Thursday, February 9, 2012

Rethinking the School Day

Recently some staff members have kicked around ideas on how to provide intervention during the school day.  We feel our current school day is not meeting the needs of many students.  If a student wants help it is before/after school or during lunch if the student has the same lunch as the teacher (and the teacher is available).  This works for some but not all students have someone available to provide a ride early or get picked up late.  Plus there are the students who shall we say are not inclined to seek help.

Our current set up is a 72 minute 5 period day on trimesters.  Most courses are one or two trimesters long.  Some students do have a support period (special education mainly) but most do not.

We are thinking of a seminar period (for lack of a better name) where students can get support, enrichment or just plain study hall.  The catch is not all students have a choice.  If you have a D or E your are automatically placed into a support in that subject (if multiple subjects pick the weakest).  If you lowest grade is an  A or B you have a choice of an enrichment or study hall.  If your lowest grade is a C you have a choice of all 3.

This seminar period would be at the same time of the day so every teacher is involved.  The support option would have 15 students with a teacher. The enrichment and study hall options would have 30-35 students with a teacher.

The support option would be the teacher giving specific help, not necessarily just kids sitting there doing (or pretending) to do work.  Instead of having 15 students myself, I could see teaming up with another teacher and splitting our kids based on who needs help with what on that day.

The enrichment option would be opportunities for students to investigate something that interests them.  I could see a teacher building trebuchets and discussing the science and math behind them.  Another teacher might have students who love to read and they do book talks and/or create digital reviews (podcast, glogster, etc.). There could be a student newspaper group or a group to take on responsibility of the school web presence.  PE teacher could do sports science (not roll balls out and play but actually talk about and investigate the science of sports).  I can see this being opened up to students for what they might be interested in.

The study hall would be plain old study hall but we can do some skill building lessons for study habits.

In order to do this, we would need to cut some time from the other 5 periods to create the seminar period.  They would go from 72 to 65 so we would gain a 35 minute seminar period.  Is this enough time? Do we do this every day or Tuesday's and Thursday's only? These are questions more staff might have opinions on.  Thirty minutes seem short but not sure if 35 minutes would be enough.  If we did this every day that would be 35 minutes per week lost in instruction which is about 7 days lost over the course of a trimester.  That might be too much for some folks (we already feel rushed in trimesters).  On the other hand, if we are getting targeted support to all students who need or wish, would that make it so more could be accomplished?

Our ideas are nothing new or earth shattering.  I swear I have read examples of what some other schools are doing but of course I am unable to find that information (must have been pre diigo and Evernote).  I am hoping some others can share how their day is structured and any pros/cons.


1 comment:

  1. My school has a 1 hr learning lab time built into the schedule for interventions. Students may select or teachers may assign which learning lab students attend for additional help. It is the best part of our day!!