Bearing with the Block Scheduling

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Bearing with the Block Scheduling

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As soon as students found out, they were horrified: Block Scheduling. Quickly everyone was convinced doom was coming to drag students from their forty minute classes into some new tortuous ninety minute version.

Ames High is set to have a test run of block scheduling during the 2019 – 2020 school year, switching from the current template into a weekly schedule that has two days of block, as displayed in the example schedule. Late starts on Wednesdays will be eliminated, replaced with three new early dismissal days and five more days off according the Ames’s Tribune article on next year’s modified block schedule.

Questions keep arising, notably about PE classes and science labs. Will Physical Education classes only be scheduled for 45 minute periods? Will students have to sit through 180 minutes on double science days? Additionally, it’s unclear how DMACC will be implemented, or if plus period will be integrated with the new scheduling plan. These questions haven’t been answered, though for now there hasn’t been much chance to ask them.

The current late start Ames High utilizes on Wednesdays is intended as a planning period for teachers, but a majority of school staff voted to change to the new scheduling model. The Ames community, including parents and guardians, was additionally surveyed, receiving 756 results with a 50/50 split between the new schedule model and the old one.

If [the schedule] works well and it’s the best thing for kids then I’m for it. … I would be really against it if it was full block”

— Shelli Hassebrock

“If [the schedule] works well and it’s the best thing for kids then I’m for it. … I would be really against it if it was full block,” said Shelli Hassebrock, an Ames High art teacher. “I think having that elongated time through the week will be really beneficial.”

Some students felt they were never given a change to voice their opinion like everyone else, leaving them ignored and excluded from the conversation.

“I have a lot of friends in the Des Moines school district and they’ve had to adjust to it, but they’ve liked it and they’ve adjusted to it – and I think [the block schedule] will be beneficial,” said student a, an Ames High student.

Until we know more, it’s important to realize – block scheduling is not some horrific monster meant to drag students to their graves in overly long classes, it’s intended to optimize school time for teachers and students alike.

“I think that for classes like art, and CAD, and electives it will be very helpful,” said student b, another Ames High attendee.

In the nine period schedule, five days are spent in passing period each school year. Block schedules allows teachers to spend less time taking attendance or getting the class started, giving  more time to go over practice work and examples because they aren’t rushing to complete everything within a forty five minute time slot.

I have a lot of friends in the Des Moines school district and they’ve had to adjust to it, but they’ve liked it and they’ve adjusted to it – and I think [the block schedule] will be beneficial”

— Student A

“Sometimes kids aren’t used to focusing for 90 minutes and they’ll have to adjust for that, and teachers will too,” said Hassebrock.

Longer periods also help project and work focused classes, giving students more time to work without having to pack up right after they’ve gotten started. Rather then being completed in two or three days, or being pushed to lab days for necessity of time, science labs often only take one day for students to complete because of the elongated period.

“I think for a majority of the kids it’ll be great,” said Hassebrock.

While a change in the school schedule is one of the many changes coming to Ames High, it can be truly helpful if employed productively.

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