by John Flanagan
A surprising and exciting book, the ranger Will has been appointed his first big mission to go inspect a Sorcerer in the north!
This is my favorite Fantasy novel and you should read the series! – Quinn
Description: This story is about a boy named Greg Heffley and summer vacation. All his friends want to play outside in the sun. Greg has a different idea of a great summer: stay inside, eat junk food, and play video games. But Greg’s mom has another idea for an awesome summer: one with lots of outdoor activities and hanging out with each other.
Why I love this book: I loved this book because it was fun to read and very funny. It’s one of those books you can’t stop reading. I think you should read it too.
At the end of another summer, I find myself revisiting an old question once again, Year-Round School. (Read previous related blogs Summer Controversy and Longer School Day/Year) As pointed out in this article there are many different forms of year-round school and the data is inconsistent on the effectiveness of it.
However, I am a proponent of year-round school and we have modeled our own school this way for the following reasons:
1. According to Duke University, the average student loses approximately 1 month of learning during the summer months, but for some students it is even more!
2. Memory must be used to be maintained. Insuring information is stored in long-term memory rather than short-term is key to learning. Read a great article about memory here.
3. It seems to be what most parents want, in my experience. This summer we had a math class with 4-5 students in both sessions. We had several students attending morning summer school classes that we offered. Also, we worked with 10 or more students individually, on a consistent basis, over the summer. People want their kids to learn in the summer, not just play!
4. Chunking is an important strategy in the learning process. By having smaller session periods of 3-5 weeks, with a short break in between, we allow for greater chunking of topics with a clear break in between units.
I have to add one other thing, while we are increasing the number of school days to 185 and chunking our learning into 3-5 week blocks with 1 week off in between, we are not extending the school day. In fact, we are shortening it to just 4 hours, leaving the afternoons open for students to experience a variety of opportunities in the afternoons. We want our students to explore their community by participating and contributing while gaining hands-on experiences. So if a student is interested in golf, why not intern or get a part-time job at a local golf course. Also, since jobs are not a one day a week experience, let’s chunk the learning here as well by providing the opportunity for these interactions multiple days of the week.
What are your thoughts on year-round school? Shortened learning days? Daily opportunities for hands-on experience? Is it a good idea or a bad idea?
I wanted to take the time this week to reflect on a few things and get a little more personal about something that has really affected me. As many of you know, I have a passion for teaching that often overwhelms me, even to the point of tears, when I hear some of the sad stories about what is happening to kids with disabilities currently in the local public schools. For those of you who don’t know me, you will just have to take my word on this. This week I was astounded and outraged as my heart broke at another expectation that wasn’t met by a promise for something new.
On Wednesday I heard that a new private school finally announced their opening as an alternative for students with specific disabilities. I had heard the rumors and was hopeful because it was a mom who helped start it. Yet, when I visited the new website I felt let down and betrayed. The trend I see in the private school arena in our area is very sad indeed. The schools locally all seem to want the best and brightest kids, the ones who have high IQ’s and no underlying issues with behavior or remedial skills. When I see a school catering to a very narrow band of students with disabilities that probably could make it in the current public system, I have to wonder why they even bother? I ask myself, “Where is the school that will take a student at their level, whatever level that is, and create an individual program that truly meets their needs? Where is the school that isn’t worried about behavior issues because they know how to effectively engage and educate the kids who come to their school?”
Not only that, but the money issue is insane too! 20K, 30K, 40K or more to provide a quality education for these special children? They advertise low staff to student ratios, but then you come to find out that this number doesn’t reflect teachers or paras in the classroom. It includes staff that may be sitting on the other side of the building, behind closed doors, doing the business of the school. It is the numbers game and if you can somehow make your ratio low by manipulating those numbers, then you can justify charging more. Of course private schools don’t have to provide any services or special education. Which honestly doesn’t bother me because, if they are a good school and provide quality for their price, I believe they will thrive as families see the value in what they do. If not, then they will eventually close. What does bother me is if they claim to serve a population, yet when you get down to the nitty gritty they aren’t really serving that population at all.
So when are we going to see a real change? When will our focus shift from private schools for high functioning students to meeting the real needs of all students at a price that doesn’t rival the cost of college? I hope to address those questions in the next few months for families in my local area. It isn’t an easy road I have chosen to take, but my passion and desire to reach all students is important enough that I would gladly go hungry for a day to see just one of them smile as they realize they can succeed in learning.