“Down Time”

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Knowing how social most middle schoolers are, I understand the importance of providing time for socialization during the school day; students will, after all, create it for themselves if we don’t provide it, right?  The school at which I teach provides about a 17 minute recess per grade level.  As long as it’s not “too cold”, students are outside (with the exception of a handful who prefer to work in the library instead).  On those really cold days (much of winter, since we’re in Northern Maine), students go to the gym instead.

Many of our students appreciate this time to play, but many are just standing around (or sitting when in the gym) talking.  If the intention is to offer time for students to move and stimulate their brains, we’re lacking in meeting that goal.

As I supervise eighth graders on the playground, I wonder if there’s a better way to handle this time.  I’m not necessarily talking about the need to add 17 minutes of academia, but rather, hoping there’s an opportunity for students to gain more out of this down time.  So, I’m curious what readers are doing.  Is recess held in your schools?  If so, how is it managed?  Are there different types of recess for different grade levels?

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