The Wawascene was created by Dr. Mark Stock, former Superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Due to its local popularity, Dr. Stock has left the blog site to future Wawasee administrators.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Organized abandonment

A recent workshop presenter made the statement, "If we don't get a child up to speed in reading by the time they are 9 years old, it will be very difficult to close the gaps."

He then described a protocol for the lower grades (K-3) that requires 90 minutes per day of language arts instruction. If the child is still behind then they are assigned three 30 minute one-on-one tutoring sessions a week and if that doesn't close the reading gap sufficiently then they are assigned two 30 minute one-on-one tutoring sessions per DAY....all of this is in addition to the 90 minutes of language arts instruction provided by the regular classroom teacher.

So....from the stunned looks of the audience it was easy to see what they were thinking. What do schools have to give up in order to be able to provide that level of support?

One expert calls this "organized abandonment." In other words, in some organized fashion, schools must come to consensus and STOP doing some things in order to do others.

A few years ago we had a public initiative titled, "What do you want the public schools to do?" The overwhelming consensus was that our main mission was to send all students to 10th grade, reading, writing and doing math well.

What wasn't discussed was, "What should schools STOP doing in order to provide resources for those that aren't reading, writing and doing math well. I sense it may be time for a public discussion on what will prove to be a rousing debate.

If you have opinions on this...please be kind to each other.


Anonymous said...

Case in point...accelerated math and reading is an hour and a half a day 3-4 days a week, while science and social studies is 1 hour per week...hmmm I wonder what will be cut out.

My question is what will happen when those subjects begin to be tested? How will a building get its staff to focus on more cross-curricular delivery of teaching?

And at what point will we begin burning out every teacher with all the hoops that they must jump through? I can see the reason there for a "teacher shortage" or an average of a 5 year teaching career. Yeah they work nine months for a years wage, but they can do the same work, spread out over a longer time, with more pay in the private sector. And it doesn't seem to get any better with time because teachers are constantly recieving more mandates.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a comment as much as a question. You mentioned the protocol beginning at the kindergarten level. What are the implications for full day kindergarten? While some people say FDK is simply "childcare" it seems to me that if what you are saying is correct, the added time could have a huge impact for certain students. Of course that requires that the students be identified at the kindergarten level and then enrolled for the full day.

Anonymous said...

Someone posted about teacher burn-out if we eliminate some subjects and concentrated only on math, reading and writing. How about student burn-out? I agree that these three areas are very important. But the arts areas, life skill classes, and physical education provide a release for most students. A low reader may often excell in the arts or physical endeavors etc. Isn't that OK? These classes work very hard to integrate reading, math, and writing into their daily curriculum. I see a drop in graduation rates and attendance if we "adopt" organized abandonment in our schools. All subject areas have state standards, so at least Indiana acknowledges that students should be well-rounded.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps an option could be to offer the additional tutoring, one on one either before school in the morning or after school a few days per week...or if those kids go to the day care or latch key programs, perhaps the enrichment could take place at those locations.

Either way, volunteer tutors could be trained to handle the sessions with the students, which would reduce the burden on the teachers, reduce classtime spent catching everyone up, and allow for other subjects to be taught, besides math and reading.

I know that the Kiwanis clubs exist to improve the lives of children--it is their mission. That is an automatic pool of dedicated volunteers who could be trained fairly cheaply, provided with materials and space, and they could help the kids with their reading.

Anonymous said...

Let's cut to the chase. The reality is that our elementary schools spend a lot of time in the traditions of elementary school. Most holiday weeks and the end of the school year are full of parties and field trips galore. Really, how many times do kids need to go to the fire station and Lakeside Park? If we cut these things and focused on the business of schools - educating the children - we could get a lot more done. I also have to wonder why we use two math programs: Saxon and Accelerated Math. It seems to me that Accelerated Math gets kids where they need to go and the traditional math instruction of Saxon creates a nice spiral, but it also forces kids into math they aren't ready for or that they have already surpassed, whereas ACM keeps them where they need to be to maximize learning.

In addition, we could cut a bunch of the boring, aweful literature that kids are exposed to in favor of choice reading and differentiated instruction which can be facilitated through Accelerated Reader and other individualized tools.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the above poster. I also think that there is no reason to feed the kids lunch while at school. They can eat when they get home. Not to mention all the time spent on using the bathroom and getting drinks.

If these students would just stop acting like such kids and spend time studying we could get so much more done!

Anonymous said...

Cut to the chase? The real "chase" is this: 1) WSCS schools (elementary) don't have the money to take "field trips galore" nor do the schools have time to have parties through entire "holiday weeks." 2) Any foundations of education literature (could be the "awful" reading you mentioned) talks about schools being a big part in socialization of students. This may mean taking a trip to the fire station to see what happens there or going to the park to learn to play with others...any person in any position in any job in the world needs to have these skills, which are rooted in their experiences as young children. 3) Saxon Math is not challenging for many students and ACM isn't always user-friendly. 4) Accelerated Reader is a good program, although schools are finding that kids are working for the wrong goals of points and quick rewards.
How about picking up some of that "awful" literature? Kids need to realize there are things other than Spongebob and Superman.

Anonymous said...

How about this....Acc. Math as a supplement and a real math book. Spiral is nice, but you need some drill and practice. And Acc. Reading...please if all we used was AR we'd be up a creek. It teaches no reading skills, only the ability to read and recall facts.