Sunday, July 02, 2006

Block Scheduling

I am still undecided on whether I support block scheduling. I'm leaning more towards not supporting block scheduling based on mathematical data (provided at the end of this post) and personal research but will refrain from a final decision until after this school year. You see, my son is the guinea pig this year. He attends Milton Somers which went to block scheduling for this school year. For a boy who is organizationally handicapped to start with, this is already turning out to be a nightmare and more work for me. Hopefully it will get better and won't need reminders every night as to which books to pack in the book bag. As for the data I promised, I will give you the following excerpt from Margaret Young's website:
Over the course of just one year students lose approximately 13.5 hours (16 school days) of instructional time. The cumulative effect over the middle school and high school career would be 94.5 hours of instruction PER SUBJECT! Here's why:

Schools are open 6.5 hours per day
Assume 30 minute lunches for both block and regular schedules
Regular scheduled schools have 7 periods; block schedules have 4 (therefore block scheduled schools are divided by 8 periods)
6.5 hours per day x 60 min. per hr. = 390 min. per school day
390 min. - 30 min. lunch = 360 min. left

360 min. - 21 min. to change for 7 classes and lunch (3 min. @) = 339 min.
339 min. divided by 7 classes = 48 min. instruction per class
48 min. class x 180 days per year = 8640 min. (144 hrs.)

360 min. - 12 min. to change for 4 classes and lunch (3 min @) = 348 min.
348 min. divided by 4 classes = 87 min. instruction per class
87 min. class x 90 (meets every other day) = 8730 min. (130.5 hrs.)
144 hrs. Regular - 130.5 hrs. Block = 13.5 hrs. difference (a.k.a. 16.875 Regular Schedule School Days)
Of course this is only true for science, social studies, physical education, arts (band, choir, art, etc.), foreign language, and all other subjects that aren't math or English.
Okay, we are upping the hours for math and English but shortening the hours in all other subjects. I have to wonder if there is a method to the madness. Maybe this is just one more way to get a handle on all of the mandatory testing to ensure we (the system) make the grade.


Anonymous said...

thx for your opinion - I do want to point out something though. The overcrowding in the schools make for extremely crowded hallways. changing classes 4x a day vs. 7x is more appealing when you take into consideration the extreme overcrowdedness of our schools.

Also, you are counting minute for minute of instructional time, and it really doesn't work like that. When changing classes, there is usually a 5-10 minute time at the beginning of each class to take attendance, check homework, talking amongst students that need to settle down, etc.

Anonymous said...

Well, Annapolis High School has some experience with this I think.

My husband's teens have done the block-scheduling thing and they HATED it. They complained all the time.

I think trying to break days down to the minute like that looks all offical on paper, but in real life it doesn't work out.


Jennifer Abell said...

Well my son seems to have adjusted better than I. However, I have heard from quite a few teachers who dislike it. One it's hard to hold students attention for one class period, much less for two. The students become fidgity, lost interest, teachers have to implement break times, and then we are right back to where we started. In addition, in a nation that is rapid "super-sizing" I am worrie about the decreased time for physical education. I would love for some of our educators to weigh in on this topic.