Creative Uses for Extra Class Time

This year, my school switched to a schedule in which every class meets five days a week for 45 minutes. This schedule increases seat time with our students but leads to some challenges as well. At first, many teachers felt overwhelmed. They believed that the new schedule required them to produce a polished lesson with direct instruction every single day! The schedule also was burning out the kids because they were getting hit with new content in every class every day. MY GOODNESS, NO!! Something needed to change. As part of my role as curriculum coordinator, I started a lunch discussion group for teachers to gather and discuss relevant issues during one lunch period per week. Our first topic was creative uses for the extra class time that spice things up for students and give some relief to teachers. Here are some of the ideas we generated.

  • In a science class, rather than have a lab be a one-and-done endeavor, spend the next day doing a follow up discussion about the lab.
  • Allow in-class time for things you would normally assign for homework (worksheets, problem sets, etc.)
  • Make one day a week a “research day” and allow students to do research on anything that interests them (that is still related to your course in some way). Over time, help them make their research more rigorous and perhaps make a full project out of it. (similar to genius hour or 20 percent time)
  • Make one day a week a current events day where students give presentations connecting what they are learning to things they see in the media or on the news.
  • Rather than devote an entire class period to something different, split up lessons that would normally only take one day into two or more days. Then, give students silent reading time at the beginning of each class.
  • Start each class with a 15 minute writing prompt.
  • Give long term projects and allot class time every week to work on them.
  • Give students a study hall or a catch-up day once a week.
  • Have a community building activity every once in a while.
  • Encourage reflection and metacognition.
  • Having some structure in your week to week schedule is good for example:
  • Every Monday is “Media Monday”
  • We have direct instruction on Tuesday and Thursday, work days on Mondays and Wednesdays and Labs on Friday.
  • Every Friday is “Funky Friday” where we do a hands on activity related to the material


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