Block vs. "regular" scedules...

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by GTB4GT, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    Feb 9, 2013

    our school is looking into going from 7 periods a day to what is called modified block scheduled for next year.

    Several teachers have said they will quit or retire. their rationale? - they currently teach 6 classes per day with an average of say 48- 50 minutes per class. On the proposed schedule they would have 7 classes (over a 2 day period) with 90 minutes per class. I looked at the numbers - basically, a teacher will have 30 minutes more of class time per 2 day period (at the expense of planning time). Plus the additional admin duties (grading, planning, etc.) of one more class.

    What I would like to know from you more experienced teachers who have taught under different schedules - are there any pros to the schedule (from a teacher's perspective)? I would like to have some "ammo" in the teacher lounge discussions. The teachers who are upset are valuable teachers imo and not the type who generally gripe and complain.
     
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  3. Mr D

    Mr D Comrade

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    Feb 9, 2013

    We had that type of schedule when I was in high school, but the teachers taught three 90 minute classes each day (out of 4 class periods). So they had 90 minutes of planning time every day. Could that idea be proposed?
     
  4. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    I taught block which was like Mr D described- teach 3 blocks get one block planning. I thought it was fine. As a science teacher if my class is any less than 90 minutes I feel like I don't have enough time to get anything done! Certainly can't get a full lab done in just 45 minutes.

    But, we worked by semester. So I taught 3 classes first semester, then 3 different classes second semester. I think it gets too confusing doing those A day/B day schedules. Kids should have 4 classes first semester, 4 classes second semester.
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I've taught on both schedules. The block schedule I taught on was a rotating A/B block, where periods 1, 3, 5, and 7 met on one day, and periods 2, 4, 6 and 8 met the next day.

    Advantages to the block schedule:
    Longer block of planning time--90 minutes all at once
    Longer class periods to do special projects
    Seeing certain students less frequently, maybe just two or three times per week

    Disadvantages to the block schedule:
    90 minutes is a really long time for anyone, especially students, to stay focused. Requires extensive and over planning, lots of small lessons and short activities
    See students less frequently. It's hard to test students when you've only seen them twice since you introduced a topic, even though you may have gotten in three or 4 hours of instruction.
    Students don't always retain the material as well without that repetitive, daily contact with it


    I prefer teaching on a traditional schedule. It might be partly based on the subject I teach (foreign language), which I feel is better learned with shorter, more frequent exposures. I do miss the long planning periods, though.
     
  6. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Feb 9, 2013

    This I like. I remember when I was in high school, our school changed after my freshman year, so I got to experience both. We went from 6 class periods in a day that lasted all year to 4 periods in a day that lasted a semester. Teacher ended up having 3 classes and 1 prep. Students could get 8 classes a year instead of the 6 and you had less to deal with at one time, much nicer.
     
  7. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    Feb 9, 2013

    Block scheduling is the absolute WORST!

    We're on a block schedule and with a such high rate of absence and tardiness among our students, they fall behind a lot further than they would on a traditional schedule. (If you figure roughly 43 minutes for a period and 86 minutes on a block schedule, they are missing TWO days for every one they miss.) They wind up feeling that they are so far behind, see a mountain of make-up work in front of themselves, that they figure, "What's the point?"

    So, they wind up taking a "make-up" class after school with a fraudulent "credit recovery" program, where they take a class for about an hour a day, three days a week, for six weeks - mostly playing games on the computer the entire time. Same credit for much less work.

    If they fail in the spring, they have the opportunity during summer school to take two classes, an hour a day, for six weeks and they get credit for a class they failed that runs 20 weeks/86 minutes a day during the regular school year.

    Also, after all these studies that talk about kids having a "15-minute (or less) attention span," they want you to hold them for 86 minutes? Seriously?? I don't care how often you change activities during that class, they want to MOVE, see other students and hear a different voice.

    Finally, when our school went over to a block schedule, they first baited the staff with the idea of an 86-minute prep period. ("Wouldn't you like an 86-minute prep period?" they asked.) When our schedules came out the following fall, we had a 43-minute prep paired with either a duty or a Small Learning Community meeting during the block. Someone spoke up and asked about the full block prep to which one of our administrators replied, "That's ridiculous! Why would you think that you would get that???"

    There's too many downsides to block scheduling in my opinion.


    :down:
     
  8. JustMe

    JustMe Guru

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    We had four classes for the first semester and four the second...I LOVED this as a student. Only three core classes and an elective to deal with at a time was wonderful for everyone, but especially those with heavy after school schedules ans jobs. Sure, the content was condensed, but it was less "mental junk" being only four subjects. As a student, I'd want it no other way. Of course, this is similar to college as well. My sibling was a bit ahead of me in high school and thankfully they stopped the every other day mess of a schedule before I got there.
     
  9. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Fanatic

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    We went to a block schedule, and we do teach one more class now, but we also get extra planning time now, though, so it balances out. We teach 3 blocks each day, then get 90 minutes of planning time.
     
  10. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    Feb 9, 2013

    I'm not experienced, but during my student teaching we had block schedule, and I would absolutely love to have that!
    We had 4 77 minute classes,1 30 minute advisory, and one prep (77 minutes). We did see the kids every day though. I think I would be just as okay with 90 minutes classes, even if I didn't see the kids every day.

    The positives for me:
    - you have longer time for the lesson. For English, for example, you can do a lot of things (grammar, vocab. development, teach concept) AND read a story, or a large junk of it, discuss, etc. In 50 minutes, you barely get to it.
    I remember math teachers said they could use the extra time for assessment, reteaching, etc. And yes, you can do a lot more projects.
    - I think the day seems calmer with having fewer periods.
    - in our case, we only had 4 periods (the advisory were the same kids), so we only had to get to know 4 classes, not 6.
    - the planning period is obviously longer.

    The cons are obviously that you're with kids for a longer time, and they are required to sit and focus. I would definitely vary the activities (even more than with regular classes), get them to get up, move around, do group work where they can actually talk to each other and work at the same time.

    I wouldn't mind not seeing the kids every day. I would give them a lot more homework though. Growing up we didn't see every teacher every day. Math, literature and grammar was every day, but science, history, 2nd language was 3 times / week, and music, art, etc. I think was twice / week. I'm sure scheduling was hard, but that wasn't even the teachers' job. We definitely had enough time to study, do homework, and let the information sink in, if we had a class Monday / Wednesday / Friday. We had to do a lot of our own reading for the classes. We actually had 45 minute classes, 8 / day, so that's the opposite of the block schedule, but the not seeing kids every day was actually beneficial.
     
  11. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    Last year I was given the "weakest" students for one particular math subject. I had them for 2 periods rather than one. What I found was - they managed to stay on task (relatively speaking) well during the first period. In the second period, they would start to burn out. I really didn't get the full use of their time in second period as they would shut down after about 75 minutes or so of work. I did vary my lessons to mix it up. I am afraid that the weaker students will suffer - they do not do any work outside of the classroom. So instead of getting 5 47 minute periods with them, I will get 3 periods of about 75 minutes. Loss of effective teaching time (not clock time) plus a day between for them to "forget" their math.

    The higher end students I teach for senior level courses will probably do well. We can do more group work and I can count on them to do their homework on the off days.

    So, I have mixed feelings - better for advanced students, worse for the weaker students who actually need the help (there's more of them in our school). I wouldn't mind teaching 6 classes (3 per day) but have been told it will be 4 one day/3 the next.From a workload standpoint I can see it increasing but I imagine our compensation will be adjusted accordingly.;)
     
  12. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Feb 9, 2013

    When I went to high school we originally had the tradition schedule, 7 class days. Then we went to a half block/half traditional schedule where 4 classes were 90 min and were A/B days, and another 3 were 50 min. That was weird.

    As a student I much prefer 50 min classes. It's hard for me to keep focused for longer than 30 min. As a teacher I like 90 min classes. I feel like I can get so much more done, and since I know 90 min is a long time I plan lots of stuff, change activities frequently, move around, etc. I never spend longer than 20 minutes on one activity.
     
  13. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    This is how the high schools in my district are scheduled.
     
  14. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Feb 10, 2013

    I have taught on both. We started with a rotating A/B block schedule with roughly 90 minute periods. We then transitioned to a traditional schedule with 45 minute periods.

    For my content area (history) I felt that the traditional schedule was MUCH better. The kids simply didn't have the attention span for the block period, and I found myself covering far less content. Some classes would only meet twice a week, so I would get 180 minutes with those kids. Under the traditional, I get 225 minutes with ALL kids. And better still, that time is spread out over the week so their attention is better, and the content is repeated, thus helping with retention.

    I am a HUGE fan of the traditional schedule, and would never like to go back to the block. Granted, the 90 minute prep period was nice, but the traditional schedule is better for the kids.
     
  15. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Aficionado

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    Feb 10, 2013

    I love block scheduling. I like the semester system and I like only having three classes each day.

    When we first went to block schedules I hated the idea. But I wasn't a teacher then ;)
     
  16. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    You get more time each period with the students. I feel like we just get going now and then it's time to leave.
    With some schedules, the kids have fewer classes so they keep up better and do better. That makes our lives easier.
    I was able to do more projects.
     
  17. HeatherY

    HeatherY Habitué

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    Feb 10, 2013

    The school I work at (sub) has block scheduling. They call it A day and B day. On A day they have four classes and on B day the fourth class is a homeroom/study time. The teachers have one prep every day. This schedule works really well. During the homeroom period, the students are to silent read or silent work for the first 30 minutes, then they can go to other classrooms to get help from teachers on their assignments. Very few students have to do homework at home and have great access to help with this schedule. It can feel very long, but I think once you get used to it, it is actually really nice because you have lots more time for a really good lesson. Also, the homeroom class is useful to do activities like pep rallies, school photos, assemblies, etc... without losing instructional time.
     
  18. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    As for the argument about amount of instructional time on the block schedule versus the traditional schedule:

    Let's say that your school year is 180 days.

    Rotating A/B block:
    90 minute periods
    Meet every other day, so 90 days
    90 minutes x 90 days = 8100 minutes = 135 hours

    Traditional schedule:
    50 minute periods
    Meet every day, so 180 days
    50 minutes x 180 days = 9000 minutes = 150 hours


    If my math is correct, students will get more instructional time on a traditional schedule.
     
  19. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    For us, our periods are only 43 minutes so we would gain a few hours if we switched to a block schedule. However, even if we didn't, I find that the block schedule wastes less time. You don't spend as much time settling down, getting started, doing housekeeping tasks, etc...

    Our school does a mix of block and regular. For example, CP English 12 is an all year course, 43 minutes per day. However, Algebra II is a semester course, 89 minutes per day. I know our science teachers would love to have block scheduling so they could do longer labs.
     
  20. TeacherAnon

    TeacherAnon Rookie

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    Feb 10, 2013

    As a protech teacher block schedules are THE BEST thing that we get. Frankly it adds up to 20 minutes to class because the 10 minute set up and 10 minute breakdown only happen once every 92 minutes instead of once every 50.

    Love it. Wouldn't change it for money.
     
  21. tchr4evr

    tchr4evr Companion

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    Feb 11, 2013

    I like block

    We have block here. I like it. If you have a class that you absolutley can't stand, you know you only have to deal with them every other day. I get much more covered in 90 minutes. I teach 3 classes a day, and get a prep every other day, and a duty every other day. My duty is a study hall- so it's an extra planning for me.

    I've also taught 4X4. As an arts teacher, it was terrible. Electives were staggered, so sometimes, it was difficult for kids to enroll in classes. Also, I spent more money on supplies--I had to buy them twice a year instead of once. Field trips suck too, one group gets to go, but if it's not available the second or first semester, they can't. I also feel I don't get to know my students as well--I finally get really comfortable with them, and they're gone.

    I've also taught traditional, which I didn't mind, the periods were too short though.

    College is every other day, 2 to 3 hour classes, so I think block is more realistic for what they need to be prepared for.
     

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