Streamline Procedures in Your Block-Schedule Class
Implement time-saving procedures to help your students make the most of their longer class period.
By Dawn Dodson
When the dismissal bell rings and your class hurries out the door, you ask yourself, “Where did the time go?” The fast-paced nature of traditional scheduling can often leave you feeling like there just isn't enough time. More and more schools are solving this problem by turning to block scheduling. Block scheduling affords teachers additional instruction time; time for more in-depth science labs, time to thoroughly explore a concept, and time to fully delve into data. The following article offers some ideas for how to organize your instructional time and establish classroom procedures that utilize a block class to its full potential. If you have taught on a block schedule, share your ideas with the Lesson Planet Community.
Effective Time Management Allows You to Reach All Learning Styles
With block scheduling, more time also means more planning. The time available allows for multiple learning activities in each class period. This means you can potentially reach all learning styles in one day. To accomplish this, try planning for learning stations, workshop times, literature circles and discussion groups, as well as independent and whole-class instruction. Dividing the block of time into sections for various activities can help focus learners on the objectives for each activity. My sixth-grade language arts class is divided into three sections:
- Vocabulary study
Oftentimes, the reading and writing are interwoven. However, a specific writing skill or process may be introduced, reviewed, or practiced based on the reading topic or novel study. During class novel studies, one block class a week is devoted to literature circles that encompass all language skills. Having the block schedule not only allows for quality literature circles, but also time for reflection time as a wrap-up to the discussion. Think about your objective, and then schedule appropriate activities. Once you get the hang of the planning, I think you will like the thorough, less-hurried pace.
Eliminate Wasted Time by Establishing Class Procedures
Depending upon the type of block schedule your school follows, the procedures for your class will need to maximize class time. Procedures are easier to establish in block classes that meet every day. Classes that only meet a day or two a week will likely need more reinforcement and/or more flexibility. For instance, you may have different procedures for your Tuesday class than you do for the same class on Thursdays. Think about what your students need to do (and be responsible for) each class period. In my own classroom, literature circle blocks include procedures like having students move desks, retrieve and return group materials. We also vary how and when students respond to a lesson. After a couple of literature circles, the class runs smoothly and the majority of our time is spent on the text and group interaction with little time spent on the logistics. Here are some ideas for procedures to include in your own block class:
- Where and how to gather special class materials
- Where to turn in completed work
- How to use classroom resources
- How to interact and behave within a working group
- How to clean up from learning activities
- Classroom/desk set up (small groups, circle, pairs, etc.)
If you organize and plan your class procedures well, you will find that block scheduling allows for a rich, diverse, and positive learning environment .