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Old 09-08-2011, 06:29 PM
 
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We sort of hijacked a thread on block scheduling so I am going to start a new one.

As a teacher I have taught in a traditional 9 periods a day schedule, a half year block schedule and now I teach in an AB block schedule.

I have never liked the half year block because children can go as long as 1 1/2 between consecutive math or language courses which can mean retention problems. But I could go on and on about the benefits of the AB block.

I keep hearing people talk about the cons of the AB block but I am not sure what that means. From the other thread someone said that children cannot concentrate that long. Anyone have any other reason to dislike block scheduling?
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Old 09-08-2011, 06:33 PM
 
Location: Whoville....
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I've taught on a rotating block (not quite an A/B block) and loved it. Classes were, I believe, 72 minutes long. For me, as a science teacher, this gave lots of time for activities. What I had to watch is that I didn't plan too many and take too much class time on topic.

What I dislike about blocks is that sometimes, you wrap up one topic and the next step would be having the kids do homework and reviewing homework. When that happens, you end up using classtime for what should be homework because you can't do the review before they do the homework and you can't move on to the next topic.
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Old 09-08-2011, 08:01 PM
 
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For the uninitiated, here's a pretty clear explanation of block scheduling: Block scheduling - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I was on a committee with our HS where we were investigating block scheduling and testing seemed to be the one negative to block scheduling. AP tests and state tests are all given in April and early May and retention would be a problem for a class taken in the fall and not having gone far enough into the material would be a problem for the second semester. I know schools work that out, but it didn't seem like an easy fix.
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Old 09-08-2011, 08:33 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toobusytoday View Post
For the uninitiated, here's a pretty clear explanation of block scheduling: Block scheduling - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I was on a committee with our HS where we were investigating block scheduling and testing seemed to be the one negative to block scheduling. AP tests and state tests are all given in April and early May and retention would be a problem for a class taken in the fall and not having gone far enough into the material would be a problem for the second semester. I know schools work that out, but it didn't seem like an easy fix.
This is only a problem with certain types of block scheduling.

Our son's high school uses the A/B or as we call it, day 1 day 2. So core classes last the whole year, just every other day for the longer period of time.
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Old 09-08-2011, 08:35 PM
 
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Block schedules create a problem for students enrolled in AP classes, as those exams are administered in May. Students enrolled in a 1st semester AP class finish four(?) months before the test date, while students enrolled in a 2nd semester AP class have to take the test a month(?) prior to completing all the coursework.

What our school now does is schedule AP classes on an A/B day system, within the two-semester block schedule. What that means is that each of the four blocks can either be a semester class, meeting 90-ish minutes daily, five days/week OR it can be a 90-ish minute class that meets either M/W or T/R, and then half of the Friday block.

It's just darned confusing. Not to mention that some of the AP teachers currently have only a half prep, due to teaching three block classes and one A/B day AP class.

ETA: Oops! Didn't see toobusy's post upthread mentioning this problem.
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Old 09-08-2011, 08:43 PM
 
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Our school does eight classes on an A/B block, primarily, it seems, to double dose them in state tested courses. I was also told that with the possibility of earning 32 credits, it's easier for the kids who, *cough* weren't successful in some of their courses. I think we now require 26 credits for graduation, but they change it so often that I quit keeping up.

Teachers usually have no more than three subjects to teach. They teach three blocks per day, which are supposed to be 94 minutes each, but which vary due to a number of circumstances.

The benefits: We quit issuing lockers, as students carry fewer books. There are more class sets with student copies at home. We only change classes three times per day, and supervision is heavy before and after school. The students only have to do homework for four classes per day, as opposed to the seven we had before. Teachers get a lot of uninterrupted time to work, which is still far from enough to get everything done for class, believe it or not. There is less time spent on attendance and housekeeping chores due to fewer class periods.

The drawbacks When you slice the same pie eight ways instead of six or seven, you get a lot less pie. Over the school year that adds up, so that even when you figure in the time saved from taking roll, etc., you still come up several weeks short. When considering the time that other students have had, it can make a meaningful difference. For students who are double-dosed, they are earning a lot of bogus credits that don't count toward college admissions. They end up with a lot more time, nearly twice as much, but they are essentially taking one course twice. They aren't really taking eight different subjects. Student absenteeism is a serious problem that is exacerbated by the amount of content that is covered in each lesson. It is very easy to get behind with just a brief absence. Missing two days in a row is like missing a week. Many students do have a great deal of difficulty managing themselves for even very brief periods. They are nowhere near ready for college, so block scheduling is supposed to help them prepare for it. Some of them have trouble remembering the previous class period due to the break, but they usually get used to it. The level of supervision is nearly claustrophobic at times, but I suppose it keeps down the problems.

Overall, I like it for me, mainly because of the planning time, but I don't think it's good for the students.
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Old 09-09-2011, 02:09 PM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
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We do a modified A/B block.

Mondays the kids go to all 7 classes for 50 minutes each. Tuesdays/Thursdays, I see 1/3/5/7. Wednesday/Friday I see 2/4/5/6. 5th period is every day, because that's the lunch period. Blocks are 90 minutes long. 5th period is 60 minutes (plus 30 minutes for lunch).

Good news:
-Less time wasted in transition
-Ability to complete longer activities/labs/projects/exams

Bad news:
-The wonky 5th period schedule means that they end up with an extra HOUR of time each week. It's tricky to plan what to do with an extra hour when none of the other students I see get that.
-As a math teacher, I like to see my kids every day. I find that even 48 hours is long enough to forget plenty, sadly.

Inconclusive news:
-It's tough to plan a thoroughly engaging 90 minute block. Whine, whine, whine--I know that lessons should be engaging regardless of the length of the class, but any low point is exacerbated when kids are in your room for an hour and a half. I teach middle school, so I generally plan a lesson in 15 minute blocks--every 10-15 minutes, there is something that gets them moving, talking, on the computer, whatever. That's a lot of little pieces to break my lessons up into.

My student teaching was in a school with straight 7 periods M/T/F. W/Th were block days (A/B), which I really liked. That one day a week was reserved for my projects or exams, but the rest of the week was a length that 12 year olds could handle.
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Old 09-09-2011, 02:12 PM
 
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Our kids had an A/B block schedule in middle school and I loved that schedule. They would have 4 classes on Monday an 4 different classes on Tuesday, then Wednesday they would have the Monday classes again, etc. The next week the T/TH classes would be M/W/F. Basically you had two evenings to get any homework done so if you were busy one night you could plan to do it the next night.
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Old 09-09-2011, 02:27 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhpartridge View Post
Our school does eight classes on an A/B block, primarily, it seems, to double dose them in state tested courses. I was also told that with the possibility of earning 32 credits, it's easier for the kids who, *cough* weren't successful in some of their courses. I think we now require 26 credits for graduation, but they change it so often that I quit keeping up.

Teachers usually have no more than three subjects to teach. They teach three blocks per day, which are supposed to be 94 minutes each, but which vary due to a number of circumstances.

The benefits: We quit issuing lockers, as students carry fewer books. There are more class sets with student copies at home. We only change classes three times per day, and supervision is heavy before and after school. The students only have to do homework for four classes per day, as opposed to the seven we had before. Teachers get a lot of uninterrupted time to work, which is still far from enough to get everything done for class, believe it or not. There is less time spent on attendance and housekeeping chores due to fewer class periods.

The drawbacks When you slice the same pie eight ways instead of six or seven, you get a lot less pie. Over the school year that adds up, so that even when you figure in the time saved from taking roll, etc., you still come up several weeks short. When considering the time that other students have had, it can make a meaningful difference. For students who are double-dosed, they are earning a lot of bogus credits that don't count toward college admissions. They end up with a lot more time, nearly twice as much, but they are essentially taking one course twice. They aren't really taking eight different subjects. Student absenteeism is a serious problem that is exacerbated by the amount of content that is covered in each lesson. It is very easy to get behind with just a brief absence. Missing two days in a row is like missing a week. Many students do have a great deal of difficulty managing themselves for even very brief periods. They are nowhere near ready for college, so block scheduling is supposed to help them prepare for it. Some of them have trouble remembering the previous class period due to the break, but they usually get used to it. The level of supervision is nearly claustrophobic at times, but I suppose it keeps down the problems.

Overall, I like it for me, mainly because of the planning time, but I don't think it's good for the students.

I am on the AB block and I do not see any additional planning time. I still only get half of a block to plan. The other half is admin so we get to act as subs or do other "duties".

I totally agree about the absenteeism issue but we do not really have an issue with it since kids are aware of the problems associated with missing school.

I do not understand the pie analogy. Most high schools around here have 8 or 9 academic periods a day as it is on a traditional school. I do not know of a single high school that only has six or seven periods, do they just not have electives?
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Old 09-09-2011, 02:29 PM
 
16,587 posts, read 14,060,224 times
Reputation: 20556
Quote:
Originally Posted by toobusytoday View Post
For the uninitiated, here's a pretty clear explanation of block scheduling: Block scheduling - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I was on a committee with our HS where we were investigating block scheduling and testing seemed to be the one negative to block scheduling. AP tests and state tests are all given in April and early May and retention would be a problem for a class taken in the fall and not having gone far enough into the material would be a problem for the second semester. I know schools work that out, but it didn't seem like an easy fix.
How is that an issue in AB block scheduling?
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