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Ditch That Homework

One of the questions that seems to come up regarding the Flex Mod schedule revolves around how this change can help to prepare our students better for their futures in either college or career.  

I will be the first to admit that I had this question as well.  I had a difficult time grasping how the varying schedule mimicked the real world of academia much less a job where one has to serve the time as prescribed by the powers that be.

Then, however, I reflected on my day-to-day life.  In my life, I have to set priorities, juggle expectations, make the best use of my own time, and create the habits that will best serve me for the long haul.  As I continued to ponder the Flex Mod schedule, I realized that this schedule, indeed, helps to prepare kids more purposefully for the real world where, yes, there are time demands, but often within the start and finish times, initiative, establishing systems and procedures that work for the individual, collaboration, self-efficacy, and self-monitoring are paramount.

I recently read the educational book by Matt Miller and Alice Keeler called Ditch That Homework.  In this book, they take the time to share eight skills that students must learn in high school to be successful beyond our brick walls (2017, pages 88-117).

  1. Solid study skills tops the list.  They say, “Giving students both choice and decision-making power is crucial to helping them learn how to study.  When students find their best method of studying, they can enter the college environment with confidence” (pg. 89).  Our advisory period within the Flex Mod is designed to do just this. Through our schedule, students will prioritize their academic needs and meet with individual teachers to develop and practice content-specific study skills.  

  2. Decision-making and Independent Learning Skills.  “In college, students make countless decisions every day.  That means that before they get to college, they need to practice making decisions and learn to think for themselves” (pg 92).  Personalized Learning Time is designed to give students the autonomy to make the decisions, determine their priorities, and gain valuable experience to be independent learners.  Jr and Sr High school is where students have a safe place to explore their learning and study styles. This is a safe place to try something new that may or may not work, and have the support to make the adjustments they need.

  3. Critical Thinking Skills.  Through the work of teachers in Professional Learning Community Teams, we are learning how to help students to dig more deeply into content instead of just gaining a lot of surface knowledge.  Small group instruction that allows for interventions and extensions in learning will help to provide opportunities for students to develop the critical thinking skills they need to succeed at the next level.

  4. Digital Research Skills.  Digital Citizenship is critical in our current environment.  As students learn to maneuver through the new schedule, they will be relying upon their digital resources to gain knowledge, share knowledge and thoughts, and to sift through hundreds of thousands of pieces of information to find the truth.  Students need the time and motivation to do this, which they will get.

  5. Meeting Authentic Deadlines.  While time serves the students, we would be remiss if we were to ignore this concept.  We all must meet authentic deadlines in our lives — we pay taxes by April 15; we complete projects for events; we are prepared with our speech for the date of the banquet.  When teachers prepare for the different time increments of the week for each class, they will be able to provide students with more accurate, more authentic deadlines. Deadlines become more critical.  Students have the time to prepare for these deadlines with the expert to help in the classroom, which, in turn, offers the students more authentic feedback as they prepare.

  6. Teamwork Skills.  The authors share that the skills of the future include:  “Problem Solving, Creativity, People Management, Emotional Intelligence, and Making Judgments” (pg. 111).  When the schedule includes opportunities for students to have greater lengths of time to work together, they are able to develop these future-ready skills.

  7. Short-term Goal-setting Skills.  “When we become better goal-setters, we become better self-regulators of our own learning” (pg. 114).  The time increments in Flex-Mod help students develop the skills for meeting short-term goals. They must be the masters of their learning, setting the goals for each day and for their Personalized Learning Time.  

  8. Informal Learning Skills.  “What’s most valuable, though, is helping students discover and pursue their passions outside of class as a means of becoming better humans” (pg. 115).  When students begin to direct their own learning, doing the work to dig more deeply into the issues that are of most interest to them, then they are well on their way to becoming the humans we hope for them to be.  They are more equipped to be future-ready.

Ditch That Homework

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