When you think of a typical school day, it’s usually filled with classes like history, science and math. But what if you could have a whole day to learn about and do the things you're most interested in? One school is trying it out.
When you walk into this classroom at Aurora Hills Middle School, it seems like an average day at school. But for these students, it’s different. It’s their “plus day,” the one day of the week they have only elective classes.
“It's absolutely terrifying, because we've never been there before,” says teacher Cynthia Krull. “There is really no model to see what it was might look like.”
Krull helped design the new schedule with her school and School by Design, a company that partners with schools to find opportunities with their existing resources. Krull’s school, located in Colorado, sought out School by Design in an effort to raise students’ grades.
Having the “plus day” not only gives students a day to shift their focus, it helps teachers as well.
And not only do students get a day to shift focus, teachers do too.
Krull says the planning day has led to more teacher partnerships, cohesive lessons, and ultimately, better student outcomes.
“We're doing area and perimeter and surface area, and I have sixth graders who are like, ‘Oh yeah, we spent a whole hour doing that. I already know how to do it.’ And, so, it's really propelled our project,” Krull says.
Students say they enjoy the change up, because it offers opportunities to learn new things.
“That day, you are relaxed,” says student Tatum Starks. “You are learning new things, fun things, and then indeed, in the light, you can be focused for other classes and you have to mix.”
Another student, Jayla Bellamy, agrees, “It feels good because then I get to learn something totally new.”
Principal Marcella Garcia says the best part is they've been able to make the changes without using additional money or resources.
“My hope is that every student will be accelerated in their learning and that teachers will be able to really empower themselves and be the professionals that they are,” Garcia says.