel via video call?

Using video calls in the classroom to communicate globally

Classroom video calls. You can do this. Here’s how.

Classroom video calls. You can do this. Here’s how.

Chances are, you're already doing video calls in your personal life. Using them in the classroom is easier than you might think! Here's how.

Useful infographics

Tips for successful virtual meetings with Google Meet
20 ways to use microsoft teams video meetings like a pro (1)

Global communication ideas for your class

Here are some of our top global communication resources for your class. 

About Mystery Skypes and why we need more

Mystery Skypes can break down a classroom's walls and open students up to the world. They're easy to set up and can be transformational.

20 easy ways to collaborate globally with your class now

20 easy ways to collaborate globally with your class now

Using video call tools like Skype or Google Hangouts, students can connect with people, places and experiences. Here are 20 ways to do it.

find class partner with virtually activities to do together (2) (1)

Finding a class to partner with virtually AND activities to do together

Video calls can get your students connected to others just like them around the country and world! Here's how to do it using Skype, Google Hangouts and others.


Characters? Conflict? Resolution?

What’s the story arc in our content?

Whose story can we tell?

Read the "lost chapter" from Tech Like a PIRATE.

This post is adapted from a chapter in the original manuscript for my book, Tech Like a PIRATE. The chapter didn't make the final draft of the book because of space constraints. However, I'm sharing it here in hopes that it helps you!

Storytelling: Bringing the power of stories to your teaching

Stories draw us in. They capture our attention. When we use powerful elements of storytelling in our instruction, it can transform learning.

Storytelling ideas for your class

Here are some of our top storytelling resources for your class. 

Learning math through story: Examples from one teacher’s classroom

You don’t see storytelling in a math class that often. But Missouri math teacher Mandi Tolen’s class isn’t the traditional type you’ve seen for decades in schools. Here's how she does it.

Choice stories let students make choices and decisions. Plus, they show what they know by creating! You come to the ...

Read More

Comic strips captivated us as children. Tap into that energy in the classroom with Google Drawings comic strips! Here’s how. ...

Read More

Tech Like a Pirate Webinars and Podcasts

Getting started with technology in the classroom can be overwhelming and it's hard to know where to start. In my latest Ditch Summit presentation I shared lots of practical ideas. 

How can we create a learning EXPERIENCE using technology? Here are the ideas I shared at the Spring CUE conference … the kinds of ideas that will be in Tech Like a PIRATE.

Get YOUR copy of Tech Like A Pirate!

The rise of digital culture has left some teachers and their students distracted, divided, and overwhelmed. But Tech Like a PIRATE brings educators flexible strategies for creating classroom tech experiences that will electrify student engagement.

You don't have to be a tech genius--just willing to try!

“If class is so forgettable, how can we expect students to remember?”

Click to Tweet

After about three or four years of teaching high school Spanish in the traditional way, straight from the textbook, I started to realize something.  The students in my high school Spanish classes couldn't speak Spanish.  I was beginning to see was that all of those traditional teaching practices and all of those things that teachers have done for years and years and years just didn't work.

I had this moment when I started to realize that the thing that I was
missing was attention. I was missing my students attention because when we went through and we did those activities out of the book and the workbook pages and the worksheets and all of that stuff my students didn't really care about that much, it was really easy for them to turn that attention switch to OFF.

I started to find that when I was able to keep their attention hold on to their attention all of a sudden those things that we were doing in class that started to stick. There was a book that I read really early on that really kind of sparked my thinking on this and that book just happened to be, Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess. In it Dave said "Don't just teach a lesson create an experience". 

The experiences are the things that are really gonna stick with students. That started to make me think totally differently about my teaching but it also got me to think about how I was using technology in the classroom. I kept asking myself "is it possible to get that kind of attention using technology?"

The more that I practiced with it the more I realized that the answer is yes it is an absolute yes. We can get students attention and do meaningful learning while
incorporating technology and I think the technology can enhance the process.

It's not just fluff or nonsense, creating an experience for our students is the kind of thing that our teaching often needs to be able to get the results that we want and it's backed by science. In his book the happiness advantage Shawn Anchor writes that whenever our emotional state is at positive, not just at neutral and not at negative, but when our emotional state is at positive we are 31% more productive. Neuroscience studies tell us that emotional that the events that happen that are tied to emotion have a privileged status in our memories if there's emotion tied to them. The National Institute for play that says that play based learning with playful teachers heightens overall long-term performance by students and so you start to look at all of this stuff and here's the big conclusion that I came to with.

 If class is so forgettable how can we expect students to remember? 

If we don't take the time to engage our students and grab their attention how can we expect them to remember? How can we expect them to learn if they're not

This is the idea behind Tech Like A Pirate. If we want to be able to grab that attention, harness that attention and use it for real serious learning that actually works and how can technology play a part in that.

So if you're ready to learn how to use technology to help us grab students attention and to bring learning to new levels then join us as we set sail on a techy pirate adventure.

Ready to take your tech skills -- and student learning -- to another level?