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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Block Scheduling Might Offer More Opportunities for Teachers to Reach Struggling Students

With English language learners and others with special needs suffering academically, schools are looking at different options to create more supportive learning environments for all students.  With this very present need to reverse the dropout rates, block scheduling as once again resurfaced as a learning environment which has the potential to meet the needs both of teachers as well as the students they serve.

Common core based lessons will offer teachers the freedom to create and deliver lessons that will see textbooks as supports in a lesson.  Teachers will drive instruction in imaginative ways which will motivate even the weakest student to succeed.

To facilitate this transformation, schools may need to revamp the present the middle/high school class schedules.  In this day and age with the demographics of American classrooms radically changing around the country, teachers will need more time to accommodate the unique language and academic needs of a student population including, but not limited to, English language learners, English only, students with special needs, gifted and talented students, etc. 

Such a mixture in a block schedule setting would provide teachers with 90-110 minute class meetings 2-3 times a week.  Yes, the classes would be longer in length, but ideally, the need for "homework" could disappear since all student assigned tasks could be completed within the time period.  This is not to say that projects would never be assigned as homework, but in this scenario, all students would be better prepared to tackle them.  There will be enough time within the class for teachers to provide additional support to those who need it (or have students, who understand the material, assist those who are unsure), allow re-takes of exams, clarify language issues for English language learners or special education students. 

Block scheduling might also ease the stress some teachers are dealing with over the unveiling of common core lessons.  As they enter in the process of re-designing lessons, they will quickly see that a "less is more" approach will be the norm.  Fiction and non-fiction will be the major focus along with writing across the curriculum.   English teachers will not be the only ones teaching writing.  Ideally, this new approach to teaching will better prepare students to not only enter colleges, but graduate from them:) 

BLOCK SCHEDULING HAS POTENTIAL TO REACH MORE STUDENTS THAN TRADITIONAL SETTINGS --offers not only descriptions of what such a schedule would look like, but also many ideas on fully engaging all students in the learning process in this new time schedule. 

Denise

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