Tomorrow will be the last day to my first week of school. *exhaling my held in breath* I realized that no matter how many years I have been doing this I still get super nervous for this first week. Even though at my school my students are NOT new to me…I just had them “last year” (2.5 months ago). I STILL get nervous!!! I am guessing that this feeling will not go away but this year is starting with great relief. My school has gone through some changes this year and the first week is really proving these changes to be successful for students. The biggest change is the schedule. Last year we had this awkward “rotating” schedule that consisted of 88 minutes periods. I would see students a minimum of 2 times a week (every other day) and on some weeks I would get to see them 3 times. Now if you are trying to teach some classes like Graphic Design, Foodservice or Auto Tech, 88 minutes is not that hard to keep students engaged however try teaching an 88 minute mathematics class. After 3 years of this schedule, I realized it is EXTREMELY hard to keep students engaged for 88 minutes and now with our schedule changed to 5-50 minute periods (to be seen everyday) and then 2-100 minute periods (to be seen every other day). WHOA!! WHAT A DIFFERENCE IT MAKES!
There is such a difference in my student’s ability to stay engaged for 50 minutes than for 88 minutes. Now don’t get me wrong I am very into hands on learning and learning through discovery and what not but sometimes learning is hands down painful for some students. These are my students. They need shorter periods of time on a more consistent basis (everyday) so they can really focus on the quality teaching. At this point, I am seeing the difference of a quality 50 min lesson in comparison to a quantity 88 min lesson. My students are a lot more engaged in our 50 min lesson and they are able to keep the connections between the days. Not being able to see my students everyday, last year, made it hard to solidify concepts and for students to make connections. The connections seen in two days of our counting circle has already got me sold and my students are feeling pretty successful. Please don’t get me wrong it is not that I think every class will be this successful with 50 mins but it works for my class. I am pretty sure Frank needs more than 50 mins for the modeling instruction he does in his class. However I am interested in what other math teachers do? Are you able to keep your kids positive engaged in mathematics class for 88 mins or more? If so what does a typical period look like? Also another question that comes to my mind, what if Khan Academy’s videos were being used during an 88 min class? How many students would still be engaged? I am not talking about the projects (robots) Khan Academy talks about. I am talking about the videos/lessons, drills/exercises? How engaging (not successful) are those lessons?