Monday, February 3, 2014

Block Scheduling

Oh man... so this year at my new school, after 7 years of teaching, I feel new all over again in so many ways.

Block scheduling is really a game changer.

We teach 4 - 90 minute classes each day.  While I don't agree with this philosophy, I just have to do what I have to do to help my kids learn as much Spanish as they can in those 90 minutes.

But I feel like there is a point at which class ceases to be productive in a 90 minute class.

So what have I done so far?  This is the flow I have tried to create.  I am working on getting better at giving Brain Breaks because if I don't give them to my students, they'll take them anyways and not pay attention.

Breakdown: (2nd semester):

  • (10 minutes) Free Voluntary Reading
  • (2 minutes) put books away carefully
  • (10-15 minutes)  Warm up chat:  How are you; what's for lunch, what's the weather next 3 days
  • (5 minutes) Daily Activity - tweets, joke, miaucoles, comic, fail
    (notice we're about 30 minutes in)
  • (40-45 minutes) Spoken story / Written story
  • (5 minutes) student generated quiz / assessment
  • (5 minutes) pack up, sit and chat with friends, talk to students in English/Spanish
It's a work in progress.

Sometimes I will throw in reading a children's book to the class, or a movietalk, or a song.

I used to do songs once a week (Thursdays).  I am trying to think of ways to work in music more.  I thought maybe something like Kristy Placido and other teachers do with multiple passes of the same song, to expose the kids to it more.

Maybe by next year, I'll feel better about this Block Scheduling.


  1. My school runs a hybrid schedule with 40-45 minute periods on Monday, Tuesday and Friday and 85 minute block periods on Wednesday and Thursday. I am in the same boat with trying to plan those blocks. I think you have some really great ideas here. You obviously want to use the bulk of it for a story and good input, but I think your other little activities would help to break up the long period too. ¡Gracias por las buenas ideas!

    1. That doesn't sound too bad! The long periods can be difficult. I am slowly finding a rhythm to it, but it's taken me over half of the year to figure out what I would do better next year! Of course, that's every year, right?

      I do the other aspects like the menu, how are you, and weather report because it is input and in context and we have "covered" material that wouldn't necessarily be "covered" without being contrived in storytelling. Because I hate FORCING vocabulary into a story.

      I can handle the structures, but forcing vocabulary is where I think we can easily over-do it as a carryover from previously teaching traditionally. ;-)