GOAL 4: TIME
Reimagine the use of time.
The hours students spend each day on their education can be restructured to create an experience that focuses on meaningful content and 21st century skills.
"Who seriously believes that locking 25 student in a small room with one adult for several hours each day is the best way for them to be educated?" Prakash Nair asks in Don't Just Rebuild Schools--Reinvent Them. "In the 21st century, education is about project-based learning, connections with peers around the world, service learning, independent research, design and creativity, and, more than anything else, critical thinking..."
A new school-day schedule will make time for project-based work, interdisciplinary and cross-divisional work. And it will allow flexibility, as the classroom continues to expand through use of the Internet, outdoor campus spaces, internships and other leaning opportunities an resources in metropolitan Philadelphia.
AND WE WILL:
Rethink and refine learning outside school hours, including homework, to engage students in meaningful work.
Plan time for reflection and mindfulness.
View a students' day and year holistically, supporting balance and a healthy pace.
Support the tradition of strong student-teacher relationships.
We switch from a trimester to a semester calendar beginning in September 2016 to create opportunity for project-based and experiential learning, and to help students achieve a healthier pace and balance in the school day and the school year.
In his communication about the change to parents, Director of Upper School Travis Larrabee explained the change:
A semester structure does not completely solve all of the issues cited above, and it does force us to limit the overall number of course offerings. That being said, we feel that semesters are a better fit for the Upper School because they would:
- Help with issues of pace and balance, especially when combined with other current initiatives/discussions (such as homework load, digital distractions). Semesters also would offer more “room” and flexibility for planning courses, projects, assessments.
- Allow for greater depth of study, especially in electives and service learning courses. The goal is not necessarily to add more content, but rather to take a “deeper dive.” Semesters are better suited for project-based learning, which we are incorporating more.
- Not have dramatic impact on year-long courses, althought they have already led us to think of structuring those courses differently.
- Better absorb schedule changes & interruptions.
- Create greater flexibility to think about other potential major changes in areas such as the daily schedule and the Senior Comprehensive Project.
- Accommodate study abroad interest more easily.
- And, given the high percentage of Early Decision and Early Action applicants, they would allow College Counseling to reports grades to colleges in a timely manner that is more consistent with our peer schools.
Middle School Mornings
While moving to semesters will potentially change the pace of the school year, beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year Middle School will change the daily schedule for students and move the long block classes (60 minutes) to the morning. According to brain research, mid-morning is a time of focus and attention for Middle School aged students.
Online Learning Management System
In September 2015, we rolled out The Hub, PC’s online learning management system.
The Hub is a one-stop site for teachers to post class materials and assignments, for students to easily access in and out of school, and for parents to receive teacher communications and check team schedules.
The feedback from students, teachers and parents about the Hub has been very positive in this first year.