In Defense of Year-Round Schools (aka there’s too much left to do before summer)

Spring is in the air! The weather is slowly starting to warm up, little green buds are sprouting on the trees, and my allergies are starting to kick in. Also, this week we began 4th quarter. It’s also known as “the light at the end of the tunnel” for both students and teachers.  The nice thing about 4th quarter is that everyone gets a little extra boost of energy. It’s like when you are running a race and you can see the finish line and you suddenly notice that you actually do have more energy than you thought because you are able to sprint to the end. There is one major flaw with 4th quarter… I feel like we’re just getting started. We’re on a roll, in a groove, and everyone is making nice progress. This would be the perfect time to get involved in some amazing projects, except the end of the school year is fast approaching.  What to do?   Year-round school is sounding more and more inviting!


photo credit: The Start and Finish Line of the “Inishowen 100” Scenic Drive via photopin (license)

Here is the list of things I’d still like to accomplish this year (and why it would be so much easier if we were in school all year).

1. Connect with a class from another school. 

I think my students could really benefit from using technology to connect with students from a different school.  This would be a wonderful way to practice our digital citizenship skills, get feedback in a new way, and learn about a different place. There are so many options available from mystery skype to edublogs and google plus communities and more and more teachers seem to be jumping on board with inter-class connections.  This project requires long-term commitment to really establish a relationship. Summer is definitely getting in the way!


2. Do a problem/project-based-learning project.

We need to do this!  PBL seems to be just what I need to get my students to understand that they are capable of learning about real world issues and demonstrating what they know in an authentic way (they beg for worksheets!). This student-centered, collaborative, interdisciplinary approach would be a huge undertaking but well worth it.  This type of work is so challenging for my students. It needs a lot of scaffolding and a lot of time. Darn you summer.

3. Allow my students to teach.

I am so fortunate to be in a district that has and uses lots of technology. I also feel lucky that my administrators are on board with me teaching my students how to use technology  to access curriculum in many different ways.  We have run with the ball and we have surpassed many of the general education peers and teachers with our technology skills.  How empowering would it be for my students to be the “experts” for a day and teach the teachers a thing or two? Answer: Very!  I’d love to establish a culture where this becomes the norm at my school. The idea of teachers learning from students is so exciting and empowering to me. It’s too bad those summer months will come along right as we’re making progress.

4. Do a service learning project. 

While my students have significant needs and utilize the services of many providers, they have so many gifts to offer the community.  I see this as a win-win for everyone.  My students will see that they are valued and can do important work for others.  The community will reap the benefits of our hard work and will also get the message that young people with disabilities also have numerous abilities.  This first requires research and community connections to be established.  The summer would be the perfect time to do this! If only we were in school.

5. Have my students connect with someone famous.

Ok, I know this sounds shallow, trivial, and stupid, but hear me out.  My students go through their daily life at school without thinking beyond the walls of our school.  They need something huge to happen.  They need to be shaken up in the best possible way. They are so tuned in to pop culture and television, youtube, and movies and if a famous actor or singer or sports figure took notice of them, even if just for a minute, it would be the most exciting thing to ever happen. And that excitement is what I need to get my students to push themselves.  They’re tired of hearing my pep talks. Bring on Taylor Swift!  I have the feeling getting a shout out from a famous person requires relentless pestering.  The summer is definitely going to put a wrench into that plan.

While I comment about needing more time and the summer hampering all of the amazing projects I’d still like to tackle, the process of creating this list is giving me energy and inspiration. Yes, it is April, but I’m not going to let the fact that it’s fourth quarter get in the way of my goals. We’ve done a lot already this year and the push to the finish line could be just what I need to push hard and accomplish more than I anticipated.


4 thoughts on “In Defense of Year-Round Schools (aka there’s too much left to do before summer)

  1. Mari Venturino April 11, 2015 / 5:00 am

    I teach in a modified year-round school, and we still have 1/4 of the school year left. We’re out June 5th, and then start on July 22nd(ish). Our summer is 6 weeks, then we have a 2 week fall break, 1 week thanksgiving break, 3 week winter break, and 2 week spring break. It really is the best of both worlds. And, since you mention it, there really is a lot I’d like to accomplish between now and the end of the year. Right about now is when I start my end of the year to-do lists and idea lists for next school year.


    • Lisa Berghoff April 11, 2015 / 12:31 pm

      That schedule sounds wonderful! I’d love to hear about your students and their retention. The big summer break really causes my students to regress, even if they do extended school year. It’s just not the same.


  2. Carrie Baughcum April 11, 2015 / 11:10 am

    i could not agree more it’s you Lisa. For years I have wanted year round schooling. It is one of many things I wish school districts would just get over thinking about it (if they are at all) and just do. There is so much benefit to it. I also start to feel the same way in April. It is the opportunity to do more, do differently. My classroom changes so much every year just around this time. Is it too late for our classes to try and connect?!


    • Lisa Berghoff April 11, 2015 / 12:30 pm

      Of course we can still connect!! That would be wonderful. Let’s talk about the best way to do it and make it our 4th quarter project:)


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