Thursday, June 26, 2014

We Need More Time

I woke up this morning thinking about Google forms and spreadsheets.


Like most reading teachers I know, at some point during the year I want my students to create and turn in a list of the books that they've read that year. I've done this a variety of ways over the years: handwritten lists, spreadsheets imported from Goodreads, spreadsheets from Google forms.

But that's not what I want to write about today.

As I came more fully awake this morning, and as my brain kept thinking about Google forms and spreadsheets, I had the thought that brought me fully awake: Time spent teaching students to make a Google form is time not spent reading or writing.

I knew this, of course. I'd already had that thought awake, but for some reason my sleeping brain returned to it.

So I'm thinking about time.

I haven't made many decisions about next year, and I'm still waiting for some school-level decisions to be made (like how many periods we will have of humanities next year), but I know that I have to take back control over how we use time in the classroom. Reading and social studies have taken too much time away from writing, and writing needs that time back.

Next year I will most likely have 13 or 14 40-minute periods to teach a combination of reading, language arts, and social studies. (While it's listed as language arts on report cards, I always call it writing.) The 15th period is library.

If I were to add up everything I want to do in a week, and everything I'm mandated to do, and everything my students need, I could easily fill all 45 periods on our schedule each week, including lunch, study hall, and mass. Somehow I don't see that happening.

So how do I find the time? How do I stop to teach a technology skill, valuable and useful though it is, when it takes away from reading and writing? And if I can't find the time, how can English teachers with only one period each day to teach both reading and writing find the time?

So that's what I'm thinking about this morning.

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