By Coraline Crannell
The block schedule that continued for a few weeks and that we just retired was due to the California State Testing that all students had to take, and the long time periods the test required to complete. In many ways, this schedule was most convenient and helpful. It eliminated problems that arose last year without it. However, it also had its downsides.
Testing also took place last year, except without the modified schedule. This created a problem, however, because students took their tests individually and continued taking it in the library or computer lab until they were finished. As the test took a long time and some students took longer than others, this created an issue because there would be very few students in the next few classes, and they continued to arrive continuously through the period. Teachers had to make sure they had work for their lessons that could be completed in this way. This year, that problem was solved with the idea of having a modified block schedule. In this way, students were given two hour time periods in their classes to do their testing, which they continued later in the week. If they still did not finish, they could be granted extra time on Thursdays.
There were several wonderful things about the way classes were organized that were extremely helpful, both for students and teachers alike. However, for other subjects, it was a bit of a struggle for teachers to find something to keep their students listening for two whole hours. In eighth grade Honors English classes, for example, it was extremely helpful as they were in the process of reading and performing “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” to prepare for their final. Science classes found the added time super helpful, because it allowed them to do more labs (like the recently completed rocket lab). Elective classes loved having the extra time to have longer periods to do their projects.
“History is so much more fun with the block schedule as we use the longer time periods to delve deeper into the topics we are learning about and watch a lot of videos and powerpoints,” said Grace Miller.
Several other students agreed and noted how that applied to several of their other classes. Most teachers also liked the schedule, as they got more time to get more things done with their students, and they also got longer breaks during their classes to prepare. Mr. Shelton spoke about how he loved block schedule because it enabled teachers to divide the class into smaller units and was helpful for his classes that are acting out “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and others that are doing projects. Several other teachers felt the same way.
However, like all other things, this kind of half-block did have its downsides. For one, teachers only saw their students three times a week, with odd periods seeing them two days in a row and then two days later seeing them again for a shorter period. Teachers and students without a sixth period may have also found this problematic, as they had to stay until 2:20 on Mondays and Tuesdays and end at 11:57 on Wednesdays and Fridays.
These weren’t the only things that were negatively affected by the block schedule, though. It was not uncommon to hear students loudly complaining about how each class seemed to drag on forever, or see them constantly checking the clock to see how much longer they would have to sit still in their seats, suffering through endless worksheets in some classes because teachers had difficulty coming up with four weeks worth of long projects. In most classes this was a large exaggeration, though it was hard for some teachers to find things to do in their classes for two hours straight, but they did a very good job by introducing to projects and activities.
The block schedule was a really effective way to solve the testing problem; and it was very cool experiencing a new schedule and what it might feel like!