News From Prep
Posted February 21, 2012
Prep Experiments with Block Schedule
At 8:10 on a Wednesday morning, Prep’s classrooms are abuzz with the sound of pencils meeting paper, as students busily fill in their temporary block schedules.
“We wanted to investigate creative scheduling for the arts and other classes,” explains Sarah Cooper, Dean of Faculty. “A number of teachers have asked over the past several years whether we would ever try a block schedule, and we wanted to see how such periods would creatively affect teaching at Prep.”
Wednesday and Thursday were a change of pace for students and faculty alike. And throughout the experiment, it seemed that everyone had something to say.
“My initial reaction to the block schedule was that classes would be too long and that 80-minute classes would get boring,” admits Marilyn Haigh ’14, “but I actually liked it a lot more than I thought I would.”
Suzanna Tan ’12 agrees. “We were able to get so much more done during class time, and I really didn’t notice the fact that it was twice as long,” she says, adding,“I was in a block schedule for 4 years before Prep, so I might be a little biased.”
Another pro? “What I really enjoyed about it was that when I got home all I had was 2 or 3 subjects of homework to do, which left some time for me to do what I wanted to do,” declares Nick Ottaviano ’13.
Other students were more hesitant about the change. “I feel that part of what makes Prep so unique is its daily schedule of classes, as opposed to the more common block schedule” comments Brinton Williams ’12. “Taking away Prep's schedule is taking away a part of Prep.”
And what about the teachers? “I really liked it because I was able to transition through multiple techniques, such as assessment, lecture, and discussion. The variety of exercises made class flow nicely,” says Jillian Riehl, who teaches AP Statistics and Algebra II at Prep. “However, I realized that the students I taught on Thursday had trouble remembering the concepts that we had covered on Tuesday. I would argue that math needs to be practiced every day.” Ms. Riehl’s ideal solution is to combine the two schedules. “I think it was a great experiment, and feel that this type of schedule would be well utilized once a month. We could use the free blocks for assemblies and the schedule shake-up would give teachers and students something to look forward to. Teachers could use that week to do projects and teach certain concepts with a lot of depth--we would plan specifically so that block time would be used well.”
Whether or not Prep plans to implement a permanent block schedule remains to be seen, but Ms. Cooper is happy with the experiment, “It was a great test run, and it asked everyone to think about how and why we spend our time at school.” And she adds with a smile, “Everyone found their way to their classes on time!”