Conversations Episode 81 – What could a year round school really look like?

This week, Ginger Lewman gave us our topic by questioning in Plurk what year round school could really look like if we could make sure it wasn’t “same old, same old.”  We also discussed the
Slate challenge
to create your own classroom. 


11:28:21sheila: Welcome to Conversations!

11:28:49GingerTPLC: Good morning everyone!

11:29:08PeggyG: It’s been a fabulous week of PD with K12 Online

11:29:34PeggyG: Hi Ginger. Can’t wait to hear you and Colby on the
K12 Online Fireside Chat later today!

11:29:48Lisa Parisi: Audio is on ustream today.

11:30:00connect2jamie: K12 Online is great! I haven’t gotten to
see all of this week’s yet. Looking forward to it

11:30:12PeggyG: audio is great for me πŸ™‚

11:30:21GingerTPLC: Thank you! Today is a special treat for me.
Getting to talk Education with all sorts of folks all day long!

11:30:37PeggyG: yes Ginger! you’re a real celebrity today!!

11:30:58GingerTPLC: lol

11:30:59connect2jamie: Ustream isn’t up yet, is it?

11:31:13connect2jamie: ahh! There it is!

11:31:13PeggyG: yes ustream is up. may need to refresh it

11:31:17sheila: Thanks PeggyG!

11:31:27GingerTPLC: I’m so excited about this topic today!

11:31:58PeggyG: year-round school comes in so many variations so
this will be a great conversation

11:32:09PeggyG: Sheila’s voice is a bit soft

11:32:23GingerTPLC: Space learning?

11:32:30PeggyG: that is so exciting Sheila! getting to watch the
space shuttle launch!!

11:32:48PeggyG: congratulations on your walk Sheila!

11:33:07PeggyG: wow! 90,000 dollars raised! fantastic!


11:35:19sheila: I will be tweeting for students (and others) via
@7thscience from KSC.

11:36:02PeggyG: Colby did a fantastic job on his keynote!! What an
incredible ambassador for TPLC!

11:36:04sheila: I will also be streaming on on the 31st and Nov 1st.

11:36:20PeggyG: so excited that you will be streaming that Sheila!

11:36:23Lisa Parisi: Hi Maria

11:36:36MariaK: Just listening for now…

11:36:38PeggyG: he doesn’t need to be nervous. We’re all friends!

11:36:47PeggyG: Hi Maria πŸ™‚

11:37:00sheila: Got permission from NASA but not sure about
bandwidth. . . .

11:37:08PeggyG: He’ll do great!

11:37:28GingerTPLC: Thanks, Peggy!

11:37:36PeggyG: will you be streaming from your laptop Sheila?

11:37:42sheila: yes.

11:38:15sheila: Welcome to Conversations chat room.

11:39:02PeggyG: what a great idea Lisa! How neat for them to see
all of the wonderful tools they are learning.

11:40:05MariaK: that’s way too much –

11:40:25MariaK: AP classe do have diffferent expectations

11:41:07PeggyG: but it’s sad that “higher expectations”
often translate into more busy work–not necessarily more learning

11:41:33Cathy E: Sounds just like college

11:41:40PeggyG: πŸ™‚

11:41:51MariaK: But AP classes are also meant to get kids ready to
pass the AP tests that if they pass replace a college class – I think AP
classes are classes for test prep.

11:41:53connect2jamie: Did you see Scott McLeod’s post this wk
about student videos: I hate high school!

11:41:56PeggyG: and often what teachers do with gifted students

11:42:12Maureen: Why do “we” prepare kids for the next
year rather than really teaching the kids who are in the class now?

11:42:20sheila: Welcome Nedra!

11:42:40PeggyG: thanks for that link connect2jamie! Scott has been
writing some really thought-provoking things recently in his blog!

11:42:49MariaK: No it doesn’t ginger but the intention is to have
kids pass the AP test

11:43:12Maureen: Our kids have 2-3 hours/night for all subjects.
They have a homework schedule so that don’t get overloaded on one night.

11:43:13connect2jamie: As a parent of a college student, we did
not have a great experience w/ AP in HS either. Only 3 of her 5 AP classes
really ended up counting in college. The other 2 turned out to be electives.

11:43:20Cathy E: Yes, but 2 hours of AP homework is average.  I have lived it.

11:43:42connect2jamie: Scott is great for getting your brain

11:43:47PeggyG: not 2 hours total–per class

11:43:50MariaK: yes – my husband teaches AP envir. science

11:43:58MariaK: Kids can’t do everything Lisa

11:44:37McTeach (Karen): Oh geez…sorry I’m late!

11:44:39Maureen: Hi Karen- just finished reading the Book
Whisperer- from your recommendation- thanks

11:44:44Lisa Parisi: Welcome Karen

11:44:45PeggyG: Hi McTeach!

11:44:58McTeach (Karen): Hi Maureen! Wasn’t it great!!

11:45:02connect2jamie: Our experience: my daughter took both AP
and dual credit classes. The dual credit worked better for her.

11:45:09GingerTPLC: Hey, McTeach! We were wondering about pocket
frogs. πŸ™‚

11:45:11McTeach (Karen): Good morning, Peggy and Lisa!

11:45:16Maureen: My son took all AP courses, but now looks back
and says that most of it was not worth it

11:45:23Maureen: It

11:45:24McTeach (Karen): Ginger…you were?

11:45:32Maureen: It’s for their resume

11:45:55McTeach (Karen): It’s a game on the iPhone or iPodTouch

11:46:46Lisa Parisi: What’s the point, Karen?

11:46:48Nedra: We hadn’t heard good things about the AP classes at
my kid’s HS. So, last year my daugther took all of her classes except dual
credit French at the local Jr. college and all her classes transfered to her
college this fall.

11:46:56Maureen: I opted out of taking AP american history test
when I was in HS… a million years ago. I knew that I couldn’t pass it. It was
the year my SS teacher had an affair with the art teacher- his mind was not on
his work.

11:46:58GingerTPLC: That’s what we figured out. We weren’t sure
what it was about. Just a time user?

11:46:59Cathy E: On the other side – when they do go into college
with sever AP classes under their belt – it gives them a head start.  But I agree wtih Maria, she has to decied

11:47:02McTeach (Karen): Lisa…doesn’t seem to be one.

11:47:18McTeach (Karen): Ginger…that’s about it.

11:47:45PeggyG: that’s a really interesting comment Maria and I
agree! Kdg is now advanced placement for first grade! How sad!

11:48:18MariaK: @peggyG I guess I said that a little too loud!

11:48:45connect2jamie: My daughter went to college with 15 hours,
but it worked against her. She didn’t know what she wanted to major in, and she
would have been better off just taking the classes regularly, for the most
part. In TX, if you go past 30 hours over your degree plan in college, you have
to pay out of state tuition.

11:49:01McTeach (Karen): It depends on the teacher, doesn’t it?

11:49:03PeggyG: πŸ™‚ but it’s a great sequeway (sp) into talking
about year-round school. πŸ™‚ Do we want/need more of this same kind of school
for a few more months?

11:49:03Maureen: I know that AP bio is a haul- they have so much
to cover… to pass the test

11:49:06connect2jamie: So when some of her classes turned out to
count as electives that she didn’t need, it wasn’t good

11:50:00PeggyG: talk about what you think year-round school
means–would look like…

11:50:01Maureen: I wouldn’t get to have the down time that I need-
or are we talking about what the kids need- lose too much ground over the summer?

11:50:05connect2jamie: You’re right. Labs wouldn’t be what would
get done.

11:51:01connect2jamie: I fear that we would do more test prep,
worksheets, testing. Not more indepth learning. It’s not about deep learning.
It’s about test prep

11:51:05connect2jamie: Very sad.

11:51:27PeggyG: to me it seems like year-round really means
re-distributed weeks/days/hours and not really additional days

11:51:35Maureen: We keep on cramming stuff into our schedule. The
kids now have “clubs” time, but most will not choose anything of
substance- they don’t want another class. Most try to be on the recycling club-
and go around and collect the recycling bins

11:51:51Lisa Parisi: But Peggy, I think that the time is coming
when kids will be in school all the time.

11:51:57Lisa Parisi: We need babysitters

11:52:06PeggyG: @Maureen-I think there is a lot of value in the

11:52:28McTeach (Karen): LOL!!!

11:52:37McTeach (Karen): Yes, I want to move to Kansas!!!

11:52:52Maureen: @peggy There could be, but our kids are too overloaded
to enjoy the opportunity to learn and interact- they want a break!

11:53:37sheila: We have some staff who want to build a dory, start
a farm, work with the donated greenhouse (we just got) and extend lunch to 20
minutes for the students. We are 6-8.

11:53:56Maureen: I had a 6th graders apologize for not getting his
work in to me- he was up at 1 am.. I told him to never stay up so late to do
work for me.

11:54:45sheila: Our parents don’t want to extend the day. Not sure

11:54:52connect2jamie: @maureen–yes. Exactly! Thank you for
caring for your individual students!

11:54:53McTeach (Karen): Maureen…I tell my students the same

11:55:51Cathy E: We have that problem here, cause we are a tourist
area, most all of our families are busy making money in the summer – so they
want to take a vacation in the winter.

11:56:06GingerTPLC: We also take an hour lunch break at school.

11:56:09Maureen: How about the kids who need to earn $? My kids
had to work every summer to afford to go to college.

11:56:27GingerTPLC: It’s about practicing life in all the aspects
of education. Schooling as Life Practice

11:56:53Maureen: Yup, the kids could miss all the sunshine and
never get to run around in the woods

11:57:18GingerTPLC: Maureen, not at all. I don’t think anyone is
advocating not playing during big breaks.

11:57:29GingerTPLC: But I think that should be part of the
educaitonal experience too.

11:57:52Maureen: Sheila- my son went to Proctor- they had great
boat building projects.

11:58:00GingerTPLC: More often breaks. Why not play in the snow.
Or during the spring time? Or play in the falling leaves in October?

11:58:01PeggyG: it seems to me that what you want to
accomplish/learn/explore needs to be the driving force that determines whether
you need more time or alternative scheduling and shouldn’t start with moving to
year-round or extended day/year.

11:59:03sheila: @Maureen – We did it one year. Small dory. Nice
experience but kids forgot you have to take it out through the doors! It worked
out though.

11:59:13PeggyG: in his presentation Colby talked a lot about how
important it was for him to be able to make choices about his learning

11:59:37Lisa Parisi:

12:00:36Maureen: @Sheila- my son’s senior project was to
completely rebuild a Toyota MR2 (sports car). 
So glad I no longer have 3 different parts cars in my field- still have
parts in my cellar tho

12:00:56connect2jamie: @Maureen LOL πŸ™‚

12:01:31GingerTPLC: Yes Peggy. It’s about choices and about the
balance of responsibilty and freedom.

12:02:16PeggyG: those choices and self-directed learning are
really important and most schools don’t offer much of this opportunity

12:02:42Maureen: Shows how much younger you are than me… we had
shop for boys and home ec for girls.

12:02:53GingerTPLC: Bookshelf is one of my favorite spots
to dream about creating learning, inspiring spaces.

12:02:58PeggyG: me too Maureen πŸ™‚

12:03:03GingerTPLC: OH!

12:03:09GingerTPLC: Sorry. πŸ™

12:03:22PeggyG: that’s too funny Ginger! this chat log may be

12:03:59Maureen: When I taught K I hated the mess clay made on the
floor, the tables, etc.. DIdn’t mean I didn’t use it- but messy!

12:04:49GingerTPLC: PBL/Art/Education– “if ya ain’t got it
*on* ya, then ya ain’t got it *in* ya”

12:05:01PeggyG: our special guest on Classroom 2.0 LIVE next
Saturday is Barbara Bray and her topic is exactly what you are talking about
Lisa–Joy in Learning and ways to do more with project based learning and other
things (like you’re fondly remembering) πŸ™‚ Come and join the conversation.
Noon EDT.

12:05:02Maureen: Our kids in PreK have a loft that the parents
built. We had to get rid of couches, etc.. because of lice.

12:05:03Cathy E: Ha HA – Maureen – me too.  And my Mother made me take Latin instead of
Home ec.  Needless to say I can’t sew a
stitch. And I don’t remember any Latin.

12:05:34connect2jamie: We can’t have anything w/i 30″ of the
ceiling b/c of fire laws. Good grief.

12:06:13Maureen: @Cathy I took it, and I staple, glue or use that
fabric strips… I needed to learn the shop stuff, that’s what I use on a day
to day basis.

12:06:22McTeach (Karen): I wish I had more space in my classroom
for the kids to find comfy places to read. There’s a prayer garden behind
middle school, and we’ve gone in there to read, but we can’t do that every day.
Especially now that it’s started raining.

12:06:52GingerTPLC: I LOVE the idea of a loft. We do have high-ish

12:07:20PeggyG: there are so many “laws” and regulations
that interfere with some of these very creative ideas. Fire code for our school
required us to removed our reading lofts and definitely nothing hanging from
the ceiling. πŸ™

12:07:26Maureen: @Karen My son is working in Washington state at
the moment. He called and talked for a couple of hours yesterday- first day off
in 20 days- cuz it was raining.

12:07:58Cathy E: We have a new outdoor classroom – it is

12:08:11connect2jamie: @Peggy no hanging things from ceiling here
either. How spontaneously combustible ARE elem kids, anyway? πŸ˜‰

12:08:14PeggyG: that’s a great site! can’t wait to explore it

12:08:44McTeach (Karen): Maureen…we leave tomorrow morning for
camp (my 7th graders and I). It’s gonna be muddy up there!

12:09:17PeggyG: What fun Karen! I always loved the camping trips
with students! πŸ™‚

12:09:51Maureen: @Karen- but it’ll be fun anyway. Our kids got
lucky- went the week on 11th- they had beuatiful weather til the last day.
Sometimes it snows on them

12:10:54PeggyG: it was great hearing Colby share about how
students got to help design the learning spaces in their school! That’s how it
should be! πŸ™‚

12:11:20McTeach (Karen): Actually, the kids will be happy with the
mud. The gaga ball pit will be filled with mud…makes it much more fun. For

12:11:30yoshirarb: hy!

12:11:32connect2jamie: As a librarian, I HATE how AR is used and
abused in classrooms. It’s awful

12:11:40Lisa Parisi: I agree Jamie.

12:11:46GingerTPLC: Yep, that’s how it went. Only we had to design
for 28 kids, and the next year it went to 54, so we had to modify it even
before it was completely established.

12:11:55PeggyG: everyone come to see Colby’s K12 Online
presentation and conversation with him and Ginger (his teacher) today at 7:00pm
EDT. It’s the Fireside Chat for the conference keynote speakers and today it’s
Student Voices.

12:12:15GingerTPLC: The environment has a bit to do with the
desire for kids to BE at school year round.

12:12:40GingerTPLC: Optional summers would be good, only if you
have a big school with lots of teachers. That cuts out many schools from this

12:12:58Maureen: I used to love the scholastic reading program
when I was a kid- I read really fast and was at the silver level in no time-
and I thought I was cool because my reading level was gr 13… But it was too
easy and boring- not what I read on my own time.

12:13:27PeggyG: wasn’t Kevin Honeycutt blogging this week about
“personalized learning plans” for everyone?

12:13:35GingerTPLC: Right.

12:13:41GingerTPLC: Flexible time.

12:13:48GingerTPLC: 20% personal choice time.

12:13:51sheila: @Maureen – I remember loving the colors too, not
the reading.

12:14:11GingerTPLC: But it takes student responsibility. and MUCH
smaller class sizes for management of accomplishments.

12:14:27Cathy E: I like the idea of year round school- however
most of our teachers depend on “summer income” to survive.  They can make as much in 3 months as they
make in 9 months of teaching.

12:15:05sheila: @CathyE What do they do during the summer?

12:15:05PeggyG: that is a good point Cathy E–many teachers do
have to work summers to support their families

12:15:25Cathy E: waiting tables

12:15:30sheila: Ahhh!

12:15:36Cathy E: and bar tending

12:15:39McTeach (Karen): I love that idea!!!

12:16:27PeggyG: I remember that one of my teachers said he could
make more money driving a Budweiser truck for 3 months in the summer than he
did for 6 months as a teacher. Talk about priorities for education!! πŸ™ That’s
where Fiinland gets it RIGHT!

12:16:47Maureen: I hate working in the summer. The first year I
had to do computer stuff all summer was miserable. I want to be able to play
outside and grow things. Cannot do that during the school year. I also need the
summer for PD… and the time to really get into something.

12:16:50McTeach (Karen): I give my kids options all the time. They
thrive with it!

12:17:15McTeach (Karen): “Here’s what I want you to learn,
you decide how you’re going to show me you’ve learned it.”

12:17:17PeggyG: if you haven’t listened to Tim Tyson’s K12 Online
presentation, make sure you do! He talks about the Finnish school system and
why they are so successful and teachers are respected and revered and paid high

12:18:20Maureen: Maybe I can’t get into the mindset- I don’t take
vacations- my life style changes in the summer… it’s one of the other mes

12:18:44PeggyG: he doesn’t belong in a traditional school setting
but there should be alternatives for him!!

12:19:08GingerTPLC: Lisa’s describing 90% of TPLC school
population. They don’t belong in schooly-school.

12:19:21PeggyG: what a neat project Lisa!

12:19:40Maureen: Don’t your kids need to work? Mine both started
regular summer jobs at 12 yrs old.. and they learned a lot and made enough
money for the things they needed.

12:20:08Cathy E: Mine did too, Maureen

12:20:26PeggyG: that’s a wonderful concept Ginger! 20% personal
time like Google

12:20:55sheila: Yes, Maureen, especially being in a tourist area.
Businesses need the students, but then again, there’s college students who have
the summer off.

12:21:16McTeach (Karen): Peggy…I want to do that 20% idea with
my kids

12:21:57GingerTPLC: I think 1) communities should have a variety
of educational choices for kids, 2) education is less about teacher need and
more about kids needs.

12:21:57PeggyG: makes so much sense and gives them permission to
do something creative and motivating to them!

12:22:00Maureen: My kids wouldn’t have been able to have
“stuff” without working. I think they also learned a lot of skills-
working with “real” people skills that they wouldn’t have gotten

12:23:18Maureen: The majority of kids at my school go to lots of
camps in the summer- some regular old style camps and others to specialized
camps for various interests

12:24:27GingerTPLC: Maria, that should be on-going.

12:24:30sheila: You do need that renewal time.

12:24:50GingerTPLC: And I’d love a 2-3 week break in October and

12:25:24GingerTPLC: I’m WORN OUT in December. And March. And
April. And May.

12:25:41Maureen: Parents at my school already complain that we are
in school too long. The kids have mandatory sports after school, then barely
have time to eat dinner and do homework. I would much rather have them have
more time with family.

12:25:45GingerTPLC: I want shorter, more frequent breaks and so
would the kids.

12:26:10McTeach (Karen): Ginger…I’m already worn out now! Have
been for a couple of weeks.

12:26:31GingerTPLC: Yep, McTeach. Wouldn’t it be nice to have 2-3
weeks off each quarter?

12:26:31connect2jamie: @Maureen but many of my kids don’t have
families to go home and spend time with. Working parents. Go to daycare until
7pm or whatever.

12:26:39Maureen: @ginger- you don’t find that makes
learning/teaching choppy? I find that we don’t really settle in til Jan with
all the little breaks we have already.

12:26:41PeggyG: interesting conversation! just think if teachers
could stagger their arrival time and even days to accommodate the different
alternatives πŸ™‚ but that costs more money for more teachers…

12:27:10GingerTPLC: Yikes, Maureen. You don’t settle in til Jan?
What’s up with that?

12:27:33Maureen: @connect2jamie- I know the vast majority of kids
at my school are very lucky- have one or even both parents available at home

12:27:43sheila: And I want to restate Maureen’s comment about
going outside and playing. Needs to be included in the day! Investigate nature,

12:27:44Lisa Parisi: Why not just reorganize the staff that is
already there, Peggy?

12:28:01Lisa Parisi: Absolutely Sheila.

12:28:13GingerTPLC: Sheila, I agree! Needs to be a part of the day
in every season. Talk about fun learning!

12:28:45Maureen: @ginger- it just feels that way- the beginning
gets chopped up by holidays- jewish fall holidays, then there’s Thanksgiving,
then Christmas… seems like there aren’t enough 5 day weeks til Jan

12:28:46PeggyG: you could reorganize existing staff but sometimes
large class sizes make it difficult for having fewer teachers there at any
given hour

12:29:04sheila: I had several students this year who didn’t know
what pine pitch was! πŸ™ *)

12:29:19Lisa Parisi: I didn’t say large classes.  In fact, I think classes would be smaller
since kids would be with diff teachers at diff times.

12:29:19GingerTPLC: TPLC staff works, too hard admittedly, from
7am to 6pm. We meet each day when the last kid leaves at 5pm.

12:29:51Lisa Parisi: I want to wake up one day and have a school
where every child fits in and every teacher has time to plan, to learn, to
grow, and to teach.

12:29:54Maureen: @ginger- do your kids play sports?

12:29:56GingerTPLC: But that’s because we’re a small staff, no
renewing vacay time during the year, and we have no models to follow.

12:29:59GingerTPLC: Maureen, yes.

12:31:08PeggyG: Lisa, if you’re missing one teacher in the mix for
an hour it means there are more kids for the 3 remaining teachers during that

12:33:14PeggyG: cooling/air conditioning in AZ is a big factor
just like heating is during the winter in some places. That’s why schools in
New England take a winter break in Feb in addition to spring break.

12:33:49McTeach (Karen): Did Ginger just say

12:34:00GingerTPLC: I did! Pooh pooh. πŸ˜€

12:34:10PeggyG: we could definitely continue this conversation!!
so much to think about!

12:34:20McTeach (Karen): Ah…like Pooh Bear! πŸ™‚

12:34:20connect2jamie: Interesting discussion today. Love the 20%

12:34:31GingerTPLC: Thanks for having me in! This is something
I”m thinking, mostly because my parents are pushing for it.

12:34:37Cathy E: I have a favor…would ya’ll share this link in
your schools?’s+Class

12:34:38PeggyG: thanks everyone!

12:34:48Lisa Parisi:

12:35:07Nedra: Thanks, enjoyed listening as I worked today.

12:35:22GingerTPLC: Uh oh. Ageism. It’s real.

12:35:32PeggyG: how interesting–next week’s topic is ageism πŸ™‚
Think I’d better be there!

12:35:54PeggyG: Yes-skype me in Sheila! When?

12:36:20connect2jamie: Exciting week for you Sheila! Very cool!

12:36:35PeggyG: be sure to come and hear Ginger and her student
Colby on the Fireside Chat!

12:36:40sheila: Will do PeggyG. Will chat later.

12:36:54Lisa Parisi: Bye all.


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