Does a longer day mean students will learn more?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Tyler B., Aug 13, 2013.

  1. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Aug 13, 2013

    What happens when a bunch of academics comb through the available research on more-time-in-school?

    This report:
    http://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Child_Trends-2012_08_16_RB_TimeForLearning.pdf

    If you don't want to read the whole thing, just check out the conclusions on page 64. It seems to say that it's unclear if more time really helps. There is evidence to suggest that low income/low performing kids benefit from after school tutoring.

    At our school we have a "homework club" where staff and volunteers help latchkey students with a snack and one-on-one homework or free reading help. A late bus takes the kids home.

    The results seem miraculous to us teachers.
     
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  3. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Aug 13, 2013

    I'm trying to tell I detect a hint of sarcasm there towards the end. Hehe.

    All I can say is that from personal experience, the more time I try to dedicate to a task after an intial burst of productivity, the less productive I get as I become tired. But I do think tutoring and homework club is definitely helpful. (At least it provides a quiet space for kids to do homework if they come from a home where that is not readily available.)
     
  4. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    I have never taught in an extended school day environment, but I doubt it would help. Most of our kids seem to "lose it" around 1:30 or 2 pm (in an 8-3 school day).

    I have found that during the last two periods of the day, the kids are extra lethargic/sleepy/lazy or, even worse, they have decided that they are "done for the day" and are just wild and hard to control.

    I do believe after school tutoring programs can be very helpful if the student is invested.
     
  5. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I am so torn about this. I know that if I have more time with my students that they will do better because I'll be able to teach topics in depth to get better understanding and do more challenging problems. But I don't think a longer school day is the solution because it's way too much for the students. High school students need to wake up much too early anyways, and are usually exhausted by 2:30. Also, a longer school day wouldn't allow students to participate in activities where many students have the opportunity to gain skills that they can't gain in class.

    I do think after-school tutoring is very beneficial though...but I also don't think teachers should be required to provide it. I know of a high school that has teachers run an extra help period. One teacher from each department has an extra help period for every single period of the day. So for every single period of the day, there's always someone to go to for every subject (Math, Science, English, History, etc.) Students can see teachers for extra help during their free period, lunch period, or study hall period. I love this system! I know it might not work well for foreign languages and science because these teachers have expertise in different subjects--so if a French teacher is running the foreign language period, they may not be able to help with an Arabic class but I think it's a good start.
     
  6. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I think it's probably best to think about how the day is used. Instead of just splitting everything up into different subjects throughout the day, there are studies that show that students learn best in the earlier hours of the morning. Keep all direct instruction and learning to those hours, and use the rest of the hours in the school day to have students work on projects and independent work. How they use those hours can be up to them or it can be structured (I favor the former). That way they're using their time wisely while being able to relax a bit and work with their group members without having to hold steady attention to a lecture for 7 hours each day.
     
  7. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I think a lot of students would struggle with having 5 classes in a row.

    And to edit, I definitely could be wrong but I don't usually notice a huge grade difference between my morning and afternoon classes.
     
  8. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    This is a subject that really "hits home" with me - I teach in an inner city, low-income school. Many of my new 3rd graders are extremely low. Today, for instance, in math, some were having problems writing numbers increasing by 1 (we were making a Table of Contents for an interactive notebook). I also gave the students a "color by addition/subtraction" page (within 10), and some students were having problems with 9-7! We are doing our Fall DIBELS benchmark assessment on August 29 (the only form of reading assessment we are allowed to do), and I am terrified of the results. Until then, I am working with them on high frequency words and writing complete sentences. In math, we are going to do extensive numeracy, place value, and addition/subtraction work. The district is in the midst of deciding which Math assessment we will use (no longer Aimsweb). In the meantime, the mandated district pacing guide states that my kids are supposed to be fluently multiplying and dividing within 100 for the next 5 weeks!

    Anyway, back to the subject at hand ('scuse the rant). My kids are so low, and they have to go so far, that there are not enough hours in the day. Because of the specific circumstances this year, I agreed to work for our school's after-school tutoring program this year (which hasn't started yet). It runs from 3:15-5:30. I'm splitting the job with the other 3rd grade teacher (alternating weeks), so WE don't burn out, but I'm worried about the students burning out. Ugh. I just pray that we will be able to raise them up without making them hate school.
     
  9. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Aug 13, 2013

    pwhatley, I think your experiences as a 1st grade teacher will come in handy here! :whistle:
     
  10. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I've taught in our afterschool program for the past 2 years. It's 2 days a week from 3:30-5. It's definitely a long day, but it comes routine for me (and the kids) and you get used to it. (For me, the pay is great, for the kids' parents, its great to have them in school a little longer.) When I taught 4th grade most of my students had been in the program before so they were fine. It took my 3rd graders a little longer to adjust to the longer day, but they weren't unproductive in the afternoon. We start with a 15 minute snack break so that helps.

    I think as far as results, it varies from kid to kid. Some of the kids in the program are SO far behind that keeping them in school until 8pm 2 days a week still wouldn't make a difference. Other kids that are on the border line I've seen it make the difference between passing and failing on the state tests or being on grade level and being below grade level.

    It's definitely not something I (or the kids) could do every day. It used to be 3 days a week before I started working there and I don't think I would've even been able to do a 3rd day of it. But I think it's a useful program and hope my school continues it this year.
     
  11. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I think it is fair to say that it is more difficult to teach students near the end of a day. Extending a day can have benefits, but it is difficult. I find that you have to have teachers who are also not tired, and can really be able to hook students who are getting a bit tired.

    If that extended time looks different with an art project, band, science, or something that energizes the students then yes it can help. If it test prep or something dull...forget about it. You might as well bring pillows for the students.
     
  12. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Aug 13, 2013

    I don't think a longer school day would be beneficial, like others said, there is only so much a person's brain can take.
    After school tutoring whoever would be beneficial; it's not for everyone, it's for those who need it, and of course there should be a little break between school and tutoring (maybe 30 minutes).
    Homework club is probably the most beneficial, because home work is really there to reinforce what students learned, and this way they get some help with understanding it.

    BTW in my country we had 7-8 periods, but each class was only 45 minutes with 15 minutes of recess between EACH class! We were made to go outside, got some fresh air, ran around, used restroom, etc. In return we weren't disruptive, didn't need to use the restroom and got our energy out during recess. The 45 minutes were spent 100 % on instruction.

    In high school we started having 5-10 and 15 minutes recesses / break, still only with 45 minute classes. I think they were better.
     
  13. bison

    bison Habitué

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    I think money and time would be better spent on providing homework help, a safe place to hang out, and health care to low income/at risk kiddos. Not really the same thing as school, but more time where they can be supervised and receiving care they might not have access to otherwise.
     
  14. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I agree. I would add in some family support (parenting classes, even "fun" stuff like family movie nights).

    I also think that an extended school year might be much more worthwhile than an extended school day. Not that I'd want to teach all year, mind you, but I still think this is true.
     
  15. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    In my first school we extended student hours from 7 hours of school to 7 hours and 40 minutes. The younger kids especially had a really hard time adjusting. A lot of instructional time was wasted with tantrums and kids just shutting down, and this wasn't a school with a lot of behavior problems in general. After they got over that stage, they tended to just be too tired to really focus by the end of the day- all from an extra 40 minutes! Even I found that year so much harder than the previous year. I had planning first thing and lunch at 11 and school didn't end until 4...those afternoons just dragged on.
     
  16. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    I really agree with this. I would add that clubs and enrichment type activities are really useful. I worked in after school programs for 4 years, and I believe that when done right, they can be extremely beneficial.

    Last year, my school had a 7.5 hour long school day. It was really rough. My first graders had a hard time with that long of a day, especially since we got back from lunch 3.5 hours before the end of the day! I don't really think it was worth it. It was hard to accomplish anything because they were so tired and DONE - they were checking out, I was getting frustrated...ugh. There were some unpleasant afternoons. I didn't feel it was developmentally appropriate at all for my six year olds. Next year, we will have more school days total, but a shorter 6 hour and 20 minute day. I am REALLY excited about it. I actually think our time will be a lot more productive.
     
  17. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Our after school homework club works great. Kids get recess, snack and caring adults helping them with their homework or reading.
     
  18. Miss84

    Miss84 Comrade

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    NO! This is coming from a teacher who had to teach for 9-yes NINE hours! It was horrible, after lunch, the majority of your teaching is over. My kids and I were just as tired at the end of the school day.
     
  19. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Our after school tutoring program has the following:
    (1) snack (immediately after the regular school day)
    (2) homework/skill help
    (3) tennis lessons
    (4) art activities
    (5) robotics club for older students

    That's what I know about now (it hasn't begun this year, and it will be my 1st year working with it). I have seen them have their own Mardi Gras parade, complete with kid-made floats as well. I know that it is not just kids sitting in class.

    I think, in addition to the academic benefits, our program offers a safe place for kids to be 3 afternoons a week for parents who cannot afford daycare.

    Oh, and our school has dentists who come in (during regular class time) free of charge.
     
  20. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Has less to do with more hours and more to do with student engagement.

    If students are fully engaged in a longer school day...then yes, they will learn more.
     
  21. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    When school reform and standardized testing hit, many schools lengthened their language arts and math blocks at the expense of science, art, music, PE and social studies. If the purpose of the longer day were to either restore these subjects that would be fine. If the purpose is to make teachers teach longer blocks of reading and math, then no.
     
  22. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I agree with this. Of course, I'd add foreign language to the mix as well. :)
     
  23. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I fear for the introverts among the kids and for those who periodically need down time/away time. Do extended day programs make any provision for that?
     
  24. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    So are you suggesting that we cause our students tremendous amounts of stress, similar to what Korean students are apparently facing, and keep them in school until 11 PM, away from their families, so that they stop being fat, lazy, and stupid?

    I might argue that I'd rather have a fat kid who gets to enjoy his childhood and spend time with his family than a skinny, anxiety-ridden kid who probably couldn't even recognize his own mother because he never sees her.

    I would also argue that many of those schools that are "creaming" us internationally probably do not bother accepting or teaching students with special needs, which obviously brings in a range of challenges here since we do.
     
  25. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I would suggest comparing the number of Nobel laureates from those countries you name to those of the U.S.
     
  26. bison

    bison Habitué

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    Suicide is also the biggest cause of death for young people in South Korea. Of course there are a myriad of reasons, but the stress levels and pressure that come with that kind of education are unbelievable. What's the point of living if you have no time to enjoy it whatsoever? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-15331921
     
  27. TeachTN

    TeachTN Comrade

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    BINGO! This is exactly what I bring up when someone tries to tell me that we (as in U.S.) are low ranking in education.
     

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