block scheduling concerns

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by chemistrynerd, Sep 7, 2013.

  1. chemistrynerd

    chemistrynerd Rookie

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    Sep 7, 2013

    My school has 4 90 minute block classes each day, where we teach 3 classes. We see the same students every other day. I'm having trouble finding enough content to cover 90 minutes, and I'm finding that the students forget things easily, since I don't see them everyday. As a science teacher, it's hard to learn science if you aren't actively engaged in it each day. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to
    1) break up the 90 minute classes
    2) motivate my students- most of them don't want to take science/chemistry, and have made up their mind that this class is dumb and that they are in it to graduate
    3) good ways to help them retain information better
    4) good closure activities
     
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  3. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Sep 7, 2013

    Do you have labs included in the 90 minutes?
     
  4. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Sep 7, 2013

    I teach social studies, but we were on a rotating block schedule like the one you describe, for several years ago. We have since switched away from it because it seemed the kids were being disengaged with long classes, and less content was being taught. For some classes that ended up meeting only twice a week (this was quite often with Tues/Thurs schedules), those kids got 180 minutes of class (2 sessions, 90 minutes). Now the kids get each class daily for 45 minutes, giving 225 total minutes. Thus our kids are now getting more time in the classroom, but spaced out over more days. Personally, I think that works out better for teenagers... but that's simply my opinion.

    As for class itself, my block classes typically had 3-4 activities per day:
    1: Daily warm-up, reviwing from previous day (10 Minutes)
    2: New Material - Lecture/Discussion/PowerPoint (30 Minutes)
    3: Assignment/Activity/Reading - (30-40 Minutes)
    4: Wrap up - Summary of day, address questions, assign HW (10 Minutes)
     
  5. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Sep 7, 2013

    I love blocks! I'm also a science teacher and find it impossible to cover everything I want to within only 50 minutes. Blocks are much better for labs, there's no way to do a lab in 50 minutes for sure.

    Anyways, I break up basically the way Ron mentioned. We do warm-up (always a 5 question "quiz" on info from the last class), new material (usually reading a few paragraphs from the book out loud, then guided notes from a powerpoint on the same information), activity, then ending (usually new vocab).

    My goal for each day is for the kids to go over the same set of information 4 or 5 different ways. First we read the info, then we write down the info, then we answer questions about the info, then we do a picture about the info, then we do the vocab from the info.

    As for them forgetting, it'll happen. I only see my classes twice a week and yeah, they forget stuff. But when I manage to do my go over the info 5xs a class method, it usually sticks pretty well :)
     
  6. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Sep 7, 2013

    I teach social studies on a block schedule and have had the exact opposite experience as Ron! I can't begin to imagine how I would cover everything I need to cover in 45 minutes, Plus, to be perfectly honest, I enjoy that I only see certain students every other day. Every once in a while, you get one that you just need a breather from. :p

    My schedule is similar to the one he posted, I have a quiz every day, warm up, direct instruction, activity, then wrap up.

    Have you tried chunking up your day? If I know I have a notes-heavy day, then I'll stop about halfway through, do an activity that requires moving and talking and then come back for the rest of the notes.

    With the "what's the point?" inertia, can you find some really cool little 2-3 minutes on the amazing things in science? I just watched one on YouTube about how our eyes trick us when it comes to differentiating colors and it blew my mind! If you're having trouble with dead time, maybe you could show something crazy about science and then have a class discussion about it.
     
  7. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Sep 7, 2013

    We have 95 minute periods every day for semester courses and it is soooooo draining because that is such a long time for the child to remain engaged. I hate it and I am struggling to find a way to get through it without Powerpointing them to death each day.
     
  8. Ms.SLS

    Ms.SLS Cohort

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    Sep 8, 2013

    For block days, I always try to break it up. Some reading, some talking, some moving, some direct instruction, some practice. I try to never be doing the same thing for more than 20-30 minutes or I loose the kids.

    Sometimes it's successful and the kids are surprised at how fast the class went. Sometimes it's not.
     
  9. GGarcia

    GGarcia Rookie

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    Jan 3, 2014

    I'm really struggling with this. Class periods are over 100 minutes and I find it hard to fill the time. Some teachers teach 2 different concepts/lessons, but I find it is too much info for the students. What kind of fillers, games,activities do you use? I feel like showing a youtube clip every class period is getting old. Thanks.
     
  10. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Jan 3, 2014

    I'm on block scheduling and love it. But we see kids every day. Every other day would make things more difficult.

    I will share that chemistry is hard to teach. I've taught a variety of classes and by far it was hardest to convince students that chemistry was relevant and that they have to work HARD in order to be successful. Many students do well for years in science and get to chemistry and hit a road block. They aren't used to having to do homework nightly and really applying knowledge. They become convinced that it is the teacher's fault. Students that do better in geometry than algebra do not seem to do nearly as well but since they aced biology they think that they're great in science. It is hard to keep them from giving up.

    I woulid approach the math teachers in your school and see how they break down their periods. For a good portion of your course you could follow a similar plan.

    For me I would start out the day with a bellringer of some sort - practice problem on the board, going over homework with a friend, etc. Then we would do some type of homework review as a class. They would take written notes on a new topic, I'd model if applicable, we'd do a couple of problems together and then students would have independent practice at their seats. I'd check around the room as they worked, answer questions and such. Quickly give answers and assign homework.

    Some days would be test days and some would be lab days. Some days would lend themselves to a video clip or a demo. Or a quiz or review activity.
     
  11. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jan 5, 2014

    When i was going to school ( in Europe) classes other than math and language arts were scheduled evey other day, for 45 minutes, and it worked. We had a lot of reading to do as homework and follow up activities. I think it was great because we had time to absorb the information.
    I would allow enough time for review at the beginning of the class, and include a lot of follow up activities, and lab if possible, which should be within 90 minutes. I would rely on homework to make sure kids retain the info. They would have 2 nights to do it so i wouldn't feel bad. I'd probably "motivate" the kids with a quiz in each class to stay n top of things, but that's just me.
     
  12. mr_post22

    mr_post22 Companion

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    Jan 31, 2014

    I did a 50 minute lecture and spent the remaining time doing individual work (20 minutes) than I reviewed it (15 minutes) and the last 5 was time to pack up and prepare for the next class
     
  13. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Jan 31, 2014

    I have 120 minute blocks two days a week: I see each of my classes for 60 minutes M/T/F, and W/Th are 2-hour blocks. I break the time up into a traditional lesson for the first hour and then projects, computer lab, etc for the second hour. Those are LONG classes with my "challenging" sections, however!

    My school is considering going to a different schedule for next year with slightly shorter blocks and I am hoping it happens since I really think 2 hours is too much time.
     
  14. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    Jan 31, 2014

    I teach english and it's block every other day. I can deal with the block but I HATE every other day. All year I have been the lone voice begging you principal to switch to every day. We used to teach block every day for a quarter instead of every other day for a full semester. We covered SO much more back then! I hate every other day. HATE it. And the students get so confused. They have eight freakin classes to keep straight and to do all the work for. UGH!
     
  15. Rhesus

    Rhesus Comrade

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    Feb 9, 2014

    I like having 80 minute classes because there is less rush and more time for discussion.

    However, classes meet every other day. This means, on average, fewer than ten times a month. That is not enough contact time for a foreign language class like I teach.
     
  16. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Feb 9, 2014

    Our class are 48 minutes :( I wouldn't mind 60 minutes, or even 90. It would work well with my great classes, and with my little challenging class, because after they settle down they do great work. But now I have 35 minutes of great work with that class.

    The only thing I wouldn't like about not seeing my classes every day, is that it would make vocabulary development a little more tricky. We spend time on vocab every day, but if I don't see them, who knows if they focus on it?
    I think the ideal situation would be twice a week longer blocks (90-120 minutes) and the other days 50-60. The longer blocks could be used for reading and writing, so the students could actually read a chapter in a book or actually write a rough draft and edit / revise it, and switch with 2-3 students. I'd love that.
     
  17. LisaLisa

    LisaLisa Companion

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    Feb 9, 2014

    I've taught with block scheduling and went this route. It's something to consider.
     
  18. RadiantBerg

    RadiantBerg Cohort

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    Feb 9, 2014

    You are in the only department that I think block scheduling is best for because of labs. Make it work.
     

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