Fits & Fugues

Education can be so much more.

Recovering Classtime

We’ve all heard it: “I don’t have enough classtime to…” Hobby teaching and veiled blame arguments on standardized testing aside, here are a few thoughts on ways to recover your “classtime” as inspired, in part, by some great conversations Learning 2.0: A Colorado Conversation.

First and foremost, internalize the following:

  • The focus should be on learning, not the dispensation of information.
    • If you are “teaching stuff ” that should be quickly recalled with no real connections, your role has been replaced by Google, Wikipedia, WolframAlpha, and myriad web-based tools.
  • Time is actually the variable in learning.
    • If you didn’t already believe this on some level, you would never assign homework.
  • Your classroom’s walls are permeable (thanks David Jakes).
    • The simple fact is human beings look for connections everywhere and the internet has made this abundantly possible. Your kids are doing it already. It’s time to tap that vast resource.
  • Textbooks do not equal curricula. Curricula is the means by which we facilitate learning.
    • If your principal told you all the textbooks in your school were being recalled and would never be replaced, what would that do to your lesson planning and, as a result your classes? Also, textbooks, in many cases, are a waste of money especially if you only “cover” and/or use 25%-40% of the material in them. at $80-$100 a book, that’s lots of waste. While we are on the topic of “coverage,” stop using that way of thinking. We are not applying coats of paint here. That kind of thinking leads us back to the for
  • Technology is an essential tool for your work and student learning, not the point of learning.
    • We don’t talk about book, paper, or whiteboard-infused/based/integrated lessons. Stop talking about technology-infused/based/integrated lessons. Seriously. Stop…Stop saying that you did a PowerPoint lesson. You don’t say you did a whiteboard/chalkboard lesson.
  • You don’t (and can’t) know it all. You are a learner in all this.
    • We expect that our kids will be life-long learners we should be too. While you may be an “expert” in your area, you can’t know it all. -Sorry to bruise your ego.
  • Leverage the power of the connected learning world by building a personal/professional learning network and find those people who are doing what you do and can make you better.
    • Since each of us can’t know it all, it makes sense to connect with others who have something to contribute.

Now, with that said, just because time is the variable for your classroom does not mean that you have to be on duty all the time. In fact, many of these suggestions are ways for you to clone parts of yourself so you can be in multiple places at multiple times. We’ve long dreamed (even in jest) of that technology, but it is here. It has been in multiple forms for some time now.


  • Stop going over your class policies and procedures, rules and regulations, etc. and put them on the web. It doesn’t matter the tool you use (email, Google Docs, a wiki, EtherPad, a blog, -whatever). Make an agreement with your kids that you won’t read the policies if they’ll read them themselves. You can invent whatever way to document and record that they and their parents have read it. At worst have them email you -give them the format of the email response if you want and have them reply to you.
    • Estimated time recovered: 1-2 class periods.
  • Post your PowerPoints online, especially if you find yourself turning your back to your kids and reading the stupid thing.
    • Use free web applications like SlideShare and Prezi.
    • Estimated time recovered: Any class period you do this.


  • Clone yourself on the Internet and record and post your lectures/content delivery.
    • Assign that as your kids’ “homework” and do the work you’ve always wanted to do with your kids in your classroom. You’ll be able to differentiate and work with kids individually, in small groups, or as a large group as needed.
    • If kids don’t have computer/Internet access, have them download it to their phones, iPods, or put it on a DVD.
      • Here’s some examples from a couple of teachers in Woodland Park, Colorado.
    • Estimated time recovered: Any class period you do this.
  • Outsource yourself to the Internet.

The few, not exhaustive, ideas are just some ways to get you thinking about ways you can recover classtime. I’d wager that if you decide to turn your kids loose with many of these tools, you’ll find the entire nature of your class and the learning you and your students experience will fundamentally change.


March 18, 2010 Posted by | Education, Technology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment