17-18 Budget Deeper Dive: Instructional Time (4 of 5)

17-18 Budget Deeper Dive: Instructional Time (4 of 5)
Posted on 03/30/2017
  Dr. Jeff Melendez
Superintendent-Principal
melendezj@shermanschool.com

RESPONSIBILITY | COURAGE | HONESTY | RESPECT

March 30, 2017
 
Dear Sherman School Community,

I am writing to provide families and members of the Sherman Community with some more details regarding how the 2017-2018 Budget and our Master Schedule prioritizes instructional time.

Academic Instructional Time
The manner in which we measure instructional time differs from elementary to middle school. Because our younger students are in self-contained classrooms for the length of the day (sans lunch/recess and special), PK-3 teachers have the flexibility to make decisions about how long they will spend on each subject.  Although we have common curricular expectations, our teachers have the autonomy to decide when they need to spend more time on a particular subject, and when it is appropriate for them to move on.  Teachers base these decisions on how well their students are grasping a topic, and they know they can always return to concepts the next day if needed.  In the middle school, however, bells dictate the start and end of instructional time. This is necessary because classes are taught by content specialists who only see students for a prescribed number of minutes on a fixed schedule.  Because we have decentralized instruction in grades 4-5, they follow a hybrid of these models wherein students rotate through three double periods (Math, Reading and Social Studies, and Science and Writing).

In order for us to add things like Exploration Period (XP) and Executive Functioning, without lengthening the school day, we needed to make some difficult decisions regarding how to prioritize the time allocated to each subject.  Over the course of a six day cycle in the Middle School (minus XP, Lunch and Special) there are a total of 36 periods available for instruction. The table below indicates the average number of 42 minute periods dedicated to each academic subject.  As you can see, Math and ELA receive highest priority:

Periods of Middle School Academic Content (number of 42 minute periods every six days)
Grade        ELA                        Math                      Science                   Social Studies        Spanish                Exec. Functioning   
6 10 10 6 5 4 1
7 10 10 6 5 4 1
8 9.5 9.5 6 5 5 1

Although we needed to reduce contact time in some areas to allow us to achieve our goals with XP, Executive Functioning and increased time in Science, please know that the time we allocate to ELA and Math in the Middle School exceeds State recommendations and, in fact, provides more daily instructional time than some of the highest performing school districts in Fairfield County.  I have every confidence in the ability of our students to thrive with our new schedule. 

Special Area Instructional Time
Similarly, in 2017-2018, our specials' schedule has undergone some modifications which has allowed us to add some wonderful new programs such as Technology Education, Music Technology and Advanced Art.  The table below provides a comparative view of the changes in instructional time for each special from this year to next: 

Instructional Minutes Per Week 
Grade  Art Music Physical Education Health   Library / Tech. Ed.

16-17      17-18      16-17      17-18      16-17    17-18    16-17      17-18      16-17 17-18
K 67 84 67 84 67 84 33 42 67 42
1 67 84 67 84 67 84 33 42 67 42
2 67 84 67 84 67 42 33 42 67 42
3 67 84 67 84 67 42 33 42 67 42
4 67 42 67 42 67 42 62 42 67 70
5 67 42 67 42 67 42 62 42 67 70
6 67 35 67 70 67 35 33 35 0 35
7 67 35 67 70 67 35 33 35 0 35
8 67 35 67 70 67 35 33 35 0 35

It is important to note that the table above does not reflect the increase in time for students to be meaningfully engaged in arts and athletics beyond the traditional special area curricula.  The list below highlights a few of these additional offerings:

  • Structured Recess (up to 96 min. per week, grades 2-8)
  • Spanish (42 min. per week, grades 4-5)
  • Advanced Art (up to 90 min. per week, grades 4-8)
  • Band (45 min. per week, grades 4-8)
  • Chorus (45 min. per week, grades 4-8)
  • Exploration Period, XP (135 min. per week, grades 4-8)
  • Intramurals (grades 4-8) and Interscholastic Athletics (grades 6-8) at no cost to parents

I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have regarding these or any other details.  Please do not hesitate to call if I can be of assistance.

 
Sincerely,
Jeff Melendez
THE SHERMAN SCHOOL
2 Route 37 East | Sherman, CT 06784
P 860.355.3793 | F 860.355.9023 | W shermanschool.com
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