Sunday, March 11, 2012

What should we do on Fridays?

In an earlier blog post, I proposed a nationally standardized academic calendar consisting of six weeks of school followed by a two week break, year-round. I also proposed a four day, "in-person" school week, Monday through Thursday - with Fridays away from the school "building".

That begs the question, "what should we do on Fridays?" Anyone who walks the halls of a school on a Friday would recognize the winding-down feeling that permeates many settings. Movies being shown, games being played, tests being given. But where is the learning? How can we maximize learning for teachers and students on Fridays?

My proposal suggests that we spend time away from our schools on Fridays. Just so there is no confusion, we would be away from the school building on Fridays, but we never lessen our commitment to learning. Fridays would be reserved for family, fitness, connected learning, and skill sharpening. In short, Fridays become a personal growth and learning day!

Many businesses are adopting a four day work week. This leaves Fridays for learning together as families. This could include day trips to museums, concert halls, or art galleries. It could also include a family trip to the library, or to the health club.

It could include some time playing games, or catching up on housework and homework together. The key concept is families spending time together to do something enjoyable, that can also be a learning experience. Just about any activity can become educational when key questions are asked, and time is reserved to reflect upon the benefits of participation. Fuel life-wide learning.

In my world, Fridays would be for paying special attention to personal wellness, physical fitness, and fun. Playing a game outdoors, going for a bike ride, taking a hike, playing a game of catch, etc. It's a day to get everyone's bodies moving for at least forty minutes to an hour, or more. Most health clubs, YMCAs, and park districts offer exercise-related classes. Try something new like a scuba class, kick-boxing, or a dance class.

Fridays are also days for connected learning. Teachers could flip their lessons and assign video-viewing, readings, blog entries, or on-line assessments. This would be a day where students do web-based research, prepare digital presentations, or discuss class content with teachers and classmates via the Internet. Fridays could become days for field work related to a PBL activity.

Finally, Fridays would also be time for teachers to sharpen their saws. Time to reflect on their craft, then update their practices, and to move content and curriculum to "the cloud". And much like the students, faculty and staff would use Fridays to learn, to reinvent themselves, and to make preparations to be effective educators in this age of digital information. Lessons could be re-written to include NETS standards and incorporate 21st Century Skills. Fridays could be a time for professional learning teams to meet via video chat, to share documents and data, and also discuss best practices. Fridays would also be a time for teachers to learn with their own families.

To summarize, Fridays are for learning for everyone - just not in the format or setting that most people have grown accustomed to.  Of course, the follow up to this proposal is to create some system of accountability. But I will leave that conversation to the experts out there.

How should we hold teachers, students, and parents accountable for making sure that Friday is an important day of learning in an alternate setting?  

I encourage you to share your comments or suggestions.  (RTS)

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