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June 12, 2014 3 More Responses to Critics of Summer Break By Christy Crawford
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    Roll call! In response to my post from June of last year "Five Responses to Critics of Summer Break," educators from around the country sounded off about their plans to rejuvenate themselves and their curriculum, as well as their strategies for plunging into the new school year ready for battle. This year I'm focusing on one particular argument from summer vacation opponents: Children in the United States spend less time in school than other countries. Less time in school results in poor classroom performance.

    In a review of instructional time in schools around the world, the Center for Public Education found: 

    "The relationship between time and student learning is not about the amount of time spent in school. Rather, it is how effectively that time is used."  

    "This report has also shown that there is no relationship between simply requiring more time and increased achievement."

    Read on for three new responses to silence summer break detractors, and for a chance to share your summer break plans:


    Response 1:  Finland

    Elementary school kids in Finland have less instructional time than any state in the U.S., and yet Finland is in the top of every academic chart in the world. You know what they say about quality over quantity.




    Response 2:  Japan 

    Middle school students in Japan get 868 hours of instruction per year. That's fewer hours of instructional time than most kids in the U.S., and they beat America in education rankings every time. Could it be because Japan has a high regard for teachers, they value education, and they make time for their teachers to study? Could it be that quality wins over quantity — again?!  



    Response 3:  Korea 

    Middle school students in Korea get 867 hours of instructional time per year — less than most American students.

    Finland, Korea, Japan . . . there's a pattern here. Successful education systems make time for ongoing and extensive professional learning opportunities.

    How I'll Spend My Summer Vacation

    What am I doing this summer? I'll be at the Logo Foundation experimenting with robots, circuits, and inventions to make STEM classes more exciting; taking coding classes online; and volunteering with Black Girls Code.

    Also, I'll start shooting videos for Scholastic's Top Teaching blog. Come back to my posts in August to see New York City and her most treasured landmarks through picture books. In September, watch out for three-minute videos for simple lessons in coding that can be incorporated into any subject.

    Many countries pay for extensive learning opportunities. Check out Stanford University's brief, "How High-Achieving Countries Develop Great Teachers" to read all about it!

    Are you digging deep into the Common Core State Standards, taking a trip to Brazil to study the rainforest, or working at another job to supplement your income? What are you doing and how do you silence summer break naysayers?



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Susan Cheyney