Friday, February 22, 2008

More Instructional Time Needed
Advice from
Two Million Minutes

After looking at "Two Million Minutes" it is very obvious that more instructional time is needed K-12. While clearly there are many other changes that need to be met, the time issue must be addressed.

I am putting forth a proposal which you can feel free to comment on or voice your own ideas about this situation.

I am going to look at increasing the amount of instructional time at the high school level.

While the term instructional time is used it refers to the time a student spends in a classroom, hopefully learning.

I will for comparison sake compare with a 6 period day with 55 minute classes = 330 minutes per day --> 90 day semester = 59,400 min/ year = 237,600 per 4 year

or 4 periods at 85 minutes = 340 per day = 244,800 / 4 years
or 4 periods at 90 minutes = 360 per day = 259,200 / 4 years

My proposal is for a 70 minute classes taught on 60 day trimesters
at 5 classes per day this produces = 252,000 / 4 years

All of the above assume a 180 day school year and a fairly short school day with the large variations coming in teacher planning time 55 min/day or 70 min/day or 85 min/day or 90 min/ day. Another large variation is in the number of students seen by the teacher at 30 per class this will vary from 90 up to 150 students seen per day.

Since these schedules are all inadequate, why argue over your favorite and expect it to improve overall results?

We can definitely see differences in instructional time in an individual class like Algebra I if it is taught as:
1 semester at 85 minutes/ day = 7650 min (becoming very uncommon)
2 semesters at 55 min / day = 9900 min (very common)
3 trimesters at 70 min/day = 12600 min (Vashon Island High)
2 semesters at 90 min / day = 16200 min (Fife High School 2005-2006)

My proposal would be to lengthen the school year by using either 65 or 68 day trimesters and lengthening the school day to six 70 minute periods.
Teachers would teach 4 of the 70 minute periods each day.

At 6 periods at 180 days = 75600 min / year and 302,400 per 4 years

At 6 periods at 195 days = 81900 min / year and 327,600 per 4 years

At 6 periods at 204 days = 85680 min / year and 342,720 per 4 years

In comparison with the standard six-period 180 day year 237,600 per 4 year I find the following increases in instructional time by percent:

At 6 (70 min) periods at 180 days +27%
At 6 (70 min) periods at 195 days +38%
At 6 (70 min) periods at 204 days +44%
Notice that with a 44% increase in instruction time gets close to adding an addition two years of instructional time using our current time of 59,400 min/year for standard 6 period day at 55 min classes. The 44% increase adds 105,120 during years in high school as 237,600 + 105,120 = 342,720 minutes

To those that would argue that Washington State cannot afford to do this, I say "Two Million Minutes" shows why we cannot afford not to. It is definitely a case of pay me now or pay me later.

At trimesters of length 65 or even 68 days a high school schedule can be put in sync with community college schedules for running start compatibility.

Below are some thoughts from Vashon Island High School --
Home of the 5 period 70 minute day at 60 days per trimester.

I am really a fan of 5 period day on Trimesters (70 minute periods) of 60 days.

...............4200 min per trimester
-- 2 tri = 8,400 minutes
-- 3 tri = 12,600 minutes

180 days at 50 = 9000 min/year
180 days at 55 = 9900 min/year

Algebra I ( 3 trimesters)
Geometry ( 2 trimesters)
Adv. Algebra ( 3 trimesters)
Pre Calc ( 2 trimesters)
Calculus ( 3 trimesters)

continuously enrolled in math for four years:

........50 min ......... 55 min ......... 70 min

yr 1... 9000......... 9900 ........ 12,600

yr 2... 18,000...... 19,800...... 25,200

yr 3... 27,000..... 29,700...... 37,800

yr 4... 36,000..... 39,600...... 50,400

Watch the Video "Two Million Minutes"

What we need is a six period trimester schedule at 70 minutes where teachers teach 4 of the six periods.

USA is inadequate because of :
1.. Short school day
2.. Short School year
3.. Inadequate teacher planning time.
4.. Family collapse
5.. Inadequate motivation for many from anything other than selfish narcissism.

Vashon Island High School in Puget Sound just off West Seattle has been running a 5 period day on trimesters as shown above.
They've used a traditional math text series and cover every page of each book in Algebra, Geom, Adv. Algebra. Pre Calc.
They use a pacing guide.

course descriptions:

bell schedule:

Another way to look at the 5 period day with teachers teaching 4 classes at 70 minutes is:
teacher is teaching for 280 minutes per day

where 5 x 55 = 275

We desperately need a trimester schedule with 70 minute periods and periods per day

and at least 65 days per trimester - which lengthens the school year by 15 days to 195.

Teachers will gain a bit more (effective) planning time in this schedule because
they only teach 4 classes instead of the usual 5.

They also get 70 min plan per day vs 55 min.

Your thoughts are welcome.

Remember that students from India and China and Singapore are entering high school with a lot learning from more time in classes k-8 and with better skills than most of our very best students {not to mention - the many socially promoted in Seattle, where the public schools do not even define necessary skills needed in math k-8}
How can students effectively learn what the SPS fails to identify as important.
We not only need more time but better leadership. Clearly there are many other changes that need to me made.

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