Our county has this time in school in many of our elementary schools called Mastery Extension time or Extended Learning Time–a 30-45 minute time period in EVERY class where Title 1 pullout may happen, sometimes gifted pullout happens, remedial pullout happens and the idea is for kids to get extra time on something they either have not mastered yet, OR extend something they have. Honestly, some teachers use it well and others flounder, so it can either be a great thing or a waste of time.
We have a new principal coming into my school, so nothing is settled, but our retiring principal suggested an idea she’d seen in another VA school. This idea involves us ALL doing Mastery Extension at the same time–and we have a draft schedule with it happening the first 40 minutes or so of the school day. EVERY adult in the building would support this time–so we get all the specialists working with kids during this time, all the classified folks (perhaps even cafeteria, custodians and office), and even parent volunteers. By happening first thing, some parents may be able to help daily, if they don’t have to be at work until 9:00. Community members could come in, we could involve our central office folks some–heck, even our MS and HS teachers (and students) might even be able to give us some time, since their schools begin later than our elementary ones.
I see the potential as ENORMOUS. First off, it’s a great time to set up clubs. We could have 6 week rotations of things like Robotics (our FIRST league), Challenge 24, Destination Imagination, Running Club, Volleyball, Boomwhackers, Recorder Club, Art Club, Philosophy Club, Science Club, STEM clubs, Chess Club, Scratch Club, Chorus, etc. so that MANY more kids could be exposed to all of these. Currently we run these after school and they are often limited to 6-8 weeks ALL YEAR.
Secondly, if parents came in, they could offer to share THEIR passions. . . and we could have daily/weekly times to line up scientists, journalists, artists, musicians, doctors, engineers, lawyers, university specialists, technologists, bookkeepers, accountants, etc. and our kids could be exposed to LOTS of different avenues to explore new interests. Talk about setting up mentorships. . .
Tutoring sessions could be ongoing–either for remediation or extension.
The schedule could be humane, in that kids who need remediation could have a couple of days remediation and a couple of days extension in other areas, so that kids wouldn’t be spending all their time in their academic weaknesses. We could do the same with teachers–if we pair teachers carefully, teachers who are less comfortable with technology (or reading instruction or math skill work or problem solving) could be paired with others who are skilled in those areas to increase adult skill as well.
The multiage opportunities are fantastic–think how this could increase the community feeling of our school and build a sense of competence among our more experienced students–and build skills in those less experienced. Imagine the opportunities for those kids who need experiences beyond their grade level, or in an area of extreme skill.
After the state tests each year, the teachers always pull out their “fun” units. This morning time is an opportunity for them to do “fun” stuff and project work all year with kids. The opportunity for kids to suggest their own projects and work on them over time is rich.
I see this as an opportunity for us to begin the task of re-envisioning what the rest of the day could look like as well and I think we’ll discover all KINDS of student expertise we never knew existed.
What do you think? What are your ideas?