I got this email:
At my middle school we used to have a modified block where we saw the kids two out of every three days for 65 minutes. Now we have the kids for 45 minutes every day. What a difference in retention and achievement! Our kids are doing so much better, whether they’re in CI classes or traditional textbook – grammar classes.
Now the other elective teachers would like to do a modified block where we see the kids for 4 days a week with two days being blocks of 90 minutes. So on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays, we see all kids for 45 minutes, then on Tuesday we see half of our classes for 90 minutes and on Wednesday the other half of our classes for 90 minutes. Now we’re concerned about how that might affect their achievement. Would you be willing to ask the members of the blog if they’ve tried this and how it worked?
Personally, I think with TPRS it could be cool. I could do a story and a reading in the same day, or I could do a story for the first half and the “Friday” song idea that you just mentioned for the second half – something CI but highly engaging also.
Any help you could give me would be great!
My response: I did this for two years at East High School. Not bad. GREAT for reading classes. Look at my “Weekly Schedule New (2011)” in the categories list here and you will see how those W/Th 90 min. classes lend themselves to great longer reading classes. Just check that suggested schedule for organizing the three steps into a nice tight week and you’ll know what I mean. Plus, it has the whole Bloom’s taxonomy thing going, which administrators get so excited about. So, in my opinion, this schedule is almost ideal for TPRS high school classes. I don’t know about middle school. Probably not.
The Problem with CI
Jeffrey Sachs was asked what the difference between people in Norway and in the U.S. was. He responded that people in Norway are happy and
3 thoughts on “Block Schedule Question”
We have a very similar schedule: 45 mins/day for 3 days, one 90 min. block per week, and one day where each class doesn’t meet. I am still figuring out how to structure it, because the “double” rotates. I am finding the time flies by in the 45 min classes, and the timekeeper job is super important because we have been “lost” in whatever we’ve been doing (which so far has been personal “interviews” and norming the class, learning the jobs, etc). I am just starting week 3 and have not finished all the interviews, because many of them have naturally morphed into mini-stories. Probably shouldn’t have let this happen. Oh well. I think I will finish this week with that, have a Bryce-ish ” 100 questions about the class quiz” and I hope to start legit PQA next week.
Anyway, I want to keep a simple relatively predictable flow to the week, so even though the double happens on a different day for each class, I am going to try the Monday PQA/Tuesday story system. The midweek days will be reading-focused and Friday will be music/ poetry/ art day. So far (ha…only 2 Fridays in) this seems right. By Friday everyone is completely fried (heh…fry-day) so a total change from the rest of the week is nice.
I am new to the Learning Community so I realize maybe the answer is out there and I just haven’t found it but was wondering if anyone has had success with figuring out the best way to use the block schedule. We see our students for 80 minutes every other day. We have tried and tried to adapt the traditional 45 min recommended schedule but we can never seem to get the right balance and still cover everything that needs to be covered.
Tim welcome! In my own experience, and I can only speak for myself, the benefit goes to the block because when comprehensible input is the focus we want as little interruption as possible to build interesting and meaningful scenarios for our students so that we can shift their focus from the language to the message and keep it there without interruption for as long as possible, which alone brings acquisition.
I am including a link to how I structure my own classes below. It works for me. There is no one way to do comprehensible input. What works for me is to do a day of PQA to set up a story, then do the story for a day or two, then do a reading for a day or two. This flow, these three steps of TPRS, are fantastic – they are the best thing to come along ever, in my opinion.
So whether I do those three steps in five classes or two or three blocks doesn’t matter to me except to point out that I do prefer the blocks bc once you get the TPRS/CI car rolling along, it’s hard to stop. All that comprehensible input, once rolling, is very hard to just stop when you see the class ending and have to give a quiz or however you are ending class that day.
So, the question is what do you want your kids to know/be able to do? When we use comprehensible input, we definitely don’t focus on the language, but, as I said above, its meaning, and complicated lesson plans go by the by as we continue to focus on delivering to the students as much CI as possible in the form of listening and reading.
Here is a link to that schedule I mentioned (also there are more links if you do a search on block schedules here):