Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Instructional Season

Two-A-Days. If you've played high school football or marched with the high school band, you're already familiar with this term. If not, let me explain. Towards the end of summer vacation and the beginning of the school year, teams and bands often practice twice a day: once in the morning and again in the afternoon or evening. The purpose of Two-A-Days is not to tire out the kids (although that can be an added benefit!). Coaches and band directors structure this double dose of practice to help kids get into shape for the season and to give ample opportunities for players and musicians to learn new routines and procedures.

Maybe we should pay attention to what our extra-curricular colleagues can teach us. Here are a few practical ways to use Two-A-Days to create the kind of classroom you want, the kind your students need.

  • Have a routine or procedure in your classroom that just isn't going as smoothly as it should? Try a Two-A-Day. Practice once in the morning or at the beginning of the bell, then rehearse it again at the end.
  • Want to reinforce a student's appropriate behavior or praise a child who needs encouragement? Give them a double dose. Two-A-Days will let the student know that you care and that you're noticing their efforts.
  • Need to build your students' background knowledge for an upcoming unit or challenging topic? Create some new schema by reading short content-area text to your guessed it, twice a day.

The list could go on and on. Two-A-Days are a reminder to us that redundancy is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it gives students an extra chance for needed practice, and gets us all in shape for the "instructional season" ahead. Let's get on the field and play!

For more ideas about academic routines and managerial procedures, check out this link from Scholastic. The research and practical tips given are perfect reading for this time of year. Maybe you should even read it twice!



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