• Montgomery High School Block Schedule FAQ

     

    How does MHS avoid an 84-minute lecture?

    Q Why does MHS utilize a block schedule rather than a traditional eight period schedule?

    A We believe that there are great benefits to both students and staff.

     

    Q What is a block schedule?

    A A block schedule is a type of academic scheduling in which students have

    fewer classes per day for a longer period of time.

     

    Q How is the MHS block structured?

    A We run a type of block schedule called an A/B schedule in

    which students would have an eight period schedule broken up over two days.

    Day one (ADay) would consist of periods A1, A2, A3, & A4 and day 2 (B Day)

    would consist of periods B1, B2, B3, & B4. All periods are 84 minutes in length, and

    each day would be broken up with a 50 minute Unit Lunch period immediately following block 2. See the

    table below:

     

    2014-2015 REGULAR BELL SCHEDULE


    A Day

    B Day

    Time

    7:20 - 8:49 (HR)

    Block A1

    Block B1

    84+ (5)

    8:53- 10:17

    Block A2

    Block B2

    84

    10:21 - 11:11

    Unit Lunch

    Unit Lunch

    50

    11:15 - 12:39

    Block A3

    Block B3

    84

    12:43 - 2:07

    Block A4

    Block B4

    84

     

     

    Q What is unit lunch?

    A Unit Lunch is a single 50 minute period in which all students will eat at the

    same time. Students will have access to outside courtyards and fields as well

    as tables underneath the science wing overhang. The students will be

    responsible for cleaning up after themselves and keeping areas clean. They

    will have the opportunity to eat, relax, hang-out with, and exercise (wiffle

    ball, hacky sack, Frisbee) with their friends. We have explored other schools

    (Hunterdon Central, WWP-North, Watchung Hills) who have the unit lunch

    and received positive feedback from their administration, students and staff.

    They’ve reported that students are less stressed and would never wish to

    return to separate lunches. Additionally, this time will be utilized by faculty

    to work in Collaborative Learning Teams on curricular and instructional

    issues.

     

    Q Can MHS accommodate all 1700 students during inclement weather?

    A Yes. Students can eat in the commons, gymnasium and other specified areas

    of the building.

     

    Q Will the students have time to get served and eat their lunch?

    A Yes, with time to spare. Hunterdon Central feeds over 3200 students and

    West Windsor Plainsboro North feeds 1700 within twenty minutes. We will

    do the same.

     

    Q What will the teachers do during Unit Lunch?

    A The faculty will rotate between supervising the lunch and working in

    Collaborative Learning Teams.

     

    Q What are Collaborative Learning Teams (CLTs)?

    A Teachers in common subject areas will work together in CLTs to clarify what

    students must learn, gather evidence of student learning, analyze that

    evidence, and identify the most powerful teaching strategies. We believe that

    reflective teaching must be based on evidence of student learning, and

    reflection is most powerful when it is collaborative. The CLTs are a lynchpin

    to providing the best possible educational experience to our students.

     

    Q Are CLTs necessary during the school day?

    A Absolutely. Collaboration with colleagues is essential in other professions.

    Law firms require attorneys to meet on a weekly basis to review issues and

    strategies in their cases. Architects, engineers, and construction managers

    meet weekly to track progress and solve problems as a building takes shape.

    Richard DuFour, educational author and consultant states that, “Educators are

    professionals, and they too benefit from the insights, expertise, and collective

    efforts of a team of colleagues. Collaboration is not a frill; it is an essential

    element of professional practice.”

    A Research supports the importance of collaboration. “The collaborative team

    has been called the fundamental building block of any learning organization,”

    says DuFour, “the best structure for achieving challenging goals, and the most

    productive organizational structure… No district should disregard the

    compelling evidence that a collaborative culture represents a more promising

    strategy than teachers working in isolation. Districts should be seeking ways

    to help educators work smarter by providing time for them to work together to

    address the challenges they face.” MTSD’s goal that, “All staff members

    demonstrate commitment to the success of every child and to continual

    professional growth” is addressed through our CLTs.

     

    Q What are the educational benefits to block schedule?

    A The extended time in class will provide opportunity for an increased use of

    various student-centered instructional styles (e.g., cooperative and small group

    learning, hands-on projects, project-based learning, and simulations). The

    periods will also provide opportunity to gain more in-depth understanding of

    concepts and provide more opportunities for critical thinking. The National

    Training Lab reports that we remember only one-fifth of what we see and

    hear, 80 percent of what we experience directly, and 90 percent of what we

    teach to others. Discussions, direct experience (simulations, etc.), and student

    sharing are all highly effective methods of learning. But they’re also timeconsuming.

    With extended class periods, however, we can use these best

    practices more often.

    A It is important for students to be able to explore content in depth, making

    deeper connections with their existing knowledge base. Deeper connections

    translate into better retention and heightened problem-solving skills.

     

    Q Will students fall behind further if they are absent for a day in the block as opposed to

    the current 8-period day?

    A Not really. If they are absent in the block, they will miss four classes as opposed to the normal eight. Additionally, students have a

    study hall that will enable them to catch up on missed assignments.

     

    Q Do all students have study hall?

    A Yes. We believe that our students are extremely stressed with a rigorous

    academic schedule.  Additionally, they are very busy within the community as well as club and extra-curricular

    activities after school. The study hall will give time to students where time is

    desperately needed. Students may also utilize this time for other

    opportunities, such as on-line courses and service projects.

     

    Q Will seniors still get early dismissal?

    A Yes. A senior who selects early dismissal as part of their schedule will be permitted to

    leave after the third block each day.  However, this also varies based on the individual schedules of each student.

     

    Q Doesn’t an 84-minute class cause more harm than good with the attention span of a

    typical teenager?

    A Not if the instruction is broken up into segments of engaging, student-centered

    activities. Teachers will make the important transition from the traditional

    role of “the giver of knowledge” to the much more acceptable “a facilitator for

    learning” in the classroom. The goal is not to get through page 175 by 9:37

    a.m. The goal is to increase learning which will happen with the use of

    appropriate instructional strategies.

     

    Q How does MHS avoid an 84-minute lecture?

    The CLTs mentioned above aid in providing teacher professional development.  Furthermore, supervisors and administrators visit classrooms regularly to help ensure that instructional techniques are varied to meet the needs of all of our students.

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    Q What impact does the block schedule have on AP and other advanced courses?

    A The utilization of the A/B block schedule ensures that teachers will be meeting with students

    regularly all year. We have not seen or experienced any issues with AP or advanced

    courses since the inception of the block schedule. In fact, the opportunity to examine content in greater depth and

    develop critical thinking skills will aid students in higher level courses.

     

    Q Will my child lose continuity of instruction with only being able to see their teacher

    every other day?

    A We do not believe that this will occur. In fact we believe that our students

    will retain knowledge longer, be able to apply knowledge better, and

    assimilate to a schedule more like the one that they will have when they enter

    college. Additionally, teachers will have longer periods of time with their

    students to build relationships, understand their students and improve

    continuity.

     

    Q What happens to the schedule when there is a weather related cancellation?

    A If an A Day is cancelled due to snow. The next day of school will be a

    ADay. That day will not be skipped.

     

    Q Are there any economic ramifications of the block schedule?

    A The block does not have negative ramifications for the budget.

Last Modified on September 9, 2014