Block Schedules: Everything You Need to Know

A block schedule is a procedure whereby junior high or high school days are scheduled. Here, the typical six/seven 40-50 minute class sessions are substituted for longer period class sessions which convene few times during the week. A good example is a block schedule of 90-120 minutes, which meets only twice a week, as opposed to daily.

Block scheduling offers many benefits for both teachers and students. Teachers can more frequently take advantage of smaller group lessons. With smaller groups, it becomes easier to promote collaborative learning. As teachers see fewer students during the course of the day, they can develop closer bonds with students and thoroughly understand their individual learning needs. When students have fewer classes per day, they can focus more on their subjects. As they have fewer classes per day, it might result in less homework per day. With less daily homework, students get more time to hone their skills and pursue their interests. Different students learn best in different ways of learning. With longer class sessions, teachers get more time to work more closely with every student and address their needs. Teachers can also have longer planning periods to create their curriculum.

There’re some disadvantages of block scheduling as well. If the school implements an A/B block schedule, a student’s schedule keeps on changing daily. This might trigger a loss of continuity for their learning because they will only revisit a particular subject after a day’s delay. If students miss school for a day, they might miss more in a block schedule compared to a traditional schedule. As classes are longer in a block schedule, the day’s lesson might be like missing two lessons instead of one. As students have fewer days of each subject, the curriculum might feel sped up. This might make it hard for some students to keep up with the pace.

Block scheduling can be highly effective when utilized in the proper setting with a well-prepared teacher and the right students. However, schools need to closely monitor things such as discipline problems and test scores to identify if the schedule has any significant impact. As block schedule classes are longer than traditional periods, it might result in the loss of attention of students, leading to decreased learning. Therefore, in a block schedule, teachers should vary their instruction using different teaching techniques like whole group discussions, debates, simulations, role-plays, and other cooperative learning activities.

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