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Scheduling Conflict

Teachers and students weigh costs and benefits of block scheduling versus other scheduling formats

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Students in Redondo Unified School District have experienced stack schedule, which is all classes in one day, and block schedule, which is three classes a day for a longer period of time. Although these are the most common types of schedules for high schools, there are a variety of others.

In block schedule, students spend more time with their teachers in each day, which Dargen believes lets students better get involved during class.

“It creates more opportunities to spend time collaborating and doing student-centered instruction, so there’s less telling and more engagement.” Dargen said.

English teacher Angie Yi has taught for seven years in block schedule at RUHS and has taught in stack schedules before that.

“I don’t think one is better than the other, it just comes down to personal preference and what the teacher is used to. I grew up with a traditional schedule and I taught at schools where we had traditional scheduling so prefer that.” Yi said.

Yi believes that stack schedule is beneficial in that it allows students to practice their skills daily.

“I feel more organized and I like the immediate turnaround of the kids coming back and moving forward with what we finished the day before,” Yi said. “There also isn’t as much prepping that I need to do before class because the students would have just had me the day before.”

As an English teacher, Yi does not feel as though she needs block schedule like other teachers claim to.

“I’m aware that some teachers prefer the block, like for labs, and I completely respect that,” Yi said. “I feel like I have a lot more room to be creative with my lessons and transitioning between things like creative activities to direct instruction is pretty easy to do in English. I didn’t necessarily need anything to change but I did enjoy having the traditional schedule when I had it.”

A different, non-traditional format of scheduling is the 4 by 4, where each school day has four block periods, but students typically only take four classes per semester. However, there are some classes, like APs, languages, and PE that go all year.

Benefits of this type of schedule are that students can retake courses that they failed in the next semester, they can take more classes they are interested in, and more credits are earned.

Additionally, teachers have longer and more prep periods, which decreases their work and planning. Since teachers each have six classes, there does not need to be as many teachers at school as opposed to other schedules where teachers have five classes at the most.

“I’ve heard of it but I’ve never been a part of it. It sounds fine and I’m sure it’s good for students who want to take more classes,” Yi said. “However, I think that especially in high school kids need more time to practice their skills so I think that a half a year might be too short.”

Another type of an eight-class schedule is that used by Newport Harbor High School, which is basically stacked schedule but with eight classes. Ferron believes that there would not be an adequate amount of time for eight classes a year.

The two high schools in Palos Verdes both have different schedules. Palos Verdes High School uses block schedule and Peninsula Palos Verdes High School does stacked.

With block schedule at RUHS, teachers like that they can fit more into a class period.

“In traditional there have been times where I felt like I had to finish something really quickly before the bell rang, but in a block schedule, if I see that a certain group of students are falling behind then it’s easier for me to slow it down for everyone,” Yi said. “I do like that I can fit in more within that class period and I think that the kids like only having three classes a day so that they feel less stressed. A minor drawback of block would be just not seeing them every day to reinforce skills.”

RUHS has not always been on block schedule, but there has been overwhelming support from teachers, students and parents since it was changed from stack schedule in 1996.

“A lot of the positives were about managing time. There is more flexibility, less stress and less homework pressure on students,” Assistant Principal Bill Dargen said.

 

AP European History teacher Julie Ferron believes that block schedule is considerably better for Advanced Placement classes than stack schedule.

“It allows us to give tests that are more accurate and more like the tests they’ll have on the real AP exam, whereas 50 minute class periods did not allow that at all.” Ferron said.

The process of introducing different schedules began in Spring of 1996 when a group of teachers from every major department formed a committee called the Block Schedule Task Force and moved to try it out.

“We felt like as soon as you were getting into a lesson the bell rang and we didn’t have time to do long lessons, good lab work, effective tests for AP classes and different teaching activities.” Ferron said.

Additionally, Ferron and the other teachers believed that block schedule would make transitioning into using more technology easier.

“We were just starting to introduce technology at the time and we thought it would give us some more time for these new teaching strategies, engaging students and going into the curriculum more thoroughly.” Ferron said.

Ferron and the committee went through a long process including visiting other schools with different types of block schedules, presenting their ideas with the faculty and getting votes. After a year of trying out block schedule, an “overwhelming majority” of the staff voted to stick with it.

“It really has limited the stress and the assembly line teaching we felt like we were going through and changed how people teach and how students learn,” Ferron said. “It lengthened our lunch period and teachers were so excited about block schedule that they voted to work eight minutes extra a day on their contract to make it less stressful.”

 

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Analise Asaro, News Editor
I was a writer my first 2 years of Journalism and now I’m a news editor. Outside of school I play soccer and do Mock Trial.
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