After using block schedule for several years, WHS recently switched to a seven period day.
Many staff members were adamant about switching to a seven hour day, thinking it would be beneficial for students in ways, such as retaining information better from having classes daily, students staying on task with shorter class periods, and making it easier to get caught up when you miss class. Teachers also seem to be going through lesson plans more quickly compared to previous years.
Although seeing teachers more often is nice, having seven classes daily comes with difficulties. This means, in core classes, that most assignments are due the day after they are assigned. If you don’t understand homework, there is little time before class to get help. You often hand it in with incorrect or incomplete answers, or hand it in late. In previous years, students were able to use a 45-minute advisory period to visit teachers and complete work.
Another potential benefit was that students could maintain focus for the entire class. This is true, but it seems like shortening class periods took time away from working on assignments in class, and has increased the workload students are expected to complete at home. If teachers would provide hands-on learning, students would be more inclined to participate, rather than getting bored having to sit through lectures.
This was also supposed to be helpful for students who miss class for other school activities, but has done the complete opposite. The changes in advisor base have been a huge challenge for students.
Previously, students used this time during the school day to complete assignments and late work, get help from teachers, arrange club meetings, and more. Now that it has been cut in half, there is barely enough time for anything. Once you start to fall behind, it is significantly more difficult to get caught up due to time constraints and lack of opportunities to work independently. Students have to cram all these things into a 20 minute period, that is sometimes taken away due to school assemblies or presentations.
While we realize this change was made with the students’ best interest in mind, and that there is no simple solution, we feel like things can be done to help the transition go much smoother. Teachers could adjust their late policy and deadlines on certain assignments so students have a chance to get help outside of class if necessary. Teachers should also reduce the amount of work students are expected to complete at home. They should be more understanding of students who play sports, have jobs, participate in extracurriculars, or, for many students, all of these.
Under the block schedule, students were enrolled in eight courses, and alternated daily between four, 85 minute classes on “A days” and the other half on “B days.” There was a 45 minute advisory period between first and second block every day, which students utilized for a variety of things. Now, students are enrolled in seven courses, and has each class daily for 51 minutes with a 20 minute advisory period at the end of the day. Lunch time was reduced by 7 minutes.
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