The Expanded Learning Time (ELT)
Planning and Implementation Process
Expanding the school day will not mean simply tacking on extra hours to the day to do more of what is already done. ELT is about redesigning the school day and/or year so we can better prepare our students for life in the 21st century. Our students need to be better prepared in math and literacy, as well as in science and technology, and they need to learn how to solve problems, how to work collaboratively and how to stand up in front of people to communicate effectively. They need time for enrichment activities like music, physical education and the arts that we know help children and improve their learning. Our exploration and planning group is being asked not to just expand the school day, but to redesign it. In other schools, teachers have used the extra time to lengthen class periods so they can engage students in hands-on projects and help them learn in creative ways. Other teachers have used this time to work with the diverse levels of learners in each class. The additional time allows them to accelerate learning for students who are doing well while supporting students who are struggling.
ELT means a redesigned school day that will better prepare our children for a complicated and competitive world:
With more time, the teachers have an opportunity to emphasize deeper knowledge of math, literacy, science and social studies. They can also offer enrichment programs that develop problem-solving abilities and critical thinking skills. The school can integrate the resources of our entire community toward helping students thrive in a complicated and competitive world.
A redesigned school day is about challenging the students who are already doing well and supporting those who are struggling. It will give us the time to offer programs that accelerate some students and help others reach proficiency.
Educational standards for our youth have increased substantially over the last two decades; yet, the school day has not expanded to give students more time which they may need to achieve those higher standards. Our schools are still structured to accommodate the learning requirements of previous generations.
Expanded Learning Time allows schools to provide a more well-rounded education that addresses the whole child through enrichment in arts, music, drama, physical education and more.
High stakes testing and accountability with no additional time has led to a narrowing of the school day to focus primarily on instruction in tested subjects – math, science and English/Language Arts. Time for important enrichment activities has been reduced. Schools need to be about more than simply preparing kids for success on standardized tests.
Schools are about creating solid, well rounded young people who will become productive workers and engaged citizens who can serve and build their communities. With more time, we can create a day that integrates their social, emotional, physical, and intellectual needs.
Expanded Learning Time allows schools to offer a wide range of enrichment programs like art, music, and technology that engage students in ways that traditional academics don’t. In the ELT schools, students now have choices to learn about robotics and forensics, put on plays and try their hand at video production and computer animation. They have time for apprenticeships with local businesses and to learn instrumental music.