I invite you to brainstorm, share, suggest ideas for a Middle School schedule. Please help by providing your thoughts about what a school schedule could look like for students in grades 5-8, ranging in age from 9 to 14.
This past year our Scheduling Committee solicited feedback from our faculty about our current schedule: what works, what changes they would like to see, and what doesn’t work. Each of us on the Committee also visited a number of schools. Next year we will attempt to re-craft our existing schedule, with the aim of improving the overall atmosphere: less hectic…better suited to learning…focused on the kids…ability for more cross curricular involvement (currently easy to do in the 5th grade because the schedule has large blocks and students stay together as groups rather than following individualized schedules).
At present, we have a separate schedule for 5th grade, and then grades 6-8 have similar (but not identical) schedules. Our day begins at 8:05, and our classes are currently 43 minutes in length (except for the 5th grade, which has flexible longer blocks). Our students take Science, Math, Social Studies, Language Arts (what was called English back when I was a kid), and a language (Latin, French, Spanish or Mandarin). In addition, 5th and 6th graders take required “specials”, and 7th and 8th graders can choose from a wide range of electives. Below is a chart of the items that cannot be altered.
If you were crafting a schedule for these kids, what would you do? How would you organize their day? There is no right or wrong suggestion – just toss in your ideas! Your assistance is appreciated, you are coming from a different perspective, what better way to generate ideas!
Thank You for stopping by and leaving a comment!
As some of you may already know, I am a guest blogger at SharpBrains.com. (You can see my various posts here.) My past two posts have each garnered comments, and each post had one comment, in particular, to which I replied. The topics are important enough to garner their own update on Neurons Firing.
SLEEP and SCHEDULES
The National Middle Schools Association – research summary about flexible schedules
The Principals’ Partnership Research Brief on High School Schedules
I have written here about sleep and about school calendars. My September 5th SharpBrains post, Reorganizing School Schedules: Start Times, Light, Scheduling, received a comment from a parent who is concerned about the impact of her children’s school schedule on their ability to focus. As a result of her inquiry, here are some resources about school schedules, which include discussions of block and flexible schedules.
My most recent SharpBrains post is a review of James Zull’s book, about which I have also written here. (You can use the search bar in the upper right to find all of my posts about Zull.) The author of the comment was a bit miffed at what he considered the trivial conclusion that “Teaching is the art of changing the brain”; I was compelled to respond with the following:
Yes, anything and everything in which we engage can change our brains. Indeed, most teachers are hoping for change that lasts and is substantive, not superficial. However, I am willing to bet most teachers do not consciously stop to think about what they do in terms of physically changing the brain of the learner.
Zull’s book does an exemplary job of explaining what happens in the brain as it learns and changes. Teachers appreciate tools and explanations that are useful, understandable and immediately applicable. By placing the biological results of learning front and center, Zull provides an account of what is happening in the brain, giving teachers an insight into the (hoped for) results of their efforts. This may help some understand why what they do works, and may provide others with a fresh toolbox for figuring out ways to make an impact on a learner’s brain.
The conclusion may seem trivial to those well-versed in biology, but to those whose lens is filtered by a room full of children or young adults, thinking of teaching as the art of changing the brain may seem rather empowering.
Looks like in order for the calendar to appear at the right I have to add my first post. Have been mulling over how to start and I guess it’s just a matter of jumping in. The calendar seems an apt beginning because for the bulk of my life the school calendar has organized my personal rhythms: k-12 (13 years) followed by college (which took ten years) and teaching (in my 25th year).
By all accounts, the current school calendar has been pretty much the same one in existence since the start of formalized education in the United States. Not only do we continue to mostly adhere to the September to June pattern of classes, but despite research showing that the adolescent brain wakes later and gets tired at hours not in synch with school start and end times, we mostly continue to have middle and high school days that run from 7:30, 8:00 or 8:30 a.m. till around 3:00 p.m.
Why don’t we have creative scheduling of school terms along with flexible daily school hours?
Imagine a school where September through March you studied a particular topic through the lens of different subjects and then April through August you participated in experiential, off-campus travel-work opportunities. And of course there would be vacation times spread throughout the entire year (that means summer too!). Imagine a school where morning early birds and late night owls could all pursue learning during their prime hours of alertness.
Frontline: Inside the Teenage Brain: from zzzzz’s to a’s