Block vs Traditional schedule?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Ron6103, Jun 14, 2009.

  1. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Jun 14, 2009

    Our school board this past week voted to take my district off of the block schedule (after about a decade on it). Next year will be our final year on the block. We currently run A/B days, with four 85 minute periods per day. We will be switching to an 8 period day of 50 minutes per class.

    My feelings are mixed. I like that I will be able to cover more ground per school year, and will see my kids each day. But I dislike not having that extra time for longer activities and discussions. I wanted to get some thoughts on this... for high school or middle school teachers, what do you prefer if you had a choice, a traditional or block schedule?
     
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  3. beccmo

    beccmo Comrade

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    Jun 14, 2009

    We have a traditional schedule of 8 50 minute periods. Many days I think this is fine.

    But on days when I have a lab, I really wish I had a longer class period. It seems that after I have finished demonstrating/explaining and reminding of safety (get your goggles on!!) there is only 30-35 minutes of class left--AND I have to stop everyone early to clean up before the bell.
     
  4. ANGRY AL

    ANGRY AL Companion

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    Jun 14, 2009

    I think the traditional schedule is the way to go. For how many years now have these "experts" been drilling into our heads, "Fifteen-minute attention span, fifteen minute attention span.....?" And then they fly directly in the face of that "philosophy" and encourage schools to have 90 minute blocks. In my situation, we get screwed on prep time with block scheduling, also. We get one block that's split into our prep, a duty, and our lunch.

    Give me traditional periods any day!
     
  5. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Jun 14, 2009

    We recently voted and block scheduling is here to stay for at least next year. Block doesn't affect me because I have my kids all day long. But I've heard different sides of the argument - the same ones that have already been mentioned.

    What's wierd is that our high schools will be switching from a 6 period to a 7 period day starting this fall. ?? So... 8th graders will be going from an 85 minute class period to a 35 minute - or whatever it is. After your starter and attendance and getting them on task - and taking into account clean-up/closing time - that gives you about 25 minutes to teach a lesson. :eek: I may have my times messed up though.
     
  6. Groovy

    Groovy Companion

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    Jun 14, 2009

    I prefer traditional, 45 or 60 minute periods. Our district is doing blocks for one more year, then in the 10-11 school year they'll go back to periods. My daughter loved choir in high school, so she took choir in the fall, and again in the spring. This took up 1/4 of her academic year. That did not leave room for other electives like FACS, Theater, and other things she would have liked to take as well. I can understand why a lab class needs extra time, but as a parent, I prefer periods, as a teacher, I prefer periods, and the students will benefit from the change of scenery, too.

    Yeah, I heard about the 15-minute attention span, too. Heard about it? I live it. These kids were raised on Sesame Street and sound bites. They are used to going from one thing to the next to the next to the next. Why on earth were we expecting them to sit there for 90 minutes? Who came up with that idea?
    </rant>

    Best to you.
     
  7. Cateacher2b

    Cateacher2b Companion

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    Jun 14, 2009

    My son will be a 9th grader this fall and has been on the block schedule since 7th grrade. This is why he likes it:
    1. only has homework in 4 classes each day instead of in 8
    2. doesnt have each class every day
    3. longer transitions between classes (10 minutes)
     
  8. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Jun 14, 2009

    And these are two of the reason why I hated block schedule - nothing but trouble comes from 10 minutes in the hallway for high schoolers. I have taught both and for me, a traditional schedule works best for my teaching style. And I agree with angryAl - 15 minutes attention span had been pounded into my head at so many conferences, seminars and classes.

    I was never so happy to start a new school year as I was when we returned to a traditional schedule. BTW - we followed the block schedule for 3 years.
     
  9. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Jun 14, 2009

    I LOVE my 90 minutes classes. I feel like they fly by and I can get so much done. We have a traditional block schedule - 4 classes one semester and 4 the other.
     
  10. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    Jun 14, 2009

    We have five 79 minute blocks each day. Every block meets every day, then in mid January we give finals and then get a new set of students. Unlike AngryAl, we get a full 79 minute prep block, then another 79 minute block is split into a 37 minute lunch and a 37 minute duty (and 5 minutes to get to the lunch or duty). There's 5 minutes between classes, so longer passing isn't an issue.

    Of course I love my 79 minute prep and approx 40 minute lunch. As far as when I'm teaching, some days I like it, other days I'd prefer something shorter. I find though that if I plan well and have a variety of activities, then I still break it up into 15-20 minute parts and that works well. I'd certainly never lecture for the whole block. And on food lab days it's awesome because at least half the labs we do would never work in a period less than an hour.
     
  11. MrsTeacher2Be

    MrsTeacher2Be Companion

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    Jun 14, 2009

    I love my blocks, but that's really all I've ever known since my high school was on blocks also. We're on 4x4 blocks, so I get a whole new bunch when we come back from Christmas. It's really nice if you have a student who just drives you batty, because you know you'll lose him at Christmas, but at the same time you lose the good ones then too. I can't imagine having twice as many students, twice as many papers to grade, twice as many times to have to present the same material each day, twice as many parents to call. I know kids have 15 minute (or shorter) attention spans, but there's a lot of times you can break blocks up to accommodate that.
     
  12. LynnB

    LynnB Rookie

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    Jun 16, 2009

    I did my student teaching on a 4x4 schedule and my kids attended a school w/ a 4x4, but I teach seven (50 min) periods. I prefer the 4x4 because of the fewer preps and the longer plan time (like Teacher2be, I got the full block for planning). I have had 4 preps at a time with more than 120 students in the seven period day. That's tough to juggle for an English teacher grading essays and research papers! It would be easier to break the preps down and the student numbers and have more planning/grading time.

    Also, an advantage for the seniors was if they happened to fail a subject, they could retake it the second semester. Also, students who failed a subject area test could repeat the class the second semester, retake the test, and not lag behind.
     
  13. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    I suppose I can see some clear advantages and disadvantages to both, but I'm still left with one question. I also have taught on both... last year on the block, and the year before on an eight period day. For one of my courses, I used the same curriculum.

    Under the block, I got through less material. An entire unit less actually. Is that typical? It seems to me that although there is more time in one class, there is less overall contact time?
     
  14. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Jun 16, 2009

    Ron - I totally agree. While teaching block, I never was able to get to my normal ending point I reached while teaching on a tradtional schedule. The only thing I could come up with as a reason was missing class for pep sessions, convos, meetings and other the other various reasons was much more of a detriment time wise. Missing one class on a block schedule probably equals at least 3 days of regular class - and snow days eekkkeee. Again, another reason I perfer traditional schedule
     
  15. Teacher_Lady

    Teacher_Lady Rookie

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    Jun 17, 2009

    We are currently on an A/B block schedule where each class is 90 minutes. I really do not like this set up. Middle schoolers definitely do not have the attention span to last that long. They also have a horrible problem retaining what they learned since I only see them every other day. Plus, if a student is absent, it is hard to get them caught up. They also tend to forget about homework more often. It might be an ok idea for older kids in high school with semesters, but definitely not middle schoolers.
     
  16. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Jun 17, 2009

    This discussion is very interesting to me. When I was subbing, almost all of the schools I worked at had an A/B block schedule with either 4 or 5 blocks and teachers had one block prep. A few schools still had either 7 or 8 periods.

    Since I will be teaching science, I love block schedule--it will give me all the freedom I need to do lots of little hands on things plus larger scale experiments.

    I was assuming my school will be doing A/B days, but now, remembering what the principal said, it sounds like I will have 3 90 minute blocks, a 90 minute prep (no duty for teachers) and a lunch. This is a bit scary to me as a new teacher since it means I need my whole year planned and mapped out much sooner. But, I guess I also get a "do over" the next semester, an immediate opportunity to learn my all of my mistakes.

    What are the pros/cons of the A/B vs every day schedules? I will have 9th graders, unless I am also given an elective to teach. I think I can effectively counteract the attention span issue by always having something hands-on for them to do and I want to show lots of clips from movies (ie 5-10 minutes from Hollywood films showing concepts we are about to discuss).

    I am very nervous but also very excited. I am waffling back and forth from feelings of impending doom "what were they thinking hiring me?!" to feelings of "I am going to be the best darn earth science teacher ever." Hopefully by the time September rolls around, I will have found a mental balance somewhere in between!
     
  17. LynnB

    LynnB Rookie

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    Jun 18, 2009

    What are the pros/cons of the A/B vs every day schedules?


    I've never taught on the A/B schedule but was subbing at our vocational center when our county schools were on A/B blocks and the city was on the daily 4x4. Since the vocational school served both schools, scheduling was a nightmare! The city schools have kept their 4x4, but the county did away with the A/B 8 years ago because it was such a hassle. The teachers I now work with in the county say they hated it. Problems cropped every time there was a holiday or a snow day b/c students would be confused about what schedule they were supposed to be on when they returned.

    I remember the "I-can-save-the-world" mentality I had when I first started teaching. I wish I could get some of that back!
     
  18. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Jun 18, 2009

    We run on the A/B block (and will for just another year before switching back to traditional). The advantage over the 4X4 is that you see the kids for the entire year, and so there is far more continuity in courses. Plus, I would imagine it feels far less rushed, even if the amount of time in the room is technically similar. And on the A/B system, kids get two days to get homework done, and so many kids said they feel less pressure under this system.

    All that said, and from hearing much of this discussion, my displeasure for our system is becoming evident. As opposed to the traditional, I cover less material, the kids retain less material, and with their short attention spans, I'm sure I lose a lot of them throughout the period (even with varied activities).
     
  19. dcalhoun

    dcalhoun Companion

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    Jul 24, 2009

    When I was in Middle School we had block scheduling and I loved it.
     
  20. hernandoreading

    hernandoreading Comrade

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    Jul 24, 2009

    Our district is making all middle schools go to traditional schedule this year. We have always had a modified block schedule at my school. For subjects like math, this will be better because the long blocks (in conjunction with a district pacing guide) often forced teachers to cover two or three topics in one long class period, and now it will be back to one most of the time, allowing students time to digest the info.
     

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