Block Scheduling / B. Variations of “Block” systems

Synopsis prepared by Lee Risley
Introduction, an example, and contributors


A. Rationale for the Block Scheduling System
B. Variations of “Block” systems
C. Methods Useful for Block Instruction
D. Thoughts, Opinions, Concerns
E. Positive Personal Experiences
F. Negative Personal Experiences
G. Positive & Negative Observations
H. Block as Concerns FL Specifically
I. Further Reference Sources

B. Variations of "Block" Systems

94/12 From-> Jeannie Exum <>
Subject: Re: 80 minute classes

We are using a 90 minute class in our high school this year, trying out
block scheduling for the first time. The objective is to teach a
conventional year's course in one semester. (The exception is AP classes
which continue all year, also for 90 minutes per day). I have an
advanced French II class which really will get a year's worth in this
semester. They are really hustling, though, to keep up with this
concentrated pace.

I feel that the 90 minutes every day all year for the AP may be too much
- overkill, no matter how you vary the curriculum (unless you have a
language lab - we do not). I believe this would work better if we
retained the 90 minute class, but taught it 3 times a week for a year.

Their attention spans would be better able to handle the long class and
the repetition needed in for oral proficiency would not be jeopardized.
Having to cover so much material in one semester ( it has been computed
to be 30 hours shorter) is definitely slanted toward the advanced
student, and may be unfair to the average or below average learner. the
pace itself makes it advanced. I would be interested to know how others
are handling block scheduling.

Jeannie Exum, Kinston, NC


95/02 From-> Kendall Mellem <>
Subject: Re: Block scheduling

Dear Angela, I appreciated your comments on block scheduling. Our
district is planning to go to a plan that would have 90 minute classes
which meet every other day. The foreign language, music, math and
chemistry teachers oppose the change but have been overridden. In our
case, this is the administration's attempt to create a schedule that
would allow students to take more than six classes per semester.

Our board of education plans to increase the number of math and science
credits required for graduation. If a way to allow more than six classes
per semester is not found, teachers of elective subjects may find
themselves out of a job. We are trying to come up with a proposal that
would incorporate both 90-minute-long classes every other day AND daily

Meanwhile, we FL teachers are holding our far we've found no
FL department that has profited from block scheduling. A German teacher
at another local school which uses block scheduling tells me that her
students are far behind where they used to be at this time of year. If
anyone has any good advice, we could use it. We do not have a lab to
rely on, and our access to computers is limited unless proposed bond
issues pass...

(Mrs.) Kendall Mellem


95/03 From-> Marie Miller Whitehead <WHITEHEM@TEN-NASH.TEN.K12.TN.US>
Subject: Re: Block scheduling

I teach at Franklin High School in Williamson Cty, TN. We began a
"modified block" last year (not the 4 x 4 or off road variety). We meet
6 periods on M and F - then rotate 4 85 minute blocks on T, W, and Th.
Each class then meets 4 days per week, with 2 of the meetings
traditional 50 minute class periods and the other two 85 minute blocks.
It isn't too confusing and I seem to have covered the same amount of
material as before.

I have computers - a "21st century" classroom - and the longer times
allow for better access to computer time. Also, since I do quite a bit
of oral work on the longer days I can have each student in class do a
"mini interview" with me over the current lesson. We use the Scott
Foresman text which lends itself to grammar-in-context communicative
activities. After the students have practiced with partners, they then
have to talk to me!

Marie Whitehead


95/03 From->
Subject: Re: Flexible Block Scheduling

For many many years our four unit academic transfer FL courses were
taught in four fifty minute modules, plus 100 minutes in the language
laboratory per week (l8 week semester). In the Fall semester of l992 we
began an alternative schedule of two100 minute class modules per week,
plus the l00 minutes in the language laboratory. The laboratory minutes
are done in two 50 minute sessions per week, at the students'
convenience. Thus, we offer both traditional and a sort of block
schedule. I have taught both. I have even taught both in the same
semester. We are able to accomplish the same results in both modes.
However, some adjustments are required.



95/03 From->
Subject: Flexible Block Scheduling

Dear Foreign Language Friends,

I  recently made inquiry regarding AB block Schedules. I teach French in a
high school. Our school district will begin using an A/B Flexible Block
Schedule beginning in the Fall of  95. The schedule will consist of  3 - 100
minute classes  alternating daily and 1 - 60
minute class meeting everyday. I would like add to my inquiry. I would like
to hear from those foreign language instructors at the post secondary level
(especially, those involved in Student Teacher Field Experience).

Sue Glendening


95/05 From-> Marc Brune <>
Subject: Re: 4-period day

Our school switched to the block schedule this year. Classes are 89
minutes long. One semester of 89 minutes classes was supposed to equal
one year of 49 minutes classes. Can you cover as much material? This
first year around I did not, but that is partly due to it being a new
routine. The 89 minute periods do not seem 89 minutes long. Naturally I
cover more material now each day, but there is just so much that the
average student can absorb at one sitting. The block system does allow
for more time do do a variety of activities to practice the new
concepts. Talking to other teachers in my school I find that they have
had similar experience. Personally I like the 3 period day. It is much
less stressful for both the students and the teacher.

Fritz from Oregon


95/07 From-> Bernadette Morris <>
Subject: Block Scheduling

60% of North Carolina's high schools are on block scheduling. Some have
scheduled the 4x4 scheduling over 2 semesters while others are using an
A/B schedule for the entire year. This last option allows for continuity
in sequential courses such as foreign languages. Some other systems are
having 2 90 min. blocks but they divide the remaining 90 min. for
special courses like band or foreign languages.

Teachers involved in block scheduling have had to develop their local
curriculum along with pacing guides and weekly plans. Most love
scheduling because it affords them the opportunity to vary the
instructional strategies (this is a must if block scheduling is to
succeed). Most teachers are telling us that the students are able to do
as much at the end of one semester as they would in a traditional

Bernadette Morris


95/09 From -> peggy boyles <>
Subject: Re: Block Scheduling

This is our first year of "being on the block". The verdict is still
out, but our high schools adopted a hybrid block schedule. There are 8
blocks in the day. Some are split blocks; others are full blocks. The
full blocks run 100 minutes, and complete the term by Jan. The split
blocks run only 55 minutes, and complete the term by May. Only Blocks
1&2 and Blocks 7&8 can be split. The only "alternate day" classes are
for the AP and IB sections. So... most foreign language classes can run
all year long for the shorter time period, or for half the year for the
longer time period. It will be interesting to compare progress in all
year/vs half year classes. We are all adjusting. Teachers reported that
kids looked up at them with wild eyed looks the first days of class
saying, "How much longer do we stay in here?" But we're still smiling!
Our school board is involved in a review process of the first year, and
with the help of teachers and curriculum coordinators, will make
recommendations for next year.

Peggy Boyles


95/11 From-> Hall-Dale Middle School Grade 8 Team <>
Subject: Re: Block Scheduling

Our 350 student high school has been using an alternate day block
schedule for four years. My experience with it generally confirms Jody
Klopp's assessment, with the exception of first year. Running ninety
minute classes of 25 or more beginners, can be a real problem, since
there's a limit to how many group or pair activities you can engineer
for those whose repertoire is that limited. Another problem is that
while it's true that kids get a great deal more practice in extended
periods, they also miss that much more when they're absent, and our
experience is that that time never gets made up.

In the way of all high schools, there are also a certain number of
interruptions to the normal schedule (anything, after all, is more
important than academic class time!), so that you have weeks when you
only see your students once. Consequently, our department convinced
administrators that first year language classes should be scheduled on a
more conventional 45 minute daily basis by splitting a 90 minute period
and sharing it with a study hall or required trimester 9th grade courses
like keyboarding/computer literacy that tend to be more effective with
frequent exposure. Beyond level 1, I think the advantages of longer
meeting times outweigh the disadvantages of less frequent meetings and
the occasional hiatus.

Some schools in this part of the country have gone to a block scheduling
model in which classes meet for extended periods on a daily basis, so
that everyone only takes or teaches half as many courses as they would
"normally" during a given term (I've heard this model called the
"Copernican" model for some lofty reason I've now forgotten).
Theoretically, students could complete an extended sequence in a
language (or in math, English, etc.) in half the time normally required.
Advocates of the system also claim that the quality of both teaching and
learning improves in such a system simply because everyone is more
focused. The downside, so I've heard, is that our old nemesis, namely
scheduling, often interferes with well articulated sequences, in part
because one of the hidden agendas behind the system is often to increase
the number of apparent course offerings without the nasty expense and
bother of increasing staff.

Jim Torbert


96/01 From-> "Danette Mora @ Laguna Creek High School" <>
Subject: Block scheduling

We here at Laguna Creek High School in Elk Grove, California have a VERY
unique and challenging block schedule. Our block classes meet every day
for 2hrs. and 20 min. for 6 weeks. That is the equivalent of a
traditional semester. We do not meet with our students again until the
spring (12 weeks later). We have found that the key to a block schedule
is VARIETY. Our school is only in its second year so the block's success
is still to be determined. We've adjusted (it's A LOT of work) but don't
know if we completely agree with it. Comments?

Danette Mora


96/02 From-> Michele Whaley <>
Subject: Re: teaching FL in a block 4 schedule

>Is there anyone out there who has experience in a block schedule which
>combines 90 minute classes for a semester with some 45 minute classes
>for a full year?? or 90 minute classes every other day for the year? It
>seems that this schedule might be the best of both worlds...

The alternative School-Within-a-School at East High is trying just that
this year, and although I am not a part of the program, I watch it daily
(with envious eyes).

The kids have three blocks. The first one is a double-length period. The
second one is two half periods, allowing them to take music, language,
and other electives from the part of the school not following the block
schedule. The third block is again a double-length period. Teachers in
the program have prep time during the middle half-periods.

After some initial struggles, the kids and teachers all seem to love it.
Their day is less ratty-in-a-cage, and everyone involved likes the extra
time for getting to know one another (not to mention the subject areas).
The staff say that they don't ever want to go back to a traditional
schedule, and it is interesting to note that the percentage of A grades
went up quite a bit as a result of intensified learning combined with
fewer areas.

I am now hoping that our school decides to go to a four-block system,
because students could have eight credits in a given school year (we
consider one year-long class to be one credit). That would open up room
for a lot more electives, but still leave a more relaxed schedule.

The only question I have for experienced four-blockers is how teacher
planning time works. The schedule I am researching means that students
would take four year-long courses over a semester. Now, when we have six
periods, only one-sixth of the teachers are planning during any period.
It seems that the four-block schedule would mean that one-quarter of the
teachers would be planning at any one time, and that could mean enormous
class sizes. Any ideas?



96/02 From-> Don Hennig <>
Subject: Re: teaching FL in a block 4 schedule

Adena High School has been on block scheduling for three years. We are a
small rural high school in Frankfort, Ohio. I teach Spanish and am the
only foreign language. There are 375 students in our high school. We are
actually on a trimester system. The students have 3 - 2 hour blocks a
day. Yes 2 hour blocks. There is a 10 minute break between 1st and 2nd
block. We love it! I hope never to have to teach in the Carnegie system

Scheduling is the most important factor. My schedule is:

Ist trimester: 2 Spanish II classes
2nd trimester: 1 Spanish III-IV class and 1 Spanish I class 3rd
trimester: 2 Spanish I classes.

It is important to schedule the Spanish I classes at the end of the year
if possible. My Spanish III and IV classes have no trouble warming up in
a couple of days.

Next year it will be a little different because I wanted to separate Sp.
III and IV for obvious reasons - I was pulling my hair out. I have 24 in
Sp. III and only 6 (excellent) students in IV. I have kept them mostly in
literature and they do well working alone and having intense workouts
several times a week while SP. III is doing group work. Spanish IV
students also have a schedule set up to pair teach in our grade school.
Both high school students and elementary students love that. Next year
Sp. III will be for 1 hour but for two consecutive trimesters, likewise
Sp. IV. So they will be separate! Spanish IV will probably remain small
because if seniors finish their core classes they may leave at
12:15.Also we have a great program with post-secondary options with a
nearby branch of Ohio University which a lot of juniors and seniors take
advantage of.

Be prepared at first for a lot of extensive lesson plans. Our faculty
had several workshops in Cooperative Educative education. Plus I took a
great workshop in Columbus, Ohio, presented by a Dr. Jack Denny called
'Using Cooperative Learning To Strengthen Foreign Language Achievement'.
The Bureau of Education & Research in Bellevue, Wash. sponsored it.
Block-scheduling is not for the 'sage on the stage' obviously. Kids go
nuts if they can't have a break(so do I). Peer tutoring, cooperative
group, pairs - most of the things foreign language teachers already do!

I would be happy to answer any questions about our schedule and I would
love to hear from other teachers on the trimester system.

Sinceremente, Ila Hennig


96/09 From-> Janel Brennan <>
Subject: Re: block experiment


Our school just started a type of block scheduling w/ 78 min classes and
a 7 day rotation. There are 10 min between classes (we have 2 buildings)
and the kids get out 5 min early to get to their lockers and then to the
bus by 2:15.

The schedule goes like this:

1 5 2 6 3 7 4
2 6 3 7 4 1 5
3 7 4 1 5 2 6
4 1 5 2 6 3 7

The teachers each get a 78 min planning period each day. Mine happens to
be 2 & 6. On the day when you have 2 planning periods, you must do
either am, pm, or lunch duties.

Everyone that I've talked to in the school loves this schedule. It is so
much more relaxing for teachers. The hardest thing I've had to do is
figure out when I'm going to see the next class in order to get any
copies made that I need (organization!), but that's it. (I have a huge
calendar on my wall for assignments). I just wonder how much our
students will retain with this schedule and if learning will actually
improve. After all, that is the most important thing! The only thing
that the kids don't like is going to the classes of the teachers that
like to lecture for 78 min.

I'd be interested in hearing from other teachers who have this similar
schedule of extended periods. Keep those great extended period activity
ideas coming! :)

Janel Brennan


96/09 From-> Paul Lanciaux <>
Subject: 4x4 block = 3+2 or 3+3??

Our school is also heading to a block schedule for next year. Although
we were ready to go for it this year, we have been stalled for various
reasons and will most probably start a straight 4x4 next year. My
question: our administrative proposal suggests 3 classes and 1 prep one
semester and 3 classes and 1 prep the opposite semester. Several
teachers feel that we should have 3 classes and 1 prep one semester and
2 classes, 1 prep and 1 duty the opposite semester - keeping in line
with the teacher load of 5 class per year. Did any of you who are
presently in a 4x4 schedule have to confront this problem and if so, how
was it resolved?

Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Merci, gracias, danke...

Paul Lanciaux


96/09 From-> Melissa Badger <>
Subject: Re: block schedules

>Is it normal that in a block schedule timetable that teachers get at
>least one planning block per day?

It depends on the school. At my school, teachers get one planning block
per day. At another school in the area on the block schedule, teachers
only get a planning block every other day. They are required to do
supervisory duty in place of having a planning period.

Melissa Badger


96/09 From-> Janel Brennan <>
Subject: Re: block schedules

Katherine Munro wrote:

>Is it normal that in a block schedule timetable that teachers get at
>least one planning block per day?

I'm on an alternating block schedule and we get a 78 min planning
everyday. It's great! You can actually get something accomplished. I am
taking less work home now more than ever!

- Janel Brennan


96/09 From-> Denise Paige Way <4Ways@InfoAve.Net>
Subject: Re: block schedules

I hope Paul Garcia truly appreciates his schedule because it is not at
all typical of other teachers' schedules under block in my region. I
have a planning period of 95 minutes every other day, and I teach 6
classes; one is an every-day class of 50 minutes, and the other 6 are
every-other-day classes (A/B) for 95 minutes. It's grueling!!! Those
teachers complaining about teaching 6 classes in the 4 X 4 don't know
how great they've got it with a planning period every day! I would love
that! I have 4 preps--French I, II, III, and IV--but I really have 5, as
I mentioned in a previous post, because my every-day class (French II)
is pulling so far ahead of my every-other-day French II.

Some of you should really count your blessings. I am strongly
considering leaving secondary ed this year as a result of the blind cult
worship to block scheduling in my district (My apologies to cults!).

Denise Paige Way


96/09 From-> Stephanie Powell <>
Subject: Re: 4x4 block = 3+2 or 3+3??

We are teaching 3 out of 4 classes each semester and our class sizes are
still high. Almost all classes have 32-39 students with PE carrying
40-42 and music 65+. It seems that teaching only 5 preps would increase
your class load.



96/10 From-> Jeena Huntzinger <>
Subject: Re: block schedules & lang teaching

We are on a block schedule with 86 minute class periods four days a

Monday is all 8 classes of 43 minutes each. Tuesday/Thursday is Periods
1,3,5,7 and Wednesday/Friday is 2,4,6,8. We see our International
Studies "majors" only 3 days a week in some cases. I must mention we are
a public high school magnet program, and our IS majors take geography,
history, literature and political economics classes in addition to their
foreign language. We dislike intensely the lack of daily continuity, but
find that we can concentrate more on reinforcing concepts during our

Jeena Huntzinger


96/11 From-> Cynthia Walker Costilla <>
Subject: Re: block scheduling

Brenda, our block is eight classes -- four one day and four the next.
Classes are 95 minutes each. In a six weeks we meet each class either 14
or 15 times. This is our first year. I like it a lot. The only negative
I've noticed so far is that the pacing is a bit fast now because we lost
some face-to-face time, and also the "bonding" process with the kids
takes quite a bit longer -- but it DOES finally happen!

Athletics and band are double-blocked -- that is, they meet 4th and 8th
(the last period each day).



96/12 From-> Cheryl Adams <>
Subject: creative 6-period semester schedule at jr high / middle school level

Our junior high in Vancouver, WA is in the middle of deciding what
schedule to go to next year.

A large percentage of teachers want to go to block schedule -- such as a
4 period day--

However, 65% of our kids are in music, and so in order to keep a viable
FL program, we need to choose a schedule that allows kids more than one
elective per trimester or semester.

Sehome H.S. in Bellingham (where I student taught) uses a schedule where
all 6 classes meet on Monday,
3 classes meet on Tuesday
3 classes meet on Wednesday,
and all 6 meet R & F

This schedule was brought up at a meeting of a scheduling committee, and
the response was "This sounds good, but is it appropriate for a junior
high / middle school."

Cheryl Adams


96/12 From-> Pamela Knapp <>
Subject: elementary programs; block scheduling

* our school is in its second year of Block Scheduling (4X4 intensive
semester schedule.) We have made recommendations for changes for next
year (including having the first level of the language and some ninth
grade math courses offered in the traditional 45 minute year-long
schedule), and are exploring other options. Our staff does not want to
go to the 4X4 alternating day schedule, so one teacher has presented a
trimester schedule which appeals to me. Are any of you using a schedule
like this? Apparently, teachers teach 4 of 5 72 minute classes each day
for two trimesters, so we gain 30 days teaching time. The plan calls for
early dismissal for students (1:00 p.m. as opposed to 2:30 p.m.) on
Wednesdays to give teachers more prep time, but we know this will not be
approved here. I'd love to hear from any schools using a similar

Pamela Knapp


96/12 From-> Dee Friel <>
Subject: Re: elementary programs; block scheduling

Our school is on a 10-block schedule. Students have five classes one day
and five different classes the next. Each class period is about 75
minutes. Teachers teach for four periods and have one plan time per day.

This works VERY well for us. I have been able to expand my program from
Spanish I (two sections) and II (one section) to also include Spanish 3
and another section of Spanish I. Several other teachers have expanded
their programs as well. History has added a Native American course and a
Vietnam War era class.

I want you to know that I set out to hate this plan no matter what. Now,
I wouldn't go back with a major fight! I would be glad to discuss this
plan with you if you have additional questions.

Dee Friel


97/01 From-> Dee Friel <>
Subject: Re: NEW

The 5 x 5 or 10 block system works like the 4 x 4 or 8 block method, but
we have 5 classes one day and 5 other classes the next. During a typical
day, I teach 4 classes and have 1 prep period. Classtime/prep time is
about 75 minutes. Students don't get nearly as bored as with the 90
minute classes and teachers aren't as frustrated. Also, working in a
small school district, it keeps more peace between elementary and high
school staff when planning time is a little more equitable (trying
comparing 90 minutes of prep time to only 30-45 minutes -- if the
elementary staff is lucky).

In two weeks, I have my students for five periods (once every other
We can do extended activities or projects without having too much time
(often found in 4 x 4 or 90 minute periods). I can break up homework
review, new material, practice, extended activities, homework time
(which my students often complain they don't get much of -- I tell them
that is why it's called HOMEwork), and projects. We can do "textbook
stuff" and still have time to learn a Christmas song. We can do grammar
reviews or verb conjugations and then work on bark paintings.

I really thought I would hate this schedule. Now, I would protest if we
went back to the old method. It has cut down on the number of classes I
teach per day (we were on the old 7 class schedule), but at the same
time, because students have to take 10 classes (no study halls are
offered), students can now take courses they wouldn't have been able to
fit into their schedules before. It has increased enrollment in foreign
language, business technology, home ec (FACS or whatever it is called
today -- they keep changing the name!), music, speech and drama,
industrial arts and our vocational agriculture program (which was new
to our curriculum [yes, we are a small farming community and it is
different not to have ag, so we added it] just last year). Many students
would only take the one or two credits required and then take the math,
science, English and history they had to have.

This program has resulted in a change in the number of credits needed
for graduation and for the honor's diploma. Overall, it has helped many
students become more well-rounded in their education and opened many
opportunities they never realized were available.

Dee Friel


97/01 From-> Dee Friel <>
Subject: Re: Block scheduling

I would highly recommend the 5 x 5 (10) block rather than the 4 x 4 (8)
block. On the 10 block, the students have 10 classes. At our school
there are no study halls (we have found that students don't usually use
them, so . . . ). The students have 5 classes one day and 5 the next. I
have found that the block schedule has NO effect on retention. The only
thing that affects student retention is the student -- how well and how
much does he/she study? Are his/her study habits very good? Those who
have good study habits do fine, and those who don't . . . well, it is
obvious, and that would be true with or without the block schedule.

The reason I like the block is that I can offer more sections of Spanish
(I AM the FL dept. -- we are a small school). Before, I would have
taught two sections of English II, two sections of Spanish I, and one
section of Spanish II and then I would have to choose between Spanish 3
or jr. high Spanish. This way I have two sections of English II, two
sections of Spanish I, two sections of Spanish II, Spanish 3 and Jr.
High Spanish.

Yes, it expanded my program. Yes, I have a few more students. BUT it has
increased my program (and helps ensure job security), increased FL
awareness school wide (I also teach an elementary program through our
enrichment summer school -- many elementary students take it because a
big brother or sister took it in high school), and students who wouldn't
have taken it before are working it into their schedules.

My husband teaches in a district where there is a 4 x 4 block at the
high school. The high school teachers get 90 minutes of prep time EVERY

They teach only 3 classes (and if you ask the students, they will tell
you that they get pretty bored in most 90 minute periods). The
elementary teachers, however, are lucky if they get 30 minutes a day. My
husband (a 6th grade teacher) doesn't even get a plan time on Fridays.
There are many hard feelings between the elementary and high school
staff over this issue. If there were only 75 minute periods, it would be
a little better.

Block scheduling does allow time for extended activities, cultural info,
etc. that is sometimes omitted during a 45-50 minute class "because
there's just not enough time". I like the 5 x 5, but I don't think I
would care for the 4 x 4. I already notice some kids getting "ancy"
after the usual 50 minutes (and we have done this for 3 years). How can
we expect to hold their full attention for 75 minutes when they have
grown up on 7-10 minute doses of TV followed by a commercial. There are
no commercials, but if needed, we take a little break to stretch, get a
drink, etc.

Consider this 5 x 5 program. It has allowed kids who are on a "tight"
schedule to include some of the "FUN" classes that they could not have
otherwise taken because they were too busy trying to get in all credits
necessary for honors (college prep) diploma. The honors diploma didn't
allow for many electives, but now it does. Many students are happier.

Although we don't have study hall, junior and senior students may be a
teacher's aide or a library aide for one period. When there isn't
anything for them to do, they can work on assignments. Many teachers
also allow about 10 minutes at the end of the period for students to get
started on their work. I don't give them much time because less than
half of the students use it, and they know I have a use-it-or-lose-it
policy. They will work only if they know they have to (well, some of
them anyway -- others are dream students and would work all period).

I hope this helps. If you have any questions, please e-mail me off-list.
If your administration would like to talk to my principal about this 5 x
5 program, I can give you his e-mail address as well.

Dee Friel


97/01 From-> Dee Friel <>
Subject: Re: Block scheduling

In our area, the schools who are on the block usually use the
alternating day method. I have never encountered the semester only
situation. One of our goals was to start getting students used to
college courses which often meet on alternating days (M-W-F or T-TH).

I guess every school has its own theory as to how the block should
operate and what would be best for students and teachers. I would hate
90 minutes every day with the same three groups. I think it would be
boring -- for me and for them.

I just asked my Spanish II class how they would like 4 classes one
semester and 4 the next. They said they would hate it. Reasons they
gave: not enough variety, could be boring, what happens if you don't
like a teacher, etc. They really like our 5 x 5 method. I think our
teachers and students are happier with it than with any other variety of
the block scheduling I have heard of.

Dee Friel


97/03 From->
Subject: Alternative to Block Scheduling

I have been reading with interest all the posts on block scheduling, and
finally decided I would toss into the mix the schedule we have been
teaching with for about 5-6 years. We have a rotating schedule, where
only 6 of the 7 classes meet daily, with 1 class rotating out. We have
had several varieties of the rotating schedule, because we, too, have to
consider the fact that we (Upper School) share fine arts teachers with
the Middle School and other factors. I am in a private Christian school
(K-12), but I think many of the same considerations still apply. We have
had many flavors of this schedule, but I will type out the one we
started with and then give some variations, including the one we have
now. By the way, the Middle School (5-8) has their own rotation, because
their classes only meet for 45 min. each. The Lower School (K-4) has a
traditional schedule.

8-8:55 1 7 6 5 4
9-9:55 2 1 7 6 5
10-10:20 Announce. Chapel Chapel Advisory/Class Mtg. Chapel
10:25-11:20 3 2 1 7 6
11:25-12:20 4 3 2 1 7
12:25-1:15 5 4 3 2 12:25-12:55 Lunch
1:15-1:45 Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
1-1:40-Chapel or
1:50-2:45 6 5 4 3 Performance
2:50-3:20 Back Work Back Wk. Back Wk. Back Wk.

Dept. Mtg./etc

As you can see, each class only meets 4 times a week for 55 min. each.
We have felt that we suffer by comparison with schools who have class 5
times a week for 55 min. a day, in that we can't cover near the quantity
of information. In fact, I did a rough calculation, & figured out that
when you take into account the "lost day" each week, at the end of 4
years of language, the students will only have the equivalent of 3 years
2 1/2 months of Spanish or French.

On the positive side, students have a night off from homework for each
class 1 night a week. They have only 6 classes a day to prepare for,
which is a plus in our rigorous program. Teachers like the fact that you
have one less class to teach, at least, a day. In fact, some days you
might have 2 less, depending on which periods you teach. The variety is
also nice, because you don't see the students at the same time everyday,
like at 8:00 or before or after lunch. The Back Work period is for
students to go to any teacher for extra help, to take make ups, etc.,
but they must stay at school.

Unfortunately, though, for many students it became a social time.
However, that's their choice in how they use their time. If a teacher
does not have any students in there, it's extra planning time! Our late
lunch :-( was because we shared a cafeteria with the Lower & Middle
Schools & we got last pick! It was a killer eating that late! We (&
The kids) love the kids getting out early every Friday!! That's when we
have meetings. Some Fridays it's all school Fac. mtgs., some it's indiv.
school fac. mtgs., some it's Dept. Mtgs., some it's that plus Grade
level mtgs., & some days we have Seminars for the entire staff. That
means NO before or after school faculty meetings -- yea!

You can rotate the periods in many different ways. Last year, because of
athletic & music considerations, the first hour M-Th was always period 1
& then the others rotated normally around it. It was terrible for those
who taught first hour. This is how it looked:

M T W Th F

1 1 1 1 4
2 7 6 5 5
Announ. Chap. Chap. Advis. Chap.
3 2 7 6 6
4 3 2 7 7
5 4 3 2 12:20-12:55-Lun.
Lun Lun. Lun. Lun. 1-1:40-Chap/Perform.
6 5 4 3 2-3:30-Fac. Mtgs.,
B.W. B.W. B.W. B.W.

Finally, this year we changed it yet again, because we built & opened
our own Upper School building, but we still have to share Fine Arts
staff, so the first 2 classes rotate on their own & then the others
rotate under that.

It's confusing, but it does work to accommodate the Fine Arts problem. We
also wanted to have a break in between every 2 classes, & because our
kids have to walk to other buildings to go to the Fine Arts classes, we
made a 10 min. passing period between classes that are back to back & 5
min. when they're going to Chapel, Lunch, etc. We LOVE the 10 min.
passing periods!

We also moved the Back Work up to the last 10 minutes of Lunch. That
gives us more flexibility to schedule other things then, as well, such
as taking Advisees out to lunch, club meetings, etc. Also, Back Work at
the end of the day was pretty much of a zoo. Now, the kids can take
advantage of the Back Work or not, as they choose. But, many of them do
use it to study or prepare for their afternoon classes. Here's the
current schedule -- whew!!

M T W Th F
8-8:55 1 2 1 2 4
9:05-10 2 1 2 1 5
10:05-10:25 Announce. Chapel Chapel Advisory Chapel
10:30-11:25 3 7 6 5 6
11:35-12:30 4 3 7 6 7
12:30-1 Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
1-1:25 Back Wk. Back Wk. Back Wk. Back Wk.
1:30-2:25 5 4 3 7
2:35-3:30 6 5 4 3

It really is nice not having more than 2 classes in a row for both the
teachers & the kids. The biggest hazard is forgetting when you have a
class!!! And, it's happened to even the most well-organized teacher!
Anyhow, this is just another idea of creative scheduling, it if helps
anyone. We may drop the Back Work time. We're evaluating it right now,
but the absolute best thing about it is providing time for makeups.
Teachers can also REQUIRE students to be at Back Work for them if their
grades slip too low, & if the student misses it, it is considered
skipping class. One other potential problem is that if you miss too many
of the same day: ex: Monday holidays when period 7 doesn't meet, that
class can get behind the others if you teach more than 1 section of that

What's really nice is that each teacher's number of hours teaching load
is less, & I think the stress level is better because of it. Most of our
teachers teach 4 classes, although some of them teach 5 for extra pay,
so you can see that the prep time is better. Nearly all teachers have
more than 1 prep, & especially the For. Lang. teachers have at least 2
preps each & usually more (because of having Honors & Regular levels in

We all thought our Principal had lost his mind when he first told us
about it!! I think most teachers really like it, but the For. Lang. &
Math people think it hurts their programs the most, because you need the
contact time with the kids in class.

Linda Gump


97/04 From-> Judith Shivik <>
Subject: Block Scheduling

My school is in its third year of what we call modified block. Freshmen
and sophomore classes meet daily for 45 minutes. Junior and senior class
meet every other day of six day cycle.

Result for those of us teaching both kinds of classes has been
interesting. Most have come to prefer the ninety minute classes. The
shorter classes seem frustratingly short and ineffective.

I believe that we will be switching to block - all 90s by the Fall of

Judy Shivik


97/05 From-> TODD B BOWEN <>
Subject: Re: block scheduling

Next year, we will be in a hybrid schedule of a block 4 program (90 min
periods, four classes a day, a 'year' class becomes a 'semester') and a
traditional six period (55 min) day. Most classes will be in both models
as long as our enrollment figures support multiple sections of a course.
In FL, we'll be split almost equally between both types of schedules.
Some students will be pure block, some pure traditional, some hybrid.
The same exists for teachers. The situation was created due to a
compromise that the superintendent advocated to please parents who did
not wish both high schools in our district to be on block schedules. My
faculty agreed to this triple schedule in order to move forward with our
plans on more flexible use of time. We have submitted a proposal for
funding to create a formal study comparing the two systems across the

Todd Bowen


97/05 From-> Cathy Quinn <>
Subject: Re: Trimester vs. Block

We have just dumped the trimester for the traditional semester system.
The majority of the staff loved the trimester but the math and foreign
language department believe it isn't good for our academic subjects. I
believe it is better to have students on a regular basis year long than
to have divided chunks of time over the years. The good students still
do well but the weak ones suffer from lack of continuity and trying to
teach too much too fast.



97/05 From-> Richard Lee <>
Subject: Re: Trimester vs. Block

I can't really see how a trimester vs. semester calendar would make a
whole lot of difference, unless it allowed kids who failed to retake the
class immediately without waiting out a full year. This would require a
significant number of students to support such a rotating schedule. The
primary questions posed in the block vs. traditional schedule are:
1. What is the effect of the extended hiatus between classes?
2. Does the extended period compensate for loss of one half of the class sessions?
3. Can students use the extra time in such a way that produces real  learning, or is there some natural limit?
4. Do the "alternate" activities produce the same quality of learning as traditional teaching methods?

Personally, I believe that it would make no difference if we divided the
school year into "quadramesters" or "quintamesters", as long as we can
maintain daily contact with the kids so that we aren't putting so many
eggs in one basket, which seem to get dropped and smashed on the
alternate days when there is no class.


97/06 From->         Mike Joyce <>
Subject:      Re: AB block variations?

We don't have block scheduling but we do have 8 periods in a 7 period
day and this might work for you.

We like it.

We have A - H Periods.

H rotates through the schedule so
Day 1 is H B C D E F G
Day 2 is A H C D E F G
Day 3 is A B H D E F G
and   Day 8 is A B C D E F G (no H)

It is good for the students as it gives them a chance to take an extra
course or whatever.

And it is good for teachers as they actually have more preparation

And the variety in the schedule is just enough to keep things
interesting but not too confusing.

Mike Joyce


97/10 From-> Dee Friel <>
Subject: Intro to 10 block

I would like to know if anyone else out there is on a 10 block or knows
anyone else who is. Someone who was writing or helping write a book
about block scheduling said that of all the people interviewed around
the country, I was the only one who mentioned 10 block. I feel like the
Lone Ranger on this.

I tried to very positive about the 10 block, because I really do like
it. The only draw back is that now I have 2 more classes to teach -- 2
more preps, about 40 more kids, 40 more papers, 40 more grades, etc.
etc. but we aren't paid any more. Of course, we are a VERY SMALL school,
so that is one reason, but I know that many schools have some sort of
compensation plan. I was wondering what other schools on the block offer
in the way of compensation for such a program -- or are we the only ones
who use 10 block?

Dee Friel


97/10 From-> Dee Friel <>
Subject: Re: Intro to 10 block

We have 5 periods, about 70 minutes each with a 25 minute study period
at the end of each day. On Red Days, I teach Spanish I, Prep period,
English I, English I, and Spanish I followed by study hall. On Black
Days (red and black are school colors) I teach 7th grade Spanish (a
semester long intro/exploratory class), Spanish II, Prep period, Spanish
II, and Spanish III followed by study hall.

I really like the 10 block in that it has expanded my program and more
students are interested in Spanish. However, I have 2 more classes to
prepare for without additional compensation. Some of our teachers have
2/3 classes at once. For example, our business teacher has 3 different
classes that she is supposed to teach at once. How that is legal and
acceptable, I don't know, but it is being done. Some of the kids are in
her classes without the necessary prerequisites as well. That really
can't be done to be effective. I have been fortunate so far in that I
have not had to teach Spanish 2 and 3 the same hour.

I also like the fact that I only see the classes every other day. I have
a group that gives me nightmares and I would probably quit teaching if I
had to deal with them EVERY day. My black day classes are wonderful
because these are the kids who WANT to be in Spanish. On Red Days, the
kids are pretty much assigned or required to take the class. Many of
them don't want to be there in the first place and they have no qualms
in telling me so.

The good thing about 10 block for students is that they have a chance to
take a wide variety of courses. Many college bound students who should
take Spanish 3 and 4 couldn't take it on the old system because they
were too busy getting just required classes. Many students couldn't take
art, music, computers, etc. because of required courses. Now, however,
with 10 instead of 7 classes, they have 12 more classes they can take in
their high school career. This gives them greater flexibility.

The down side is that some kids can't handle 10 classes. I suggest that
they look at it as 5 -- 5 a day, but most students don't use their time
wisely enough to look at it that way. Many students procrastinate. We
have both a late homework and a test re-take policy at our school that
is extremely helpful to these estudiantes perezosos, but in the long run
they tend to use it as a crutch rather than studying and working like
they should. One of our recent graduates said that she regrets having
had late work accepted and a test re-take policy now that she is in
college. She doesn't have the work ethic and study skills that she
should have developed in high school because she knew she could use the
late work and test re-take to her advantage. Now though, it is her

I think the 10 block is more advantageous for offering a wider variety
of classes and giving students exposure to a wider variety of classes.
It is good for building and developing various programs, esp. in art,
music, FL, drama, etc. which usually suffer under the old system.

A disadvantage is more students and more class preps for the teachers --
and we do it without more compensation as well. Our FACS teacher has 13
preps with all of her semester classes. Our business teacher has to plan
sometimes for 3 different classes -- all to be taught in one period.

I truly believe that the advantages outweigh the down side, but when it
is a small school and everyone has to serve on all the committees and
sponsor everything as well, it is easy to get that burnt out feeling. In
a larger school where the responsibilities can be spread out a little
more, it might be better. We have our state review (MSIP) this year as
well, so we are all burning the midnight oil. I just wonder, come next
spring, how many will stay and how many will look for greener pastures.
We had 5 teachers leave this year. We have 19 teachers. You can figure
the math. That is not a good sign.

Dee Friel


97/10 From-> Christy Wiatrowski <>
Subject: Re: Intro to 10 block

To anyone who is interested, I taught on a block 8 schedule last year
and loved it. I saw my kids for 90 minutes every other day. We too had
Red days and Black days. So I taught 3 classes a day. (One was a 90
minute prep which is nice) But on Black days one of my classes was a
study hall. In essence, it was still 5 core classes, just like I have
now, but they were for longer and met every other day. I really liked
it, but it was sometimes hard when you saw a group of kids on Thursday
and then didn't see them again til Monday. I found myself re-teaching
a lot! Any other comments on block scheduling?

Christy Wiatrowski


97/10 From-> Dorothy Raviele <>
Subject: Re: Intro to 10 block

Dear Dee,
Wow!!! That sounds like a killer schedule. I don't know how you can cope
with all those preps. We are pulling our hair out because we teach 6
classes, 3 a day with 1 prep period every other day. No wonder attrition
is what it is. Good luck with this year. If you survive this, you can
handle anything!!


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