Cancel next year's block scheduling plan for Neenah High School
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Neenah students are concerned about the block scheduling proposition in place for the high school next year. To elaborate on our concerns, we quoted two reliable sources; Jeff Lindsay, an Appleton parent with a PhD in Chemical Engineering and several former positions of high authority and prestige, and Melissa Kelly, a former teacher with experience in co-teaching and AP environments.
The Pros and Cons of Block Scheduling
Pros of Block Scheduling
- A teacher sees fewer students during the day, thereby giving them the ability to spend more time with each individual.
- Because of the increased span of teaching time, longer cooperative learning activities can be completed in one class periods. Also, there is more time for labs in science classes.
- Students have less information to deal with over the course of a school day.
- Because of the decreased number of classes, students have less homework on any given day during the week.
- The teacher is able to provide more varied instruction during class. Thus, it is easier to deal with students with disabilities and differing learning styles.
Cons of Block Scheduling
- In the modified block I taught under, teachers only saw students four times a week (for ex. Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri) which means that students lost continuity on their off days.
- If a student misses a day under the modular schedule, that student is actually missing two, or sometimes even more days.
- No matter how well planned, on many days the teacher ends up with 10-15 minutes for the students to begin their homework. When all of the time is added up at the end of the semester, less information and material is covered. This is especially true in a modified block schedule.
- In the 4X4 schedule, all of the information taught in a semester course has to be covered in one quarter. In an Economics class at a typical high school, if the quarter happens to be during football season while homecoming is occurring, the teacher can lose valuable class time due to interruptions.
- There is no evidence the block scheduling works. Two studies, one done in Canada and one completed in Texas, have some definite negatives to say about the Block Schedule.
Before presenting the findings of major scientific studies on block scheduling, let's consider the "common sense" general objections that are made to block scheduling. (Additional specific problems are discussed below.) First, there is the fundamental problem of adolescent attention span. Making a class twice as long usually does not enable twice as much material to be covered. Many teachers are familiar with the short attention span of teenagers. The problems are especially severe with Learning Disabled kids. When a 50-minute class becomes a 90- or 100-minute class, what happens? To maintain attention, less instruction and more "fun" activities are needed. This "transformation" seems to be the greatest thing about block scheduling in the minds of some proponents, but in practice it means a watering down of course content. Proponents utter the empty slogan "less is more," meaning that less is covered but more is learned, but are unable to substantiate such rhetoric. Another slogan states that block scheduling helps to eliminate "the sage on the stage" in favor of "the guide on the side," but the "teacher as facilitator" concept rather than "teacher as instructor" is another unproven concept.
We hope the Neenah school board will take into account this petition when deciding on scheduling for next year
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