Longer school day has minimal effect on Chinook’s schools

Recent changes to the Education Act by the Government of Saskatchewan have led to an increase in instructional hours to students.

For Chinook School Division, this means increasing from 920 hours to 950 hours per year. Chinook is working closely with their schools to accommodate the additional hours within the school day.
“We have to fit these hours into 184 instructional days between Labour Day and June 30, which comes down to approximately 10 minutes per day,” explained Joanne Booth, communications co-ordinator with Chinook. “We will do our best to fit in extra time within the day, as we prefer to not affect start and end times of the school day as it is now.”
With that 10 minutes, Chinook hopes to create a standard block of time for math, like they did with ELA for K-8 during the Balanced Literacy initiative. Booth is confident this change will allow them to take advantage of the extra time and focus on the division’s current priority, Math Momentum.
“I think we use this time wisely, and pick up that time in areas of priorities within the division,” noted Brad Robinson, principal of Stewart Valley School. “It will have a bit of an impact on the school, as we cannot adjust the beginning and end of our day, this time will need to be absorbed within our existing timetable.”
Each school will work their schedules a bit differently, depending on classroom availability, bussing, staffing and other factors.
“We will make sure that other subjects are also scheduled in with appropriate time,” added Booth. “For high school classes it will allow for some extra time towards course content.”
Vice-Principal of École Oman School, Angela Schindel, is excited for the additional instructional time. She noted so far, reactions from parents have been minimal.
“We really see it as a benefit for our students, to help maximize the learning successes they have within the school day,” she said. “We are confident that we can fit it into our schedule without impacting the length of the school day, so it can be a smooth, positive transition for everyone involved.”
Feedback from parents of Chinook children has been limited, as the new schedules have yet to be released.
Elaine Robitaille, whose daughter is currently in Grade 9 at Swift Current Comprehensive High School, is already curious about the changes.
“I am all for a little more instructional time in a day versus fewer days off, and so is my daughter, but I’m curious what, if any, improvement it will have on overall learning,” she explained. “I don’t necessarily think more instructional time results in better outcomes for the student, and at a certain amount of time, I believe it results in just the opposite. To me, the question is always: how can you improve the quality of the time in the learning place?”
Amanda Huxted, who has a daughter attending kindergarten at Oman School, is also wondering what kind of impact the additional time will have on her child’s education.
“I think they should put more effort into quality of education, and not worry so much about time,” she said. “I know time flies by fast and they have lots to do, but as a parent I’m fine with the way it is. I know teachers have to co-ordinate the planning of what they do in a day, and it’s good, if they feel they need more time.”
Currently, the division is working closely with the community to get their 2013-2014 calendar finalized, and then will be working with schools and administrative staff to work on each school’s daytime schedule.
“We will work together to make sure any impact is positive for parents and for families,” Booth added. “We intend to use this added time to focus on the learning needs of our students.”

via SW Sask News – Prairie Post – Prairie Post http://www.prairiepost.com/news/sw-sask/item/3664-longer-school-day-has-minimal-effect-on-chinooks-schools.html

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