Hello Everyone, I am a first year teacher at a school that is, luckily, small enough for us to socially distance out kids while in the building, so so far I have been teaching in person for two months, and I feel like I am failing my students in 8th grade. The school uses block scheduling for all classes expect middle school math and English. To get a clearer picture, my 8th grade math class is about an hour and fifteen minutes everyday. I am have an awful time trying to come up with effective lesson plans as a result. All of my other classes have block scheduling so I have a group of students every other day, and when I was student teaching, the school had period scheduling so while the classes were everyday, the time was significantly shorter. I feel like I have far too much time on my hands. Trying to plan to keep the kids engaged for that amount of time every day is exhausting, as I feel that I haven't found the formula that works like I have for the rest of my classes. It does, also, not help that I cannot stand the book my school provides. The lesson in the book are clearly made for period scheduling, so it seems to be somewhat expected that I do more than one lesson a class, which I have not been doing as there is a limit to how much the kids can learn. Then lunch is right in the middle of the class, which creates odd pacing issues. I really want to come up with better ideas on to how to make the most of this situation so that I can have a productive year, and be the teacher these kids need, but I am just at a loss on what to do.

I had one 8th grade class with lunch in the middle when I was student teaching, and man, was it a scheduling/pacing nightmare. They were always off where the other 2 sections were. I don't know why anyone would choose to do that, this year being the exception. I have two suggestions: use the second part of class as homework time where they can ask questions and you can work with smaller groups to support understanding or add some sort of real-life application or project-based learning component for part of class. That would fix the issue with the book lessons not matching the time block you have. Both would be easy to sell/defend to admin. too, if the need should arise.

I feel for you. I never thought I'd make it through my first year. My suggestion is to change activities or move them every 20 minutes. To do this, you'll have a schedule something like this: 1. Lesson from the book 2. Related math activity that's hands on. This could be: describe a math experiment, get the kids to make predictions, then run the experiment and then debrief. Have them make "rules" for how math things behave then test the rules. This could be really fun. 3. Super short math history lesson: how did this precept get discovered or developed. This could include brief video clips. 4. Math puzzles: e.g. how can you find the square root of a negative number when multiplying two negatives results in a positive number?