I can't stand block scheduling!

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by AnnNorCal, Oct 31, 2014.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Nov 2, 2014

    Quick question about stations, how do you guys manage behavior when doing stations, when one of the stations requires full teacher instruction?
     
  2. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Nov 2, 2014

    40 is a lot! I have a pretty small room with 28 kids right now. I have clipboards and I bought bathmats at Ikea for $4 for them to sit on the tile floor...but maybe that's too elementary :lol: I would say with more kids it's probably easier to have the materials move. Stick everything for each station in some kind of basket or container. I got scrapbook containers at Michael's on sale for my math stations - they're big and flat, which I like for paper or whiteboards.

    I used practice at the beginning without the teacher station to model what it's supposed to look like. Recently I had to assign partner locations for the partner station because they abused the privilege of picking their own spots and some were playing around. The kids who need it are located closer to me so I can see them in my peripheral. I'm hoping to change this eventually as they earn their privilege back. Also, I would recommend having a related worksheet to work on if they can't handle stations. That way, they're still practicing the skill, but not the "fun" way with everyone else. That consequence seems to work with my 5th graders. Granted, I know 8th graders are a lot tougher, but those are some ideas.

    Another idea for stations, especially with the 110 minute block, is to have NO teacher station, or have the teacher station be very fluid - just pulling kids who need extra help, etc. That way, you can check in on the stations, ask probing questions, etc, while they work. I could see that working well with such a huge block of time, because your direct instruction wouldn't necessarily BE a station.
     
  3. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Nov 2, 2014

    I have a similar consequence for labs. They just lose lab privileges if they are messing around, but during labs I can keep my eyes on everything and it's all student centered, so I can just monitor. Stations probably just wouldn't work that well for us anyway, because we're 50 minute periods. Students wouldn't have enough time at each station to get things done.
     
  4. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I don't have stations that require full attention. I could, but then I couldn't hear what was going on everywhere else.

    I luckily have never had any behavior issues with stations. The kids are so rushed generally that they don't have time to act up. I do have some awesome students, though.
     
  5. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Nov 3, 2014

    I so miss my 90-100 minute periods! This year, I have the same number of students, and half of the planning time, on a seven period day with 52 minute periods. I constantly feel like I am treading water and never catching up. Because I teach each class each day, it's more planning and the same amount of grading, but less time to do it all!

    I loved being able to break up the block into chunks of no longer than 15-20 minutes when needed. Then, when I needed to show a movie for my film studies elective, I could show almost a whole movie in one class period, allowing them to get a better sense of the pacing, tone shifts, etc.

    I am actually considering applying to other local districts that still use block scheduling because I miss it so much. It was better for teachers, better for students, and I just miss it!
     
  6. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Nov 3, 2014

    I know you teach science, so how are your stations structured? Like what do you have at each station? (trying to figure out if I can make it work with my content)
     
  7. teacherguy111

    teacherguy111 Cohort

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    Nov 3, 2014

    We have 75 minutes. I feel like this is pretty long. I do like getting all the way through something and checking it etc in one lesson. But I also do not really like planning for that amount of time. The last 15 minutes or so the kids lose focus.
     
  8. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Nov 3, 2014

    I am teaching an A/B schedule with 100-min periods this year. Last year I was at a school with 120-min blocks on block days and 55 minutes on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. It's amazing how much shorter 100 minutes feels! 120 was just too long. I like block scheduling as it gives the opportunity to really get into something or to break it up with lots of different activities.

    One thing that's happening that's interesting is that of my two French 1 classes, one always gets everything done faster than the other. It's odd since they are actually more chatty so you would think they would fall behind, but really they are able to process faster and move faster than my other group which is smaller and a little quieter, but anxious and always asking a million questions! I always have to have a back-up activity for the last 5 mins for my last class of the day.
     
  9. 2ndTimeAround

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    The last time I did stations I had four different stations that I repeated twice. So I had 8 stations set up, but two of each one. Students spent 15 minutes at each station.

    It was a review day for a test. At one station the students worked on a crossword independently. They were racing to see who would finish first. That keeps them from sharing answers and finishing too quickly ;)

    Another station had the kids playing Pictionary with vocabulary terms.

    The third had a Jeopardy game on a laptop.

    The last had a Memory game (matching vocab with definitions).

    I've done it before with worksheets at one, a quick "experiment" at one, games at one and graphic organizers at another.

    I've also done it with controversial subjects where different stations have different points of view. Students have to assume different roles in the controversy, read one viewpoint at one station, a different viewpoint at another, write their own opinion in response to a prompt, etc.
     
  10. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Nov 7, 2014

    Thanks for replying. How do you keep them engaged in the games? i.e. What keeps them from just talking about their day at the game stations rather than competing? Are there prizes?
     
  11. a teacher

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    We have A/B days as well, with 85 min. classes. It's funny because I was just recently reflecting on this subject. I have also heard many at my school say they like it, but after doing this for a few years now, I miss regular schedules.

    I teach art classes, which you would think would benefit the most because of extra time to do projects, set up materials and clean up. But it's a pain in the neck. Surprisingly I haven't seen much of an issue with attention span, although just today I was pressuring a ninth grade class I have to stay quiet and do the reflection assignment I had for them. They were like mice for about an hour, then began to come undone. I can't complain I suppose.

    The main issue for me is that it's hard to keep track of stuff. Especially when you have kids being absent, turning in late work and asking "what did I miss"? It's aggravated by the fact that I have 4 preps, not counting an extended homeroom! Yes it's nice to not see every kid every day, and there's the added advantage of having more time to plan a lesson. But generally it's too confusing and hard to keep track of.
     
  12. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Nov 8, 2014

    I had to be super organized. I also had to put more responsibility on the students for staying organized.
     
  13. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Nov 8, 2014

    We've been on it for 5 years, and I absolutely hate it. I really liked it at first, but I definitely want to go back to 50 minute periods.

    Missing one day of school puts the kids really far behind. Missing two or three classes in a row? Forget it.

    MS kids can't ever seem to get the hang of it. They constantly bring the wrong bookbag or the wrong folders and don't have what they need for class. Every day, kids come up to me and ask which day it is.

    The last 10 minutes every period are torture. The kids are DONE.

    We also don't having block planning. We have a common planning before the kids get to school, 45 minutes four times a week. It's impossible to get things done b/c everyone is trying to sign in at the same time or make copies or there's a meeting or the office needs something or a parent calls and talks for 30 minutes... or there's always someone who pops in for a "quick" question and eats up a fair portion of time.
     
  14. a teacher

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    Nov 8, 2014

    Those sound like school-wide issues that are deeper than block-scheduling. And while I would say it's definitely going to be harder to pull off at the middle school level, my own child, who has block scheduling at their school, is doing o.k. with it.
     
  15. 2ndTimeAround

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    Nov 8, 2014

    we don't alternate days. We work on a semester system so kids only have four classes at a time to be concerned about.
     
  16. leeshis0019

    leeshis0019 Companion

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    Nov 8, 2014

    Block schedules are amazing in Chemistry.

    I try to keep my classroom "chaotically controlled". By that I mean the students aren't out of control, but they are able to move around freely (as long as the lab is empty), talk, do group-work, etc. They can only do these things if they get through instruction without incident otherwise they are in their seats doing something boring.

    I love it for Chemistry because we can do labs that take 1 hour and still have enough time to do more, to discuss, etc. In a normal 50 minute class we have to do labs that are maybe 20-30 minutes long if we want to discuss or look at group data. It's easier to do on the same day then letting them come back the next day and losing it.

    My school is also half-magnet and the block schedule just works for their class load. I have no magnet students, but I somehow keep mine partially interested throughout the class day. It's funny when the bell rings and they are looking at me like "Woah...did the bell just ring? What just happened?"
     
  17. Mathman82

    Mathman82 Rookie

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    Nov 8, 2014

    We have 105 minute blocks with the same classes/same students all five days a week at my school with a five minute break in between. It's hard to keep everyone on task the whole time, which most do not. I lecture for the first 30 minutes, give math problems. Then after break it's in class homework. Many become less productive the last 30 minutes or so. Some days the second homework hour only a fraction complete work. That is how it is and I've learned to accept that. I go around and always let them know they need to ask questions and get tutoring during the in class homework time. I let them know, you are here for the block, if you do not do work, the block will go so much slower and you will miss out on learning opportunities, and you will score lower on the tests.
     
  18. DCTeacher1

    DCTeacher1 New Member

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    Dec 2, 2014

    I'm with you. I have taught 90 minutes for years, but I'm ready to teach a smaller amount of time. Currently, I teach an A/B schedule and I hate it. Students need content subjects everyday to successful. Long blocks and every other day learning does not work!
     
  19. bartleby

    bartleby Rookie

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    Dec 29, 2014

    I once talked to a math teacher that liked to do the lesson, then do practice problems/activity/etc, and then at the end of the class do a short preview of the next lesson, no notes or responsibility to REALLY learn the new material, but even though the kids were losing focus, the preview helped the students pick up the lesson quicker when the "formal" lesson was taught the next class.

    Just food for thought.
     

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