Today’s American high schools are full of stressed-out and over-scheduled students. Many get up early for before-school workouts, sit through 6 or 7 classes each day, attend after-school practices and then start their homework at a time when they should really be heading to bed. In this active setting, there is a beneficial way to conduct schooling. That way is the use of block scheduling, which allows for more to be accomplished at school and less to be done at home.
Block scheduling is the norm in colleges, but is much less prevalent in high schools. This is too bad, because block scheduling can be very beneficial to high school students. By only having three 80-minute class periods a day, students and teachers are able to accomplish a great deal in one day of class. Teachers are able to cover more of their curriculum, and have more time to go over areas where students are struggling. Instead of the students finding out at home that they don’t understand homework, they have time in class to see the curriculum and to ask questions. This lessens the amount of time the teacher has to spend reteaching the material that is normally covered as homework.
Block scheduling is particularly beneficial for science classes. Traditional class periods often do not allow enough time for science labs. With block scheduling, the teacher can discuss the lab, thoroughly go over the procedures, have the students conduct the experiments, and discuss the results all in one class period. In a traditional classroom, this would be spread over several days and some portion would have to be reiterated each time.
Of course, there are a few downsides to block scheduling. Some data suggests that block scheduling is not as beneficial for math and foreign language classes. These subjects are based on repetition, and the subject matter often builds off of what was learned in the previous class. This can present a problem, especially if the classes may have as many as a 4-day gap between them. Another potential problem is the attention span of the average teenager. In this highly technical and fast-moving world, many teenagers do not have the attention span to sit through an 80-minute class. This leads to the final downside. Block scheduling will not be beneficial unless teachers are trained in many different ways to attract and hold the attention of their students for the extended length of time. Traditional teaching methods will not be successful in block scheduling. Teachers must learn how to vary the assignments and their teaching style through the whole 80-minute class period. If they do so, block scheduling can be a big benefit to most students.