4 X 4 SCHEDULE. Does it work??

Discussion in 'High School' started by jbj913, Feb 24, 2008.

  1. jbj913

    jbj913 Rookie

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    Feb 24, 2008

    My school is debating a 4 x 4 schedule. The region is really enforcing the idea, but recent meetings show the region is basing it on pure speculation and present it as some pet project. There are no guarantees in writing and speculation abounds.
    One or two high schools have adopted it, but none I know of have reached the 4th year mark since I want to see results on seniors.

    Here is one huge problem:

    Florida requires 24 credits to graduate high school. If Miami-Dade adopts a 4x4 a student will end up with 32 credits and thus what incentive does the student have in even showing up to a class during their senior year with the exception to required courses such as English IV and Govt/Econ?

    How does 4X4 work where you are? And does it work for everyone involved (students, teachers)? Pros and cons please.
     
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  3. Enigma_X

    Enigma_X Rookie

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    Feb 24, 2008

    This is my school's first year on a 4x4 schedule, so I'm not sure yet whether or not it works.
     
  4. bluelightstar

    bluelightstar Companion

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    Feb 24, 2008

    Is the 4x4 schedule one where they take four classes everyday for one semester and four different classes during the next semester? Or is it the schedule where they take 8 classes each semester but meet every other day?

    We're on the latter, but I'll wait for your response before I go into a diatribe on the scheduling.
     
  5. jbj913

    jbj913 Rookie

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    Feb 24, 2008

    The second choice. It is the schedule where it's 4 periods alternating every other day.
     
  6. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Feb 24, 2008

    my district has been on 4x4 for about 8 years. I teach in a vocational school, so we require students to complete their career certificate, in addition to math and English, so that's how we keep kids showing up during their senior year. I am not sure if this is true everywhere, but in my state, individual school shave the ability to make stricter graduation requirements than what the state mandates, so that might be an option for you.

    I like the block. Its great for teachers - I like the 90 minutes to spend with the kids, and I like only have about 70 students at a time. I think the students feel the same way - 4 classes to handle instead of 7-8 is more manageable.

    We pack the kids with math in the beginning of high school - 2 classes their 9th and 10th grade year - so then if they choose not to take more math, retention isn't as much of an issue. Foreign language is actually offered for 1/2 block all year, instead of a full block half the year. This also helps with retention.
     
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 24, 2008

    We're on a 4x4 alternating, and it works okay.

    If they would ever do their homework, I bet students would really appreciate having at least two days to always get the work done. The operative word here is "if"...

    I teach a foreign language, and I would definitely prefer to see my students every single day. It's more difficult to reinforce certain topics when I might only see the kids twice a week...sometimes less often if it's a shortened week or we have a weird schedule that week (due to assemblies, etc.).

    The fact that a class only meets 10 times over the course of a month is a huge issue for students who are absent more than once. For example, students who are absent for 2 class periods miss out on 4 regular class days' worth of material, homework, practice, explanation, feedback, etc. It's very, very difficult for some (many) of them to get caught back up. And keep in mind that students are absent for a variety of reasons--not just because they are sick or ditching. Many students at my school are participating in legitimate (or less than legitimate) school activities during the school day, which means that they're still absent from my class and still missing out on key information. The truth is that if all my students had 95% attendance rates, they would probably all be passing my class...instead of the 30% failure rates I actually have now.

    The one good thing about this sort of schedule is that you can get a lot done in a single class period if you manage class time well.
     
  8. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Feb 24, 2008

    oops, sorry, i guess my post doesn't matter now. But just to clarify, the term "4x4 block" is used to refer a schedule where students go to 4 classes for one semester, and then 4 other classes in another semester. If you are talking about a schedule where students go to 4 classes one day, and then 4 different classes the next day, that is an "alternating block" or "A/B block."
     
  9. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    This is the schedule my son is on (in fact, I think that all of the high schools in our board use this system. The disparity between requirements isn't as huge for us--30 credits (courses) are required for graduation, so, while most students have a couple of spares in their final year, there is still incentive to go. Many students still take a full load, in order to achieve the best marks possible for submission to universities.

    My son is thrilled, this semester, to have been able to drop his first period class, so he gets an extra hour of sleep every morning!
     
  10. bluelightstar

    bluelightstar Companion

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    I'm torn between loving and hating the schedule. In terms of my prep time, I get 532 or 563 minutes of prep per week (depending on whether it's an A week or a B week). That's great, considering on the 7-period schedule it would be reduced to about half that.

    But when it comes to actually teaching, I dislike it. It's not good on those rare instances where something weird happens with the schedule and I see a class on Tuesday and then again on the next Monday (as was the case two weeks ago when we had professional development and parent conferences). Missing a day means missing a lot, and it's hard for students to retain some information. I'd much rather have the students everyday; there is more class time overall when class meets daily.
     
  11. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    I love it, it is great becuase we take away the kids elective blocks if we need to and they are given an extra term of math and/pr English than the required ifd they are scheduleing. (We require three terms for English and Math for Frosh and Sophmores; so they would go to four terms of math instead of three.) If the student chooses to take an AP class they know that they will have the class every single day for 85 minutes, which is more than enough class to cover the required material. I also like it becuase if you teach semester classes like I do you get a new start (for all my non-aps, non 3/4 term math/english classes.). Even for a three term class it is nice to get off one term from your kids its a good break for both of you.
     
  12. FPC DJ

    FPC DJ Rookie

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    Feb 25, 2008

    I absolutely love the 4x4 schedule my school is on. However our superintendent wants everyone on the same schedules now, so she's making us go back to the old way, which didn't work before, so I don't know what she's doing. The teachers and students are trying to fight it, but she's already made up her mind.
     
  13. GovTeacher

    GovTeacher New Member

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    May 2, 2008

    I've been at my current school for 8 years now and we've always had the 4x4 schedule. At first it was really difficult. I was constantly coming up short when it came to trying to structure class time. But now that I've gotten used to it I find myself really rushed on our "short" days (hour long classes).

    A couple of things that are problems.

    1) Obviously the attention span of your students, which is bad enough for an hour, is even worse this way. You've got to change things up and keep them on their toes in your lessons

    2) You'll see an increase in "forgotten" homework. Yes, they have two days to do it now, but two days also means two days to misplace their paper or an extra chance for the dog to snack on it.

    3) For math and foreign language I can see it being much harder as those skills require a lot more "drill" or "practice" to maintain. I think for science, history, english classes it really helps as you can get into indepth labs/discussions without the worry of class time cutting off good ideas.
     
  14. OrangeBlossum

    OrangeBlossum Rookie

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    May 11, 2008

    The 4x4 block is wonderful for social studies classes. Lots of time for different activites and then bringing it all together at the end. Love this schedule. I have only taught on the block though. My current school has an 80 minute block, and I also taught at a school that had a 90 minute block. Either one is fine. Attention spans are not a problem if you switch it up every 20-30 minutes.

    I can see a problem for the block in regards to math. If you have math in the fall of one year, and then not again until the spring of the following year, that would be difficult. Also, some standardized testing occurs before students have math of certain years.
     
  15. trulyblssd

    trulyblssd Companion

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    May 14, 2008

    I dislike it. Eight classes is just too much for the students. They always forget there work, we don't have lockers and they can't focus for that long. It would be hard to go to a traditional with limited time in the classroom, but I would do it. Some of my students have 3 core classes on one day. It's draining for them.

    We used to be on the 4X4 semester system. That was great.
     
  16. Mrs.SLF

    Mrs.SLF Comrade

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    May 27, 2008

    I graduated from a school that used the 4x4 system and it worked out wonderfully. It allowed me to take 8 classes a year and choose electives to fill empty blocks. My school only had one class that went for the entire year and that was my AP US History class. But it works because we had the highest passing rate on the test in our county (something like 98% passed and most with a 4 or a 5). I always thought 4x4 was great but I was just a student at the time.
     
  17. eCubed

    eCubed Companion

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    For many school systems I've heard about, they buy it-both students and teachers. If I were an English, science, history, or vocational teacher, I would love 4x4, too.

    I was a math teacher. I student-taught in a school that ran on 7 50-minute periods and I loved it. Yes, I taugh 5 classes. I taught my 1st year in a school that ran on the 4x4 block schedule. It was a TOTAL nightmare for me. Yes, only 3 preps, but each prep demanded so much more creativity and activities to fill up 1.5 hours. Like WHAT activities could you do in a high school math class besides having them complete worksheets and you lecture/model solving equations? So the total preparation for 3 blocks was far greater than the 5 "reg-50's". Yes, and it was tough keeping freshmen's attention for that long.

    I was later told that 4x4 or A/B is not recommended for the math rookie teacher since he hasn't yet accumulated enough activities to fill all that time. And at bookstores, there are like 20 activities books in English/Reading for every 1 math book that contained mere worksheets. So that really helped me (sarcastically, speaking).

    So, it's awesome for everybody else; it sucks for the math teacher. I know I sound like I'm cursing my past, but I still want to know how to win that "filling up the long period with meaningful activities" battle.
     
  18. jenngugs

    jenngugs Companion

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    May 31, 2008

    I love teaching on the 4x4 block. One semester, I only had two classes with 40 total students, and now I have three classes with 70 total students. I really allows me to have to spend less time grading and more time planning fun and interesting lessons.

    The one problem my school ran into though was surrounding our juniors who have to pass the required state test (HSPA in NJ) in order to pass high school. This test specifically tests on Math and English topics, and it was impossible to schedule every junior to have both math and English the first semester. So some juniors had a full year's worth of math and English going into the test, while others had only 6 weeks and were at a serious disadvantage.
     
  19. dtrim

    dtrim Rookie

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    Jun 12, 2008

    I have taught on both the A/B block, an A/B block with a skinny Friday, and the true 4 x 4 block.

    Out of the three, the 4 x 4 was my favorite.

    For the A/B block (alternating classes every other day), my school first tried it with A days on Mondays and Wednesdays, B days on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a skinny day with all seven classes on Fridays. What a complete nightmare. After a year, my school dropped it and went to the A/B.

    Foreign language, math, and band teachers love the A/B, but I don't like the way kids shifted gears every day. It is a good scheme for dealing with absences because if a kid misses a week, she misses three days of one class, tops, instead of five days. However, missing two block classes is like missing almost a week of class on the regular, 7- or 8-period day. It's still tough.

    My favorite, hands down, is the 4 x 4. You, the students, the parents, concentrate on just four subjects for an entire semester. It's easier for kids to accomplish homework for fewer classes, and it's easier to teach and grade for fewer kids. On our schedule, we had the second block as an alternating A/B block. So, typically kids would have a band/phy. ed alternating block, or a chorus/phy. ed alternating block. Kids not in music could take a regular, non-alternating block class during that time, too.

    After a year we added a homeroom time between second block and lunch. With no study halls, there wasn't any breathing room in the schedule for things like guidance, remediation, and music lessons.

    I really loved the 4 x 4 and wouldn't want to teach any other way.

    Diane
     

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