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My Bell Schedule

October 9, 2011

By Popular Demand, the bell schedule for my school:

http://edweb.tusd.k12.az.us/paloverde/Docs/PV%202011%20bell%20scheulde.pdf

Note the following:

All 6 classes meet every day

Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday have certain classes extended on each day to run for 75 minutes instead of the regular 50 minutes.

Conference Period on Friday Morning

I eat lunch at a different time every day

How other teachers are using the extended time (From what I hear, anyway):

Mini-lessons on enrichment topics

Review games (jeopardy, bingo, whiteboards, etc)

One science class with two teachers breaks the entire class into stations. One teacher teaches the new material in a small-group seting; the other teacher monitors homework and makeup work, allowing for individual attention and tutoring; the other station is based at the computers in the lab where students work on an individualized research/real world assignments using the internet for research. This is the best solution I’ve heard (better than mine).

Most common solution: give students a bathroom break that takes 5-10 minutes, then extend the lesson/have them work on homework/etc.

How would you use an extra 25 minutes given to certain classes on different days?

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5 Comments
  1. My school is champs about doing random stuff with the bell schedule so I’m pretty curious about what you think. We’ve had a consistent 25 minutes before lunch as an “advisory” period but it was pretty crazy. Mainly it was kids wandering around from class to class and sitting around playing cards or worse. Teachers felt like it was an extra prep so they didn’t prepare anything. We’ve also had that one time a week which worked out a little better but still had the “extra prep” problem. I’m wondering if teachers would use 25 minutes for each period better because it’s attached to a specific academic class rather than a separate group of kids or if it would mainly just be time to work on homework. Were you given any guidance on how to use it?

    I’m not sure I have any grand ideas on this. I’d probably just use the time like this
    http://alwaysformative.blogspot.com/2010/02/my-love-affair-with-topic-scales.html

    Have them work on a specific weakness or extension.

  2. Jason – What you’re describing with the ‘advisory period’ is similar to the conference period we have. However, since our conference period is 45 minutes long, students and teachers feel like there’s actually enough time to catch up on assignments, get tutoring, or just sit down and finish a homework assignment/project. There’s also a lot of pressure from clubs/sports/the administration to use that time wisely, so I haven’t been very aware of any gross misbehavior. I think it also helps that our conference period is at the beginning of school, so unmotivated students can just sleep in if they want to skip it instead of being stuck on campus causing trouble. I know that for my conference, I don’t plan anything structured – I just let students come in and get extra help/make up quizzes/whatever they need. What was the ‘goal’ of the advisory period at your school – for students to get extra tutoring or make up assignments? Or for enrichment? Or.. a break in the middle of the day?

    To answer your question: no, I haven’t been given a whole lot of guidance on how to use the extra time, and I haven’t heard any enlightening ideas from other teachers on how they use the time. I know it was put in as part of the ‘system of interventions’ that goes along with being a professional learning community, but as far as actual implementation, we’re all trying things out on our own.

    At the beginning of the year, I had big ideas of using that time for creative unit projects. There are some activities in geometry where I want the students to create something unique and artistic, but I can’t really justify spending an entire class period cutting and gluing shapes. At first, I saw the extra time as time for students to work on these projects during school and supervised by me without using an entire class period just for work time. That hasn’t panned out, mostly because I haven’t been able to be organized about it.

    I like the topic scale that you linked and the description of how you run the class – I’ve been developing similar skill checklists of my own for students. I’ve slowly been incorporating more standards-based grading elements into my classroom – checklists and rubrics for students to self-assess, a continual stream of worksheets for students to work on as they progress, and a mastery-based grading system for these worksheets (you can only miss 2 on each try). I’ve started to incorporate this for my students who really need consistent remedial tutoring – for some of them, it’s already started to work wonders.

    The more I think about it, the more I think that stations are really the best way to handle this time – give students a checklist with topics from the current unit (along with skills they should already walk through the door with but may need to relearn), have the class break into stations, and have students work at their own pace at each station. The thing I struggle the most with is just getting it all organized. Maybe it’s something I can start when second semester rolls around.

    Anyway – if anyone else has any ideas, I’d love to hear them. Sorry for the long comment… it’s essentially another blog post…

  3. Found this blog through a series of links…the last of which was the “Needs More Traffic” post.
    Anyhoo…I was just skimming through, and saw the link in this post…you teach in Tucson! Me too!
    I thought that was pretty neat, and had to comment.

    I’m in my fourth year of teaching. Started reading math teacher blogs almost two years ago, and it made a big difference in my teaching. Then, I just started my own blog this year. I don’t post often, but it’s been real helpful.

    I’m adding this blog to my reader…I like your thoughts 🙂

    • Hi Sarah!

      I’m glad you managed to find another teacher in Tucson! And I’m glad you decided to start your own blog – I don’t know about you, but the process of putting rambling internal reflections into something concrete and readable by the outside world makes me rethink and reconsider even more than I normally do. It’s an amazing experience.

      Thanks for reading!

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