Monday, September 24, 2012

Week 5 -- The Time/Place Edge

How have you extended your classroom outside of the school day? Have you seen changes in student performance or success? Has your school or district made any changes to the length of the school day or year? What are your thoughts on the time and place edge? If you are interested, you can find many of the videos referred to in this chapter here.


  1. This was such an interesting chapter. Thinking outside the box, doing what we need to do for each student, not letting time constrain us... these things are all important in helping kids be all they can be!

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  3. I teach in a district with the "balanced" calendar. One of the pillars of the plan was that during our two-week breaks, the first week would be for remediation, rather than having students wait until summer school(which is rarely held, anyway). One roadblock, however, is that many of the students who need remediation do not participate. There have not been significant changes in test scores or attendance overall; some schools have gone up, some have gone down. Last year, our district participated in Summer Advantage USA. It's always bothered me that people will trumpet special programs (often involving science) that go on during the summer, and I wonder , "Well, why aren't they doing that during the regular school year?"

    Personally, I have extended my own day way beyond the school day. I spend hours on the computer at night, mainly on educational pursuits. At first I thought this chapter was going to be about the many opportunities for students to learn outside the school day via technology. In fact, with the structure of the school day and district policies, many have to wait until after school to collaborate, and, in some cases, access websites that will be useful to them. I thought maybe it would feature more learning going on at home through tech.

    I have heard that Marco Torres is a fabulous speaker, and loved the story of students outside his house using his wireless (I myself have been on a bench outside Panera after closing time for the same thing)

    Many aspects of this chapter reminded me of the APEX program at Decatur Township Middle School in Indianapolis, with more flexible class time, PBL, and real-world challenges. They also involve service learning and have received numerous grants from generationOn

    I was surprised I had not heard of more of the programs featured that were place-based. There are several schools in the city of Indianapolis with gardens, and a few with chicken coops. One of the schools in my district used to have an extensive garden, but, ironically enough, it was cut out when the focus became more on testing. I also find it ironic that many field trips have been cut for reasons beyond economics, with claims such as, "It doesn't fit with the standards." To me, an accomplished teacher can make meaningful connections to field trips and other such programs. I really liked the metaphor comparing a developing child with the growth of a garden. I have been to the Henry Ford Museum and the accompanying high school, several years ago during a visit to Detroit, and have also been to the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, which works closely with the nearby Franklin Science Institute. I would have loved to have been a student in either of those schools!

    Once again, I also was pleased that Chen threw in some moderation, calling for students to have less screen time, balancing that with being with people and in nature, and participating in exercise.

    The call for class space that is more flexible, comfortable and with natural lighting hit a note for me, too. I've been in too many modern schools that spent way too much on extravagant entrances, public areas, and athletic facilities, only to have crackerbox classrooms, the place where students spend the majority of their time.

    I agree with Chen that this edge might be perhaps the most overlooked.
    Susie Highley

  4. The time/place edge readings gave me some great ideas. The idea of wi-fi busses for our traveling students was a real ah-ha moment. I will be mentioning this at our technology meeting next week.

    I agree with Chen that most schools are held hostage by the contracted day/year. We must find ways to extend our student's day. While some schools have added zero periods and offer after school and/or summer sessions, our school hasn't explored this venue. (Of course, funding limits these types of programs.)

    A few of our teachers have taken it upon themselves make changes that allows their students more learning time. One teacher uses Wikispaces. She posts all of her daily activities so that students always know what is being done on a particlular day. This allows students who are absent to know what they missed (and I remember the winter when snow closed our school for a couple weeks, these students came back complaining that they had to work everyday, because the activies were posted on Wikispaces.)

    Another teacher has "flipped" her AP Calculus class this year. Her students watch the lessons and take notes at home and then the class time is used in discussions, problem solvings and individual help sessions. (She had to figure our how to address students without internet access at home, but early indications is that this is working. She told me that she wants to flip her Algebra 1 classes next year).

    These examples are just individual teachers. In order to make a greater impact, there needs to be a complete school shift. I think the time will come when we go back to valueing field trips and hands-on experiences. But for now, we are caught in a loop of high stakes testing and ever increasing standards that do not allow for as many "fun" activities. I look forward to next shift in educational innovations that will allow for a change in the time/place edge of education.

  5. I think this is one area where the "digital divide" plays a role for the students I teach. I take a survey at the beginning of each school year to gauge how connected our families are. The results the past two years have been similar. 55 and 58% respectively of our families do not have access to the internet at their home. This is a need that an urban school should be attempting to fill. We should play a role in getting low cost or free internet access for our families. In my opinion, access to the internet has almost become a necessity. Internet access allows teachers to extend the school day and gives families needed information to help with homework, grades and teacher lesson plans.