Maximizing
Instruction with a
Block Schedule
Problem
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Student Teaching Experience vs. New Job
Teaching Freshman for 90 minutes
Glencoe’s Schedule
Typical Lesson Set Up
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In-class reading- 15 minutes
Lecture- 20 minutes
In-class assignment (ex. Timelines, maps, news
articles and questions, movies, t-charts, study
guides, review games, worksheets)
Evidence- Student Perceptions
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In-Class Discussion with
Students produced the
following comments:
“It seems like a lot of teachers
don’t teach much. They just
give us an assignment and
have us work on it.”
“Most of my teachers just
lecture us. It works a lot better
when we do interesting things.”
“90 minutes is really long,
especially when we don’t do
much in class.”
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“I like honors biology because we
get do hands-on stuff and
experiments that are cool.”
“It seems like our teachers don’t
know what to do with us
sometimes, but then when we
have short classes on Mondays,
we don’t even do anything.”
“I don’t mind taking notes
sometimes, but if we have to take
them for a long time I stop
learning.”
“We hardly ever get homework.
Most of the time we can get it
done in class. I like that part.”
Evidence- Teacher Reflection
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“For my first year of teaching, I feel like the quote “sink or swim” fits
the way I feel most of the time. Having 4 preps and being a varsity
coach is a little overwhelming, but I know I just need to get through
the first year.”
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“I am scared to death of having to teach for 90 minutes. It was hard
enough student teaching for 50 minutes. Oh well, at least I have a
job. I am sure I will figure things out.”
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“I feel like I am doing the best I can, but I know I can be a more
effective teacher. Unfortunately, lack of time makes it very difficult to
be as good as I would like to be. I can see how teachers can get
stuck in what is easy, but I do want to learn more strategies so that I
can become a better teacher.”
Research/Support
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Planning: “Research and practice suggest that one major way to
influence the prospects and probability for success is through careful
planning, preparation, monitoring implementation efforts, and
feedback.” (Robbins, Gregory, & Herndon, 2000, p. 187)
Variety in Instruction: “Teachers gain additional time increasing the
potential to implement creative and diverse student-centered
instructional practices or pedagogical techniques and flexible
assessment/evaluative strategies that could not otherwise be utilized
under traditional schedules.” (McCreary & Hausman, 2001, p. 5)
Hands-On Learning: “Likewise, Fogarty (1996), O’Neil (1995),
Queen, Algozzine, and Eaffy (1998), and Reither (1999) suggest
that longer instructional periods may increase in-depth learning
through learning-centered approaches, like cooperative learning,
student-directed projects, and group work.” (McCreary & Hausman,
2001, p. 6)
Research/Support
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Lecture-Based Instruction: “Canady and Rettig (1993) argue that the
simple intervention of increasing the amount of time a teacher is
exposed to students in the classroom can lead to experimentation
with learning activities that increase student engagement and
satisfaction. They state that teachers should be encouraged to break
away from over-reliance on lecture/discussion as the primary (often
only) model of teaching.” (Staunton, 1997, p. 74)
Professional Development: “When block scheduling fails, it is often
for four reasons: (1) schools jump into it too hastily; (2)
administrators impose it from the top, unsympathetic to the
teachers', students', or community's feelings;(3) teachers aren't
given training in instructional strategies for the new delivery system;
and (4) it is implemented without sufficient examination of other
school policies.” (Freeman & Scheidecker, 1996)
Final Solution
Final Solution:
I will create a 5-week geography unit utilizing strategies that have been
recommended by the research I have conducted. My new unit has 5
different focus points which are listed below:
 1. A unit plan will be created for the geography unit that includes
goals, objectives, activities and assessments.
 2. Each lesson will include at minimum 3 different activities.
 3. At least one “hands-on” activity will be included in each class
period.
 4. In-class lectures will take place 1-2 times per week for no longer
than 15-20 minutes each class period.
 5. I will seek out at least one professional development opportunity
to help me continue to learn effective teaching strategies that can be
utilized during block periods.
Strengths and Weaknesses
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Planning for 90-Minute Classes
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Variety in Instruction
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Student-Centered vs. Time and Effort, Training, Comfort Zone
Lecture-Based Instruction
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Learning Styles, Active Instruction vs. Time and Effort
Hands-On Learning
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Quality vs. Time and Effort
Communicating Information vs. Learning Styles, Difficulty Focusing
Professional Development
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Focus on Improvement, New Strategies vs. Time and Effort
Research Plan
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Research Questions
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How effective is my new geography unit in comparison to my old
geography unit?
Does my new geography unit increase the learning rate of those
students exposed to it in comparison to my old geography unit?
Research Plan
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Non-Equivalent Control Group Design
Pretest/Posttest
Results: Graph Learning Rate, Class Averages
Qualitative: Open-Ended Survey
Threats to Validity
Information communicated to each class
 Variance in my treatment group and
control group
 First time teaching new unit, experience
teaching old unit
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How to Surpass Threats to Validity
Observations and Reflection
 Learning Rate, not Class Averages
 Repeating the Study
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Follow Up & Conclusion
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Open-ended survey regarding instructional
methods
Informal group discussion
" Every successful learning initiative requires key
people to allocate hours to new types of activities:
reflection, planning, collaborative work, and
training."
Peter Senge, The Dance of Change
References
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Adams, D., Salvaterra, M. (1997). Structural and Teacher Changes: Necessities for Successful Block Scheduling.
High School Journal, 81, 98-107. Retrieved July 10, 2006, from Ebsco Academic Search Elite Database.
Freeman, W., Scheidecker, D. (1996). Planning for Block Scheduling. Clearing House,
70, 60-62. Retrieved
July 10, 2006, from Ebsco Academic Search Elite Database.
Hayley, M. (1997). Surviving Block Scheduling. Nashville, TN: Annual Meeting of the American Council on the
Teaching of Foreign Languages. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 427529).
Marshak, D. (1998). Key Elements of Effective Teaching in Block Periods. Clearing House, 72, 55-57. Retrieved
July 2, 2006 from Ebsco Academic Search Elite Database.
Marshak, D. (2001). Improving Teaching in the High School Block Period. Maryland: Scarecrow Press.
McCreary, J., Hausman, C. (2001). Differences in Student Outcomes between Block, Semester, and Trimester
Schedules. Salt Lake City, Utah. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 457590).
Porter, C. (2002). What do I teach for 90 minutes? Creating a Successful Block Scheduled English Classroom.
Illinois: National Council of Teachers of English.
Queen, J. (2000). Block Scheduling Revisited. Phi Delta Kappa International. Retrieved July 3, 2006 from
http://www.pdkintl.org/kappan/kque0011.htm.
Queen, J. (2003). The Block Scheduling Handbook. California: Corwin Press.
Robbins, P. Gregory, G. Herndon, L. (2000). Thinking Inside the Block Schedule. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin
Press.
Staunton, J. (1997). A Study of Teacher Beliefs on the Efficacy of Block Scheduling. NASSP Bulletin, 81 (593), 7380.
Veal, W., Flinders, D. (2001). How Block Scheduling Reform Effects Classroom Practice. High School Journal, 84,
21-32. Retrieved July 10, 2006, from Ebsco Academic Search Elite Database.
Wyatt, L. (1996). More Time, More Training. What Staff Development Do Teachers Need for Effective Instruction
in Block Scheduling? In D. Flinders (Ed.), Block Scheduling: Restructuring the School Day (pp. 267-269).
Indiana: Phi Delta Kappa.
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Maximizing Instruction with a Block Schedule