MCHS’s block schedule gets positive early response from teachers, students
August 27, 2013
Moffat County High School block schedule
Monday through Thursday
First period: 8 to 9:25 a.m.
Break: 9:25 to 9:35 a.m.
Passing period: 9:35 to 9:40 a.m.
Second period: 9:40 to 11:05 a.m.
Lunch: 11:05 to 11:50 a.m.
Passing period: 11:50 to 11:55 a.m.
Third period: 11:55 a.m. to 1:20 p.m.
Break: 1:20 to 1:30 p.m.
Sustained silent reading: 1:30 to 2 p.m.
Passing period: 2 to 2:05 p.m.
Fourth period: 2:05 to 3:30 p.m.
First period: 8 to 9:05 a.m.
Break: 9:05 to 9:15 a.m.
Passing period: 9:15 to 9:20 a.m.
Second period: 9:20 to 10:30 a.m.
Lunch: 10:30 to 11:15 a.m.
Passing period: 11:15 to 11:20 a.m.
Third period: 11:20 to 12:25 p.m.
Break: 12:25 to 12:30 p.m.
Sustained silent reading: 12:30 to 1:05 p.m.
Passing period: 1:05 to 1:10 p.m.
Fourth period: 1:10 to 2:15 p.m.
— Each day will alternate with the A or B schedule. Each week will either be a Blue or White week.
It's only been in effect for a short time, but when it comes to the initial reaction for Moffat County High School's new schedule, the result is so far, so good.
MCHS's freshly implemented block schedule plan was launched Monday for the 2013-14 school year, and students and teachers like what they've seen. As opposed to the seven-period school day used in the past, the block schedule offers students eight total subjects with four periods per day, alternating every other day.
Each period is 85 minutes long, condensed on Fridays, meaning students receive a greater amount of time with each teacher throughout the day, though they won't have the same class again until two days later, with each day being designated an A or B day and each week either a Blue or White week.
"Kids liked the extended time with teachers and they're not rushing through the materials," MCHS Assistant Principal David Grabowski said. "It was really a pretty regular school day (Monday) and in fact, it was easier, because when a student gets their schedule on their first day, they could have seven times the problems. Now the max you could have is four."
Grabowski was a proponent for the block system at MCHS last year when it first was being seriously considered. Although the idea had been mentioned numerous times before that, some parents and teachers were concerned the system would not be effective.
"Whenever you implement something new on as large a scale as this, there's going to be some apprehension," Grabowski said.
Band teacher John Bolton said he still is unsure if the block schedule will be beneficial for a program like his that requires practice on a daily basis.
"I told my kids, 'You know what's going to change? Nothing. We're going to rehearse every day when we're here and when we're not, we won't,'" he said. "I've got some kids, it wouldn't matter if we met once a week, they're still going to be ready, but some depend on that daily contact time. We'll have to play it out for this year and we'll go from there. All I have now is speculation."
Although the alternating day format may hold problems for some of his students, Bolton added that the increased classroom time each day works out well for other subjects.
"I think an academic teacher can flourish with it," he said. "I know I would have loved to have had an hour-and-a-half chemistry class in school."
First-year MCHS science teacher Laura Moore said she is all for the block schedule, having attended a high school that used the system. As an instructor, adjusting her curriculum for the block surprisingly has been easy.
"It's really given me more time to get in-depth with the students," she said. "I think it challenges them to stay focused. Instead of having to take a couple days to do the same thing, now they can do it all in one class."
With extended periods, students also receive two 10-minute breaks during the school day, and the two separate 30-minute lunch periods have been merged into one 45-minute slot for everyone on campus.
Another change that will start next week once everyone is acclimated is a mandatory period of Sustained Silent Reading each afternoon as students and teachers sit down for quiet time with a book.
"They sent out an email encouraging us to discuss our readings with students, which is good because that's more critical thinking and they have to process it and it just increases the literacy and understanding of what they read," Moore said.
The student reaction to the changes this year have been largely positive, with many MCHS kids pleased with the new system.
"One good thing is you'll have more time to do homework instead of having to get it done the next day," sophomore Evelyn Quezada said.
Quezada added that the first day of school felt shorter on the block schedule.
"Honestly, it just flew by for me," she said.
Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org.