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Rethinking Time for Learning

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  • Rethinking Time for Learning

    By using time flexibly, we can increase student learning and create real opportunities to achieve true mastery.

    One hundred eighty days, 6.5 hours a day, 50-minute classes, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. This schedule has been the norm for high schools for nearly 100 years. But true mastery of 21st-century skills requires a more flexible conception of time.

    Some innovative schools harness time during the school day, week, or year, or use the afterschool and weekend hours creatively, to provide more learning time for students who need it or to enable students to move more quickly and accomplish highly complex projects. At Summit Shasta in Daly City, California, for example, all students enroll in “expeditions,” or immersive two-week elective courses taught four times each school year.

    At Crosstown High in Memphis, Tennessee, the day is organized into longer blocks of time to allow for interdisciplinary courses such as humanities/human geography or biology/geometry. Crosstown students also select “flex classes” that give them time to explore or cultivate interests such as filmmaking or podcasting.

    Schools need flexibility to adjust and vary their schedules to allow for deeper, more sustained learning experiences. Freed from the bounds of a schedule-segmented day, students can immerse themselves more in discussion, engage in individual and group learning, work on interdisciplinary projects, and get field experience applying their skills in the community.




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If you could reorganize the school schedule, what would you change?

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