Writing my way through the school year!

via Pinerly - your Pinterest friendly dashboard: http://www.pinerly.com/i/6xM2A  This is how I feel at the end a day with my students! LOL

I don’t know about you, but this is how I feel at the end of each day with my students, (see pic above), and that’s with a group that’s not too difficult!

And now, they’re thinking of extending the school day? Well, I feel two ways about this, it depends on why they want to extend the school day.  If they want to extend the day to fit in more test prep for more standardized testing, I shout a resounding “No!”.  If they are extending the day to fit in more meaningless, unproductive PD, then my vote is “Nay!”.  If the day is longer, so that our students are held captive by another boring lecture, or another series of worksheets, I put my foot down to such a ridiculous notion!

It’s bad enough that we subject our children to this type of classroom in a 6 1/2 hour day, can you imagine extending this torture? We have a difficult time keeping our students from dropping out now. What would an extended day do to those statistics? And the way education is heading now, no recess, elimination of the arts, field trips banned due to budget cuts, and/or standardized testing, and test  prep, who wants to spend another minute in a classroom? I am not even going to touch the issues of teachers’ salary, and the fact that they can barely pay to keep the schools open now.

Here’s my idea of an extended school day, as idealistic as it may seem.  Within that extra hour (or two), we enrich their lives. We don’t hand out any worksheets filled with mundane problems.  We don’t bore them to tears with another passage testing whether or not they can identify the main idea. We don’t give them another 5 paragraph writing prompt about something they either, a. Have no experience with, or b. Could care less about. We should enrich their lives.

Maybe teachers can create groups consisting of students from all grade levels. (Writing, drama, math,business). Maybe we can focus on projects that help others in the community. How about a field trip that we don’t have to rush back from? (Ever try a class trip to the zoo in two hours?) Or Skyping with that class in another time zone? Pulling small groups of struggling students and helping them really comprehend the material? Or eliminating the need for busy work camouflaged as homework?  And my personal favorite, book clubs! Reading for the sake of reading! Aaaaah…

Yes, maybe, it’s just a dream, but that’s what I would do with an extra hour, (or two), in the classroom, what would you do with yours?

Comments on: "What Would You Do With a Longer School Day?" (6)

  1. Some great points here. As a private music teacher for over 40 years, I am saddened by the cutbacks in areas that are SO ESSENTIAL – certainly more so than preparing for fill-in-the-dots and the like that are being passed off as ‘education’ these days.

    Having said that, are you kidding me? My daughter is only in grade three and I’m NOT looking forward to when the ‘real homework’ starts. It’s 7:00 PM as I write this and my daughter’s ‘school day’ hasn’t ended yet.

    Further, as conscientious parents who also work all day, this means OUR day doesn’t end until our children’s homework is done.

    Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not blaming the teacher or school system. My daughter isn’t one of those gifted kids and God knows it takes an iron fist to keep her focused. Oh, how grateful I am not to have to spend a day with 25-30 of HER in one class! 🙂

    Truth be told, my wife and I would spend the time with her anyway because education is important to us. I often wonder why I send my kid to school during the day at all since she learns the most, and BEST, when she is home!

    All the best from Toronto,

  2. A longer school day, how about if we actually teach something the students are interested in learning? Maybe some of you remember when we did interest inventories and actually used them to develop groups, invited in community members who taught students anything and everything from the science of cooking to the math behind art, to the history of the airplane? Content was integrated and interesting. Students were totally absorbed in what was being taught. They were happy to read about the content because the content was of interest to them. They worked diligently at solving problems because the problems were meaningful to them. Teaching was fun and learning was evident. What would I do with more time? I would bring back the fun of learning for my students and the fun of teaching for teachers. Of course, I would have to be in charge of the world, and that’s not going to happen now, is it?

  3. So much of the typical school day is filled wasted time and disruptions. Extending the length of the day would only waste more time and introduce more disruptions. I fully agree that students need to be engaged in the learning process and that after school or extended day enrichment projects hold great promise, but first why not trim the fat in the regular school day?

  4. I agree… its ridiculous to extend the school day. By 3:00, the students AND the teachers have had it, and dragging it out for an extra hour would be torturous and unproductive. I like your idea of using an extra hour to do something enriching that you might not be able to do in a regular school day. It could be as simple as, require every student to pick just two days a week to stay after school for an activity of their choice, and offer things like art, creative writing, science club, service over self club, or whatever kids dream up. (Did you ever watch the show New Girl? She’s a teacher, and although you don’t get to see her at school much, she does mention that she uses the last hour of the class as “Dream Time,” where the kids can work on any creative project they can dream up! I love that idea!)

  5. For 4 years I coached Odyssey of the Mind at the upper elementary level. We usually started by forming the team in October and we met for an hour and a half after school four days each week until the competition in April. if we won our region we continued until the State competition in May. If you are not familiar with Odyssey of the Mind, it is a program intended to challenge gifted students. There are several types of challenge but the one my teams always chose was a drama based challenge. For example one year they had to produce an 8 minute Vaudeville Show. Another year they had to create a skit about a Tall Tale Character they invented (Ours was a super inventive Hairdresser, sort of the Paul Bunyan of the Beauty Salon) The kids had to write their skits, make thier props, get their own costumes. In effect they had to do it all themselves. My job was to advise them and to make sure they did not get outside help.

    Odyssey of the Mind was originally developed for suburban schools and my school was inner-city. All of my students lived in poverty-stricken, crime infested housing developments. All of our opponents were from fairly well to do suburbs. Three of the four years we competed we placed either first or second in our district. Once we came in fourth at the state level. Every year we were the only all Black team.

    I coached these teams after teaching a full schedule in a fifth grade classroom all day. The time I spent after school with the OM team was the highlight of my day. I do not know if OM raised their test scores or not. I know for a fact it raised their morale and self esteem and enriched their school experience.

    At the beginning of the fifth year our principal said OM cost too much and we stopped having it. I felt a personal loss and I wish I had held fund raisers and continued without school funding.

  6. throwslikeagirl74 said:

    We’re already at a 7 hour day, 8 if you count our zero hour music program or the after school reading program. I can’t imagine adding more. I think that would be a breaking point for a lot of teachers and students.

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