How do you structure long block classes?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Ms.Holyoke, Jan 31, 2018.

  1. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Cohort

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    Jan 31, 2018

    My math classes are 75 minutes long. Right now, our routine is the Do Now, a whole class lesson, classwork, and an exit ticket. This is the routine that I will likely be following throughout my student teaching. One thing that I am finding difficult is figuring out how to structure the practice. Because we have about 40 minutes for classwork, kids can usually get through about 2 activities. My mentor uses a system where we check kids off when they finish a worksheet and they get another worksheet. The issue is that some kids don't raise their hands when they are ready to be moved on so they are sitting in their seat wasting a lot of time when a teacher doesn't notice. The other issue is that kids do not get the second worksheet when they need it because we are busy with other students. In my future classroom, I might want to have the whole class work on an activity or worksheet, have a quick discussion as a class, and do something else. But I want to stick with the routine in our classroom this semester. Is there a different way to structure this chunk of time that would require less direction from the teacher?
     
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  3. JimG

    JimG Companion

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    Do you have block classes every day of the week?
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
  4. JimG

    JimG Companion

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    In any event, I don’t like leaving students to their own devices for too long. If the two worksheets are over different content, then teach a lesson over the first content, give some class time to work on that assignment, teach a lesson over the second content, then give some class time for that assignment. Anything they don’t finish is their homework.

    If the two worksheets are practicing the same skill, I can’t blame the students for getting bored, bogged down, or antsy. If the one skill requires that much practice, I would do a class activity and then an assignment rather than two repetitive assignments.

    You are already doing Exit tickets to measure their understanding, so you could move away from worksheets and do multiple in-class activities for practice.

    I am not suggesting any of those ideas as absolute, 100% of the time scenarios, as I have intermixed versions of each on my block days. There have also been times where I have given students a giant chunk of time for independent work, and problems similar to what you addressed came up. Honestly, sometimes the assignment really does take 40 minutes or more and I am an advocate of giving students class time to get their work done, so in those scenarios I just make due and have to provide more redirection.
     
  5. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Cohort

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    ^
    I want to plan more activities but I'm not sure how to do so with math. The worksheets are not just repetitive but we create them to address critical thinking skills and more. I would love to do something more creative but I am following my mentor's lead right now.
     
  6. JimG

    JimG Companion

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    Look into Kagan Cooperative Learning and also Heather Hart for some ideas on activities.
     
  7. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Habitué

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    No wonder you have had some behavioral problems!!! This is explains everything---75 minutes is far too long for students who struggle with math. TOO MUCH MATH!!!! Especially for students who don't enjoy it! The only time I ever dealt with behavioral issues was when I had a double period (80 min) algebra 1 during my student teaching. Our normal 40 minute classes don't leave time for poor behavior. This was actually something I looked for when applying to jobs. My district is now thinking about advancing to 50-55 minute periods, and most of the other teachers seem excited about it, but I far prefer the brisk 40 minute classes with no down time.

    I would definitely vary that practice method. Rather than always a worksheet, do stations, do Kahoot, do games, do mini-projects, work on the computers (if it's available), etc. Especially with your population, lots of independent work is not going to generally be the most effective solution.
     
  8. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    This would be my plan, but I agree it's better to stick with what your mentor teacher is doing for now.

    Do you have to give them the two pages separately? Can you not hand out both pages at the same time, and then tell them which one to start first?
     
  9. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Cohort

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    I think she likes to check their work before they move on. The issue is that kids work at veryy different paces so I'm not sure how splitting up the time would work.
     
  10. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Could you do a check at the start, maybe with an online quiz program that gives immediate feedback (there are a lot, I'm sure you could get many recommendations on here), and then differentiate based on who knows and does not know the content?

    You could give a few quick questions to check in with them at the start of class.

    Everyone who gets the questions right does page XX.
    Everyone who gets the questions wrong does page ZZ.

    If you're already printing two worksheets, this could be a similar amount of work for you but would let you differentiate a bit more. It could also help with the problem of them working at different paces, because if they're all appropriately challenged it should take them more similar amounts of time (in theory).

    Sometimes this works easily and sometimes it's a lot more work, so it would depend on your group and curriculum.
     
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  11. Ms.Holyoke

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    So, next week my plan for my teaching days is the following:

    Monday:
    Do Now (10 minutes)
    Whiteboard Review Activity (15-20 minutes)
    Comparing Rates Problem in groups and short discussion to follow (30 minutes)
    Extension if the class gets to it
    Exit Ticket (10 minutes)

    Wednesday:
    Do Now (10 minutes)
    Connecting Representations Lesson (10 minutes)
    Connecting Representations Problem (individual/partner), discuss it as a class (10 minutes)
    Poster Activity in Partners with analysis questions (30 minutes), students can work on an extension if they finish early
    Exit Ticket (10 minutes)

    Does this sound like a good way to break up the time? I'm trying to move away from just a worksheet for practice and divide up the time so they aren't doing a worksheet for just 45 minutes. I am also thinking about having directions on a PowerPoint so students can raise their hands if they are finished and ready for an extension.
     
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  12. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    I think your plan looks good. I would review behavior expectations before you start the group activities. Your plan is different from their normal routine, so they may want to test boundaries.
     
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  13. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Cohort

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    Will do! It is pretty similar to what we usually do but the activity is not just a worksheet so I will be clear about academic and behavioral expectations for the poster. My mentor likes the practice activity that I came up with. I will make a PowerPoint slide with directions for the students.
     
  14. Teacher234

    Teacher234 Comrade

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    Feb 4, 2018

    @Ms.Holyoke
    If you are going to have your students do independent work for a longer period of time, allow them to work wherever they chose and play music.
     
  15. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Cohort

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    ^
    They are already allowed to work where they want but music becomes a classroom management issue quickly and students focus more on the music than their work.
     
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  16. Teacher234

    Teacher234 Comrade

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    Excellent point.
    (Listening to music does help my class learn and focus.)
     
  17. ms.irene

    ms.irene Groupie

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    I teach a language in 100-minute blocks. My general class structure is:

    10 mins -- warmup assignment, students come up to the board to write/correct their answers
    10 mins -- review homework, call on students and discuss answers
    20 mins -- lesson input, note-taking, etc
    20 mins -- student practice, usually in pairs practicing speaking
    30 mins -- extension activities -- projects on iPads, music/song lyrics, culture, review games, etc
    10 mins -- go over HW and begin in class
    I try not to let any one activity go over 30 mins, or my mostly freshmen tend to get off track.
     
  18. nstructor

    nstructor Comrade

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    Feb 6, 2018

    What about ELA classes?
     
  19. ms.irene

    ms.irene Groupie

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    I happen to also teach English -- my blocks are similar, with longer chunks given to writing assignments, peer review, projects, etc.
     
  20. nstructor

    nstructor Comrade

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    Feb 7, 2018

    Can you be more specific? Thank you.
     
  21. ms.irene

    ms.irene Groupie

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    See my prior post on this thread -- I use the same format but include longer chunks for longer assignments that go with ELA (essays, projects, etc)
     

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