Block scheduling

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Caesar753, Jun 26, 2007.

  1. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jun 26, 2007

    How many of you teach on a block? How do you organize and plot out your units?

    I'd love to do a weekly-type plan where on Mondays we do this and on Tuesdays we do this, and so forth, but that won't work on our block schedule. Our classes are about an hour and a half and they meet either two times or three times per week. Last year I tried plotting out a 5-day thing, but that just didn't work for whatever reason. 5 regular 45-min periods is not the same as 2 and a half blocks, you know?

    I struggle with needing to cover lots of material in a short amount of time (don't we all?). I'm sort of on a three-block plan right now for each lesson. Each lesson is made up of 7 or so new vocab words, a two- or three-paragraph passage to translate into English, a new grammar topic or two, and some cultural info.

    I don't assign a lot of homework other than memorization of new vocab and case/verb endings. Obviously anything that they don't finish in class, along with the translation, is done outside of class.

    I feel like about 3 blocks is plenty of class time--it's nearly 5 hours--but several of my students complained about moving too fast. I don't feel like I'm rushing them at all. And furthermore, I feel like most of them would just waste any extra time I did give them.

    What do you all think? Any ideas on how to come up with a better plan where I can manage to get everything done and not make my students feel rushed?
     
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  3. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jun 26, 2007

    Here is what we do on 4, 85 minute blocks:

    *All AP classes meet everyday all 4 terms.
    *All SPED Math classes are four terms regardless of what grade, everyday.
    *Honors and CP History and Science classes meet for two terms, everyday.
    *9th and 10th grade math classes meet for three terms, everyday.
    *9th and 10th grade English Classes meet three terms with the fourth term being an English-based elective.
    *Electives can be one or two term classes that meet everyday.
    *After 10th grade, all classes except AP, are only for two terms.
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jun 26, 2007


    So even though you're on a block schedule, your kids have the same classes every day?

    On our block, we only meet every other day. It's a nightmare for foreign language!
     
  5. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Jun 26, 2007

    Our blocks met every day. I had my English students for 100 minute blocks every day. It was WONDERFUL. We got so much done! In our state we don't test every subject every year, so the classes that had assessment were blocked. Other classes met on 50 minute classes every day.

    The high school uses 90 minute blocks. Their classes also meet every day, but some only meet for one semester. Special education, algebra, and English meet for an entire year.
     
  6. ChangeAgent

    ChangeAgent Comrade

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    Jun 27, 2007

    I student taught (and will now be teaching) with block schedules. In both of my student teaching placements, classes were about 90 minutes, every other day.

    If it helps, divide the class period into sections: grammar, reading, vocabulary, culture. If it's easier for planning, think of them as perhaps, two 45-minute classes.

    Or, if you know you have to cover a certain amount of material (one curriculum I worked under nearly gave a day-by-day outline of material), know what needs to be covered and then adjust time as necessary. I had to do this with social studies. We did some reading from the text, guided notes, watched videos and responded, some groupwork, and some class time for homework/projects. BUT, there were some classes where I had to just provide a lot of information before we could move on--especially in some cases to cover the content that was required! I improved a bit as I told more stories to relay content. But I was so rushed!

    At the high school level with special Education English (the position I student taught in and was just hired for), we would do an opening activity (I love tying in the arts!), and then read and/or respond. Sometimes we did the mandated direct instruction for grammar and sentence construction. Sometimes we read as a class, or in small groups.

    Changing up activities helps the students maintain focus, so it's not a lecture for 90 minutes (of course, some days may require nearly that, depending on content).

    In my English setting, I had a lot of freedom, so I was able to take as much time as I needed. In that respect, I planned what I wanted to do, and then looked to see how best to fit it over a period of classes.

    When I began student teaching, I was required by my university to write the detailed lesson plan. This helped in that I had to write out everything I was going to do, and I was able to allot time. I was able to use that to keep myself on track (but, of course, flexible enough to change when necessary).

    As for suggestions on your specific situation . . . perhaps cut back on the vocabulary? I know it's only about 7 words, but perhaps if you reduced it to 4 or 5 the students would feel less pressured? Since 90 minutes is a long time for a student and you are doing so much else (only every other day), you may need to spend more time revisiting what was done last time (since some things may have been forgotten in all the 90-minute classes between).

    Of course, a shorter vocab list depends--do you spend a lot of time on those, or just assign them? Otherwise . . . how much time do you spend on culture and other interactive activities? Maybe lengthen the interactive portions (whether it be groupwork, artistic explorations, role-play, etc.). These can still result in grades and covering material (and reviewing it), and hopefully allows students to feel that the time is being passed quickly.

    Good luck!
     

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