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Block Scheduling

August 28, 2017
By Our Lady of Sorrows School
Education is not training for life; but it's life itself. - John Dewey

Jr. High Block Scheduling

Greetings OLSS Community!

This is the second year that our 6th - 8th grade students follow a modified block schedule. This means that some of their classes run for 40 minutes, while others run for 85 minutes. It also means that their 85 minute classes meet every other day (Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday) with a shorter period on Fridays, while their 40 minute classes meet every day of the week (with shorter class times on Friday as well).

Which classes are 85 minutes long? In general:

  • English / Language Arts / Literature
  • History
  • Math
  • Religion (Holy Mass takes the place of Religion class on Mass Days)
  • Science

What classes are 40 minutes long? In general:

  • American Sign Language (semester course for 7th grade only)
  • Art (quarter course for 6th grade only)
  • Journalism/Yearbook (year-long course for 8th grade only)
  • Music (semester course for 6th grade only)
  • Physical Education (semester course for 6th grade, year-long course for 7th & 8th grade)
  • Robotics (semester course for 7th grade only)
  • Spanish (semester course for 6th grade; semester course for 7th grade; year-long course for 8th grade)
  • Study Hall (only on Mass Days immediately after Mass for all 6th - 8th grade)
  • Technology (quarter course for 6th grade; semester course for 7th grade)

What are the benefits of modified block scheduling?

  • longer time to discuss topics in-depth & afford time for questions and critical thinking
  • longer class time lends itself to instruction with individual or group work immediately afterwards
  • longer class times mean some homework may be started in class with more immediate teacher feedback
  • hallways are a bit less crowded when Jr. High students stay in classrooms while younger students move to and from electives
  • students have less subjects to focus on each day, while still having the time needed to explore and master each subject per week

What are the challenges of modified block scheduling?

  • when students are absent they may miss more material (the equivalent of two normal teaching periods for each block missed)
  • extended classes are harder on young adolescents if no movement or variation is introduced
  • 6th graders need additional assistance adjusting to a block schedule coming from a self-contained classroom experience in 5th grade

To help address the challenges, students all have a 15-minute homeroom period with the same teacher every day. This teacher can help with scheduling, questions, or just give students a few moments at the beginning of the day to pray, get their bearings, and take care of any last minute needs before beginning first period. Every Mass day they have an extended advisory period / study hall time with their homeroom teacher as well. Especially for 6th grade, these points of contact help ground them and give them the tools needed to begin to navigate their new schedule. Most teachers also introduce a short break or stretch time in their block periods, or plan for group work to help give students a chance to move around, collaborate, and burn off a bit of energy.

Our prayer is that participating in a modified block schedule will help our Jr. High students prepare for High School and beyond as we challenge them to rise and become part of our tradition of excellence centered on Jesus Christ.

Blessings & Peace,
Hugo De La Rosa III

Cougar Chronicle by 8th Grade