Previously concerns with our "Block-Scheduling" have been hinted at as a potential problem. We are not alone with this concern however I think we still need to do more research and share our personal benefits and drawbacks to our current "blocks" of time. I am not referring to our "split scheduling" (that post will follow).
Excerpted form an EducationWorld article to school administrators:
"Even though more and more schools are switching to block scheduling, the approach has drawn fire from some educators and parents. Critics of block scheduling assert that the new scheduling format creates or exacerbates certain educational problems.
What will students do for 90-minute periods? critics ask. Proponents of block scheduling cite active learning as the key to keeping students engaged and learning during longer periods. But, even with a block-scheduling format, critics say, many teachers continue simply to lecture students rather than engaging them in active learning. Block scheduling in itself is no guarantee of active learning. And if active learning doesn't take place during, for example, a 90-minute class period, students may have trouble paying attention for the entire class.
Opponents of block scheduling, like the group Parents for Academic Excellence based in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, point out that student absences create problems under block scheduling. Making up missed work is always difficult. But when a student misses one day of classes under block scheduling, the student misses the equivalent of two days of instruction under the traditional system. A weeklong absence means the student misses two weeks of material. Such an absence may cause a student to fall behind to the extent that making up the work is difficult.
Teacher absences may lead to other problems, according to doubters. Under block scheduling, will a substitute teacher be qualified to teach 90-minute periods of, for example, physics?
Courses like languages or mathematics are sequential. Some critics of block scheduling point out that a student may take French I in the fall, not take French at all in the spring, go through the summer, and then take French II the following fall. At issue is how much French the student will recall after a break of several months. Advocates of block scheduling say most forgetting happens in the first few weeks after a course is taken. Yet critics point to studies that indicate greater memory loss over longer periods of time.
A practical hurdle also stands in the way of block scheduling in some school districts. A state arbitration panel in Connecticut recently ruled that Region 13, covering the towns of Durham and Middlefield, would have to pay teachers more under a proposed block schedule plan because teachers would be required to teach six different courses a year instead of five courses. The panel ruled that teachers should be compensated for added preparation time involved in an extra course, even if the teachers would teach for the same length of time. The school district still adopted block schedule after the ruling, but it reconfigured its scheduling to ensure that each teacher is responsible for only five courses. "
I found the "substitute" issue quite relevant. I t must be tough to be a substitute teacher in our school. However, we have diminished some of the problems listed in this excerpt because we have an annualized program. Personally in a project based Global Studies classroom, block scheduling works. I am not familiar with the other content areas enough to see how it poses a challenge. Are the challenges for the teacher or the student? Are there any benefits to block scheduling?