Information and Frequently Asked Questions
Block Scheduling Presentation
Frequently Asked Questions
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Why are we shifting to block scheduling?
In an effort to maximize instructional time for all students, block scheduling is being recommended for Churchill Junior High School and East Brunswick High School for September 2021. This schedule will help us better meet the social, emotional, and academic needs of all students.
Block scheduling prepares students for the scheduling format they will likely see in college. Longer class periods allow students who are seeking a career path after graduation to delve deeper into applications and skills in classes such as the practical arts. This schedule also promotes more collaboration and interaction which is an important skill for all students to develop prior to graduation.
How will block scheduling enhance learning?
Four 82-minute instructional periods daily will allow for more instructional time, leading to more time for students to apply the skills they just learned and more time for teachers to provide individualized attention and support. Furthermore, fewer classes in a day will help to: balance the workload for students and teachers, personalize the school environment, provide extended learning time, increase the amount of time students are engaged in their learning, and provide opportunities for social and emotional learning.
There are many benefits to teaching and learning with block scheduling. This scheduling model: provides more time to teach, coach, assess, and reteach with less wasted time transitioning - fewer “start-ups” and “endings” result in more usable instructional time, encourages teaching in depth and promotes higher level thinking skills, and allows students and staff the ability to focus on only four courses per day.
How can students sustain attention for the extended period?
Longer class periods encourage teaching with a variety of instructional models. The 82 minute period would be structured in a way to provide direct instruction of the day’s topic, ample time for students to use that knowledge in meaningful ways, including student collaboration and an opportunity for the teacher to assess which students are understanding the material and who may need additional support. During the bulk of the class period, students will be engaged hands-on in various ways with some examples such as learning centers, group projects, or simulations. This time allows the students to apply the skills/strategies just learned into context.
Will students have more work with this schedule?
No. This schedule will result in a redistribution of workload by allowing students to prepare for only four classes per day instead of eight. Over the school year, the total number of instructional hours will continue to exceed the minimum number of hours per course required by the New Jersey Department of Education. Reorganizing instructional periods into longer blocks ensures that our students are still receiving the in-depth instruction needed to meet or exceed the NJSLS, while maximizing opportunities for social-emotional learning and reducing student stress.
Will this schedule be more stressful for students?
No. There are many benefits of block scheduling for a student's academic, social, and emotional well-being. This scheduling model reduces stress while still offering a broad and rigorous curriculum, enables students to have fewer classes, quizzes, tests, and homework on any one day, provides fewer class changes which will improve school climate, discipline and cleanliness. Additionally, because teachers will see fewer students each day, they will get to know each student better and be able to offer more individualized support.
This schedule provides a stand-alone homeroom period which will offer time during the school day for classroom community-building, social-emotional learning activities, and so forth… With this schedule also comes an extended mid-day lunch period to allow students to decompress, see their counselor, or chat with friends.
How will the longer periods affect special education instruction?
Students with special needs benefit from the block schedule by having the opportunity to be exposed to extended time within each subject. Block scheduling provides instructional benefits through increased time for small groups, reinforcement of the lesson, practice of the skills introduced, and instruction related to IEP goals and objectives.
Block scheduling for our special education students reduces the amount of daily transitions and concerns with organizational skills. Students will be able to focus on four classes each day and how to prepare for those courses instead of the overwhelming task of having eight courses in one day. For our significant population, less transitions result in fewer problem behaviors as transitions are of concern for many of our students. Less unstructured time benefits our students.
How will special education students focus and attend for a longer block period?
Special education teachers will plan their block lesson to incorporate movement breaks. In the current model, the walk between classes provides this type of break. In the new block schedule, the teachers can plan meaningful activities that allow a "rest" from the lesson and an opportunity to regain the students' attention.
Will related services or opportunities for students to check in with the Child Study Team be affected?
No. Quite the opposite, in fact. Having more minutes in a class will allow the flexibility for students to see their case manager or go to a related service, such as speech, occupational or physical therapy, counseling group, or social skills group without missing the entire class period. Teachers can plan accordingly so the student can be taught what he/she missed during the same day instead of having to wait for the next day of school.
What impact will this schedule have on electives?
With the move to the modified A/B block schedule there will no longer be quarter electives as all the electives will either be a semester or a full year course. The quarter electives that were previously offered have either been expanded to include a semester worth of material or have been combined with other quarter electives to create a new and exciting semester elective.
Will students be taking fewer courses?
No. Currently, students have a typical course load of eight classes (40 Credits per year) during a given marking period. This eight class course load will remain the same with the modified A/B block schedule.
What other districts are using this model?
1 in 3 high schools in the country use a form of block scheduling. While there are variations, we are proposing a modified A/B block schedule where students take each course for a full year, every other day.
If students are not meeting with their teacher every day, how will they stay connected?
Students in grades 8-12 will continue to use Canvas Learning Management System for all courses. All assignments, readings, posts, messages will be communicated via the Canvas platform. The extended period in a block format will facilitate the teacher’s ability to incorporate instructional strategies that promote greater student engagement. This includes more time for student-to-student and student-to-teacher collaboration and interaction during the instructional period.
What will be the impact of block scheduling on AP courses?
Block scheduling is better for higher-level courses such as AP because of the depth of these courses. This format will provide extended blocks of time for reading, writing, critical analysis, and discussion without interruption. Block scheduling will provide more time for students to apply what they learned in the same room with an expert. This format is better to cover big ideas, concepts, and texts in longer blocks of time; it also allows for the "day off" for the students to complete the substantial reading that all AP courses demand. With longer periods, students will be able to dig deep and sustain engagement in AP activities. Regular practice testing will be chunked into segments.
Who can I contact if I have further questions?
You may submit a question via this form: https://www.ebnet.org/Page/13669
The FAQs will be updated based on questions submitted.