Phoenix Christian uses the block schedule in grades 7-12. Block scheduling can take a variety of forms, but we use a modified block schedule which divides a student's class schedule into two blocks which will be taught on alternating days. The alternating day arrangement continues throughout the year. Since the class periods will be 85 minutes long, the students will still be taught the same amount of content as in a traditional schedule.
We realize that many people have questions about such a schedule and wonder how their children are impacted. For that reason, we offer the following information and trust it will be helpful to you. Obviously, we can't answer specific questions that would only be relevant to a particular student, so we ask that you contact the Counseling Office and talk it over with Mrs. Blake at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The block schedule has a number of advantages:
- Block schedule reduces the number of classes students must attend and prepare for each day.
- Block schedule reduces the number of students that teachers must prepare for and interact with in a given day.
- Block schedule reduces the number of courses for which teachers must prepare each day.
- Block schedule reduces the fragmentation inherent in traditional scheduling. In other words, teachers can more easily continue a line of instruction without having to start over again the next day. This is especially important in classes requiring extensive practice and/or laboratory work.
- Block schedule provides teachers with larger segments of teaching time which will allow and encourage the use of more varied teaching strategies and greater student involvement.
- Block schedule reduces the number of class changes, thereby increasing efficiency. Fewer times between classes can also mean fewer behavior issues while students are out from under the teachers' direct supervision.
- In English and literature, the block schedule supports periods of time that can be given over to classroom reading.
- The block schedule will better support the various components of the writing process due to reduced fragmentation.
- The block schedule allows time for more discussion and in-depth analysis.
- Block schedule will enable our students to increase their math instructional time by 89% since math will meet every day.
- The modified block schedule will allow all subjects to be taught over the whole year. Advanced Placement students will have instruction every other day, right up their AP exams in May.
- The block schedule enables the school to use our teaching staff more efficiently, thereby significantly reducing expenses.
Following are some questions that have been asked by various people in the process of developing the block schedule:
Is it realistic to expect students to remain interested and engaged for 85 minutes?
Yes, absolutely. Your child's teachers are enthusiastically committed to exploring all the possibilities of an extended class period. Longer periods enable teachers to use multiple teaching strategies. It should be noted that the longer class periods do not mean just extra study time attached to the end of a normal class period, but it does mean additional instruction. Teachers receive training to make optimum use of this opportunity.
Won't the alternating day format be confusing to my student?
At first it might, but we know our students are resilient and before a week has elapsed they settle into a routine just as they do with a traditional schedule. A calendar will be provided to all families and the alternating day schedule will be clearly posted on the web site and on campus.
Will my student be able to take all the required courses that he or she needs to graduate, and will my student be able to take all the Advanced Placement and honors courses that they would like to take and have room for other electives as well?
All required and elective courses will be available during the course of the four years. Honors students have the opportunity to take electives throughout their four years in addition to their AP courses.
What can teachers do differently with the longer class periods?
Longer class periods allow for cooperative learning activities. Teachers can more easily make use of electronic and web-based materials, and have more in-depth discussion of audio/video resources. Students can take quizzes or tests immediately after instruction rather than the next day.
Why have math every day?
One of the benefits of the block schedule is that math can be taught every day for 85 minutes. The additional instruction time over the course of the year has helped raise the level of mastery of our math students.
What about my middle school student? Will they be on a block schedule?
Yes, all 7th-8th students will be on the block schedule. We fully understand that with the younger students the block schedule will pose challenges at first, but again, we have some of the best teachers anywhere. Our teachers will support and guide the students through the initial adjustment period. Phoenix Christian will not be unique in using the rotating block schedule. It has been used successfully in other middle schools.
What about the arts? Will my student still be able to take music and art?
Yes, instrumental and vocal music and art will continue to be offered all year long, every other day.
What else I should know about?
Some courses are taught every year, and some every other year. Freshman and Sophomore Bible*, Junior and Senior Bible, Junior and Senior English, U.S. History and Government, AP Language and AP Literature*, and AP U.S. History and AP Government* are taught every other year.
*These courses do not have pre-requisites so alternating every other year will not negatively impact student success. For example, a student taking Government as a junior (historically a senior level course) will take U.S. History as a senior (historically a junior level course). This student will not have a deficiency by taking the social studies classes in this order.
Breaks between classes are ten minutes.