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Re: middle school instructional time


Date: Sat Mar 22 2003 - 06:40:58 PST

We have double periods once a week in my lower school for grades 3-5. I
LOVE that. One cleanup and one prep per week for each class makes a
huge difference in what we accomplish. The third graders are a little
restless at first, but that only lasts for the first few weeks. We do
big long involved projects anyway, so they don't have time to be bored.
On those days when kids ARE finished early, I have a LOT of centers for
them to work in if I can't get them to work further in the medium we are
using. Sometimes you just can't beat that dead horse, can you???
(Meaning, make them do more of the same) My favorite by far activity is
a huge box of metal scraps from the hardware store, as well as 4 sets of
a scrap metal sculpture set that I dumped in with the hardware store's a magnet sculpture activity...ENDLESS creativity has come
out of that box of junk. It's about 100 bucks worth of metal junk, but
it occupies kids happily for hours, and I like that they aren't always
doing "free draw" for an activity whn they are finished. I always see
about 4 to 6 kids who are DYING to share that box when they finish...not
always the same ones, either. I also keep modeling clay that must be
recycled throughout the year for an activity....what they make can go on
display, but when the clay in the free box diiminishes, the sculptures
that have been on display get recycled. I have architectural stamp sets
from the Metropolitan, Architecture magnetic shapes boards, computer
architectural activities, and lots of other kid sites that they can
venture into...Switch zoo, super goo, animated tesselations, tons of
books with great ideas to use with paper, etc. So, my kids' free time
IS free choice, but there is a lot of meat to the choices. Some choose
to draw, others work 3-D, some are on the computer, I have a courtyard
with flowers and lots of trees right outside my room, so a few kids
might even be in the courtyard with drawing boards. (I can watch them
through the glass). There are lots of other activities in my activity
cabinet I have not mentioned, as well as a LONG list of "what can I do
when I'm finished" posted inside that cabinet on the door. When you
have double periods, it's great for work time, but when they have free
time, you MUST have a lot to offer them, and they MUST be able to find a
variety of things to do, as they might do one activity for half the
double period, and another activity for the other half. I would hate it
if I lost that double love it, too. When kids are absent,
that's a problem, as they miss two classes. Those kids spend some extra
recess time with me, or come one day after school, or sometimes take
work home to finish it and then bring it back. It all works out. Do I
recommend it? YES!