Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rotary instruction, repeated

The Sarnia Observer posted this story Sunday about a group of parents who want the Lambton-Kent board to reverse the retreat on rotary instruction for intermediate students.
“Our point is, ‘Why wreck a good thing that doesn’t seem to be broken?’” asked Sandy Laird, who has sons in Grade 5 and Grade 8 at the school.
“One teacher teaches math, another teaches science, another one does the arts,” Laird said. “So it kind of gets (the students) used to high school, going from one teacher to the other.”
Hrm. I wonder how these same parents would feel about sending their children to a Grade 7-12 school, where the Grade 7-8 students would receive rotary instruction by default.
Not mentioned (not asked?) is whether the move away from rotary may have anything to do with declining enrolment. Fewer Grade 7-8 classes in each school likely makes it much more challenging to do rotary instruction. Picture it-- you have a split Grade 6/7, a split Grade 7/8 and a Grade 8 class in your school. How do you do rotary in that mix? Take out the time students spend with their French teacher and (where applicable) their music/drama teacher out, and that's still a lot of time left in the schedule with only three teachers who can rotate between classes. It's not impossible, but it becomes a greater challenge.
Ditto when you make that even smaller -- say only a split Grade 6/7 and Grade 7/8. Or, even smaller (and there are an increasing number of schools out there where this is reality) with one Grade 7/8 split. How do you do rotary then?


Anonymous said...

Wasn't this rotary issue also going on in Bluewater?

Actually Education Reporter re: the Sarnia case, the Director's very last line in the piece says it all for me.

It's all about being able to manage the teachers' time...not about what's good for the kids. Why not just tell that to the parents from the beginning? I doubt very much that enough studies have been done to know whether one way actually leads to better achievement for students.
Then again, the Minister of Educatino could ask OISE to conduct their own research and them report back their findings so they support the move - it's not like it hasn't been tried before.

You make excellent points re: those 7-12 schools where the selling point to moving 7&8s into secondary is to run on a secondary rotary schedule.

Those split grades in the Sr. grades have plenty to do with those class caps than anything else I think. We were told to expect more splits in a community experiencing a decline in enrolment.

I don't understand why all schools have to be the same?

Anonymous said...

One teacher teaches math, another teaches science, another one does the arts,” Laird said100 minutes of Language per day
60 minutes of mathematics per day
40 minutes of French per day
20 minutes of daily physical education per day.

So where is the easy switch between teachers? High school teachers teach courses of study based on streamed choice. Elementary teachers teach a class of students who are the same age of various abilities. Laird is suggesting the apple should be more like the orange. Good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

Excellent point Anon. 23:40. I think that in this particular board the admin. are talking circles around the school community hoping no one will ask too many questions.

A good education reporter is needed.

Education Reporter said...

Yes, rotary is one of the issues at play in Bluewater -- a request to return to rotary intermediate instruction.
The largest grade cohort, depending on the board, is roughly between grades 8-10 right now. Which means, with the exception of GTA boards, every cohort currently below Grade 8 in many boards is smaller than the one above it.
This will make programming such as rotary simply too challenging to accomplish in many K-8 schools. For boards that have middle schools or 7-12, they will have different options available to them as they deal with the decline.
As to the administrators-- they need to take the time to explain their rationale. Having said that, parents need to listen long and well enough to hear the entire explanation-- not stop listening and start opposing when they hear a part they don't like.
As to the reporting... I've already got a job, thanks. :D

Anonymous said...

I also think that administrators need to start telling the truth about moves like this which help them manage the teacher contract requirements. Maybe parents would appreciate that more than the song and dance about it being better for students.

And if there's one thing I've learned about education in Ontario is that just because a standard works in one place, doesn't mean it works in another place.

Actually, maybe we're too big a province to be mirco-managed by central governing body? Maybe it's time to split the ministry into regions? Something's really going to have to give in the governance department I think. What with fewer students to educate, and shrinking budgets, a change has to be in the province's future down the road.

Then again, I attended a Jr.High School that was a stand alone facility and we did the whole timetable and rotary schedule AND we got to selection electives for things like media studies, home ec., woodworking etc.etc.