Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I can't even watch TV without thinking about school

My good friend Melissa is just starting her blog.  In her second post, she writes about measuring time in minutes.  It got me thinking a little, no a lot.  Then, to give my brain a break from thinking about school stuff for a bit, I turned on my TV and tried to watch one of my recorded, hour long shows.  I am watching a summer finale of one of them now.  (And as a side note, the show is getting really good.)  How can they manage to wrap this up in an hour?  Well, actually, the show isn't an hour any more.  You have commercials, etc.  So, the real question is, how can they wrap this up in 45 minutes?

Then - because this is how my brain works - whoa, this is just like my classroom!  I only have 52 minutes to wrap up a lesson, tie up all loose ends, and yet leave my students craving for more.  Whoops, hit pause (because I love my DVR) and reflect on this some more.

Really, let's think about it.  I have a story to tell.  I have only an hour... well less than that because of commercial breaks (collecting homework, office pass arrives, hey you kid - you owe the library a book, etc.)  I need to interest them to come back after the commercials, keep them guessing as to how the story ends, and invite them back for more.  Each day.  It has put a new light on what I have been doing for the past two decades.  Sure, I have had my flops.  But I also have had some real winners, too.

This year, I think I am going to treat one unit as a mini-series.  I want to have a unit like Lonesome Dove.  If you miss one day of class, you will call someone to find out what happened to Sheriff Berg.  Ha, too much.  Now to see what happens to Annie.  Don't spoil it for me, please.


  1. Interesting idea. I feel the same problem myself as a lesson designer. Basically every time I design a math lesson, the core instruction has to fit into a 35 minute chunk of time to allow for practice and other class activities. Sometimes I feel like I can wrap everything up nicely in 35 minutes, and other times I just...do my best. Thankfully I have a team of folks who review my lessons and help make sure I'm not asking too much of the teacher or students. I like your mini-series idea. Most big concepts carry over several days, even if the day-to-day lessons might focus on different things. It's a neat way to think about it.