Looking for opinions regarding Block sys

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2006
Looking for opinions regarding Block sys
5
Thu, 02-09-2006 - 4:29pm

Hi, I am looking for opinions from others who have had expereince with or knowledge of block system cirriculum for middle and high school kids - pros and cons.

the way our school works is that the kids have 4 classes each semester (2 semesters per year) the classes are 1:45 minutes long. as a parent i see alot of drawbacks to this system as do numerous other parents in our district. we are hoping to lobby the school board to change back to a more traditional type of schedule but i think we need data and support to back up our assertions.

the issues i am having are along the lines of my child may have math the first semester of her freshman year and then not have math again until the second semester of her sophmore year, almost a year and a half later. we have our standardized test in the fall, my daughter told me that the science portion of this years tests were heavy in biology of which she had had no exposure until the second semester of this year, long after the tests were completed. if you are in band/choir you have to use one block each semester for that class, leaving you only 3 blocks per year to get in your academic classes - which is proving to be a big issue with kids who are trying to take demanding academic schedules to get into college - to the point that alot of them are having to choose between academics and band.

anyway, i would appreciate any comments from others who know about this system and how it works. i had never seen or heard of it until we moved to this school district.

Jennie

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Thu, 02-09-2006 - 5:14pm

We have one high school in our district with this type of scheduling. They are planning to get rid of it next year due to money issues. They (school board) claim it costs too much money. Parents are furious and many parents have moved to be in that school's jurisdiction. The students from that school are more prepared for college than from any other school in the district. The parents have been signing petitions and already voicing their opinions.

However, I do see the drawbacks that you are mentioning about standardized testing. That's not as much an issue here because our standardized testing is in the spring.

Other schools nearby (but not OUR district) do math blocks and language arts (reading AND English) blocks. Math for 90 minutes, language arts for 90 minutes. Language arts for that amount of time is what we're doing just not in blocks (separate teachers or separate time periods), but we only have 50 minutes of math per day which totally stinks. You can't even get independent practice in by the time you get everything going.

Alysha


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-26-2000
Thu, 02-16-2006 - 8:03pm

Middle school teacher here who LOVES it. Our students have 90 minutes of math and 90 minutes of Language Arts every single day. They have 90 minutes of social studies and 90 minutes of science every other day (or in the case of 6th grade, they have either SS or Science for 4.5 weeks and then switch). And finally they have 90 minutes of PE or 90 minutes of an elective every other day.

I can see legitimate concerns with block scheduling being implemented in the way that you described (every day for 1 semester). I don't know if I'd like that, either.

Advantages for us have been numerous, though. Less movement on campus. (We have a rowdy bunch this year, and it is nice that they only change classes 3x a day.) Less time spent on transitions. (If you allow 3 minutes per change, we're only using 9 minutes per day changing classes vs 21 minutes, if we changed every hour for 8 hours). PE actually has time to get dressed out and complete an activity. Same for Home Ec, Art, etc. They can actually complete a recipe or some artwork before having to pick up. You don't have homework in every class every night. And for social studies and science, you have 2 nights to complete the homework.

For the kid that loses or forgets everything, they only make 4 stops in a day, as opposed to 8.

Your issues with the idea are legitimate, but there are more than one way to skin a cat.

I went to a magnet HS (way back when) which offered a lot of honors and AP classes. We met with our 1st hour class every day for 50 minutes, and the other 5, for an hour and 45 minutes (or so) 3 times a week. I think our schedule was Monday 1,2,3,5; Tuesday 1,3,4,6; Wednesday 1,2,5,6; Thursday 1,3,4,5; Friday 1,2,4,6. Only 6 hours back then. Can't believe I remember that schedule after 20 years.

Karen

 


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Avatar for galena417
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-27-2003
Mon, 02-20-2006 - 11:28am

Hi Jennie,

I teach high school in Ontario, Canada, and in my board, there are only 3 schools (of say 30) that do not teach high school in a semestered system (2 blocks of 4 courses).

I have taught in both systems, and when I was in grade 11, my school switched to semesters, and there are advantages and disadvantages to each.

When I taught in the non-semestered system, it was still 75 minutes periods, with a "day 1/day 2" system, four classes one day & the other four the next. It gave students more time to assimilate information, but on the other hand, at exam time they had twice as many exams to write.

My current school runs on the semester system, and though it is likely that for some classes there will be more than a year between (as you suggested), most courses do start with some review time rather than just jumping in where we left off. One advantage is that students only have to focus on four subjects at a time, and only writing exams for four courses instead of eight.

It is my understanding that most schools go to a semester system for financial reasons - less books are required because only half the students are taking a course at a time (of course, they have to be replaced or rebound more often because they're getting twice the use in a year...).

I found that as a student, it wasn't too bad to switch from 8 courses at once to semesters, but then again, I was a good student, and I am sure there are students who would definitely be better off in a non-semestered school.

Hope this helps,

Angela

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-15-2005
Fri, 02-24-2006 - 3:50pm

Hi,

I'm a special ed. teacher at a high school that is on the block system. First of all I think it is great for most reg. ed. students. It gives extra teacher time, and less transition between classes. For some studnets with special needs however, 1.75 hours is simply to long to sit in one spot.
This issue as well as the issue with band/choir has been slightly resolved by us offering one block of "skinny" classes.(the EEN department offers 2 "skinny" blocks= 4 shortened classes per day) Classes such as band, choir, and some math classes are offered on the skinny, which means that students have them for 45 minutes per day all year. We are debating moving this skinny class from the middle of the day to the end of the day so that the students that are in sports can take the last 45 minutes as a study hall, elliminating the problem with them missing class to go to far away sports meets.

Toni

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-26-2000
Sat, 02-25-2006 - 3:22pm

Just one question - what's EEN?

Karen

 


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