New Year, New Students

Today was my first day back with the students. The unique situation in my county is that we are on the block schedule. That means I have all new students...new faces and names to remember, new parents to get to know.

I have mixed feelings about the block schedule. On the one hand, we get a fresh start each semester. On the other, we get a fresh start each semester.

My school runs on a block schedule, which has both advantages and disadvantages. I share both viewpoints in this post, but I'd love to have you weigh in on whether you think block scheduling is good or bad for students!

Much has been written about the block schedule, and many systems have tried and subsequently abandoned it. Here's a short pros and cons article about both the block and traditional scheduling.

And the block schedule has many pitfalls. Think about it--if you're on a 4/4 schedule (4 courses one semester, and a different 4 the next), like we are, then students could feasibly go an entire year without an English or a math class--not a good thing for even the brightest of students. Imagine the implications for struggling ones.

But it also enables our county to offer students an amazing opportunity--the option for dual enrollment at the local charter school. Students who take advantage of this can graduate from high school with certification to be a medical or dental assistant, or a welder. They can take courses in graphic art, video game design, or work-based learning--they can even take a course for future educators, complete with an internship.

Logistically, this particular charter model would not work without the block schedule. Students have to commute between the charter and their base high school daily. Even as a teacher of academic subjects, I see the benefits of offering students real-world opportunities while they are still in high school. Imagine being able to work your way through college as a dental assistant (a far cry from the waitress I was), or upon high school graduation, being equipped to begin your career as a mechanic? Here's an article about the success of the program.

The block schedule is not perfect, but I can't think of a better way for my county to offer the charter school opportunity to our students. Can you? Leave a comment below, and let me know!

As far as my freebie find for this week...well...it's really good! I won't be using it in my world history or my sociology classes, but I will be using it with my 3rd grade son, who is struggling to learn his multiplication facts. It's a great mnemonic from Victoria Leon, "How to Teach 7 x 8 = 56":

How to Teach 7 x 8 = 56 So All Students Can Succeed
Get it Here!
And don't forget to come back next week when I discuss vocabulary and interactive notebooks in sociology!

Until Then,
Leah

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