Posted in Elementary School

The Blocks vs. Period Debate

Written by: Tyler Hailston, Nicole Jordan, James Huyck, Emily Jackson, Eric Carney

Currently, the Herkimer Jr. High operates on a period schedule and the Sr. High School operates on a block schedule. It has been decided that, beginning next school year, we will switch to a school-wide period schedule. This change will affect a high school students schedule by having nine 42 minute classes per day, instead of four 82 minute classes per day, plus lunch. The HHS Journalism Class recently conducted an anonymous survey for students and teachers grades 8-12 regarding the proposed change in our schedule.

 

The following are the results of the student survey:

  • 32 students in grades 8-12, who responded, are in favor of moving to periods
  • 177 students in grades 8-12, who responded, are in favor of staying with blocks.

 

Students were asked to explain why they wanted either blocks or periods.

Those students who were in favor of periods said the following:

 

“I don’t remember what I did two days ago when I have blocks. The day goes faster with shorter classes. I get all my homework done the first day. Sitting in class for 80 minutes is boring.”

“I don’t think I would be able to fully concentrate for 80 minutes.”

“You get to see the same teacher every day.”

“I have blocks and it makes the day go by really slow.”

“When I have homework for more than one day I will be a procrastinator and forget to do my homework. It would be frustrating.”

“Periods are less confusing.”

“I am used to periods. More classes per day. I don’t want 80 minute study halls.”

“Many kids can’t focus on one class for 80 minutes.”

“You could remember more information if you hear it daily.”

“I can’t pay attention in one class for 80 minutes.”

“If you are absent with periods, you have less work to catch up on.”

 

Teachers were also surveyed. Of the 30 who responded, 14 were in favor of the periods.  The following are some of the teachers’ comments, in favor of moving to periods:

“I have been teaching in periods for several years now – student’s attention during the class period and retention in the next day’s class period is better.”

“Seeing students everyday will allow less material to be covered at once and more retention of material will occur. Plus, when a student is out, they will miss less material.”

“Especially for struggling students, smaller but more frequent doses of material is more effective than larger, further apart. 24 hours is long enough to remember how; 48 hours is long enough to remember to forget how.”

“Easier for students to stay focused for entire class –  80 minutes is a long time to stay dialed in.”

“With middle school students, attention span in short periods works better to see them daily and briefly.”

“Periods because we will have every class every single day.”

“Daily contact with students. Fits better with students’ attention span.” “Prefer to see students every day.”

“It works better to see them daily and briefly.”

“Kids more focused. Day goes by fast.”

 

The students who voted for the blocks had many different responses. Those in favor said the following:

“I don’t have to do all my homework in one night and it’s too much info [with periods] for one day.”

“The teachers won’t try to rush through lesson plans and will take their time in class.”

“It gives students the opportunity to receive help on their days off from a certain class.”

“You will have a higher failing percentage due to having homework due every day.”

“Students won’t have any time to see teachers for extra help, and will be overloaded with homework.  If you think failure rates are high now, wait till we switch to periods.”

“In my classes, it provides me the opportunity to complete more work on time, homework is due every other day, and the day goes by quicker with only four classes, making it easier to put forth 100% effort.”

“There is more time per day to focus on each class.  There are two days to do your homework, so if one is busy with sports or other activities they have time to do it.”

“I like to spend a little more time on a unit because we could possibly be studying and then be interrupted [with periods] and have to wait.”

“Periods are too short and unreasonable. The adjustment is not fair to upcoming seniors.”

“More time to learn, can go further in depth.”

“We get more time to talk about what we are learning about.  Also, it’s getting us ready for college.”

“I don’t want to have the same classes every day.”

“We have more time to cover material, also we wouldn’t have to rush through the subject.”

“I’d rather have an 80 minute study hall to do homework. I usually have to help my mom around the house.”

“For longer study halls because I can’t concentrate at home.”

“In my mind, blocks make the day seem to go by faster and after adopting to blocks it will be a tough transition to periods.Periods will negatively affect lab class, all art classes, and some math classes”

“Blocks allow for more streamlined lesson plans and a more attentive lesson. If 5 minutes are spent quieting kids down 2 minutes are spent doing attendance, and 3 getting the lesson/ lab setup then there’s only 30 minutes for kids to learn and comprehend the information. That’s being generous and not taking into account to explain to individual kids the lesson if they don’t understand.”

 

Along with the student comments, 16 teachers were in favor of blocks. Here are some of their responses:

 

“Less wasted time reiterating. Depth of discussions. Exposure time.  Less wasted migration time.  Writing time. Single day tests. Instruct → show → do → fix → do; No time for that in periods.”

 

“Time for me to present info to students and time for students to use that info in their work. Otherwise, they forget by next class.”

“We are supposed to do hands-on, projects based learning.  Periods do not allow set-up time for that many classes in one day or enough time to complete activities.  Many Science labs cannot be done in one period.”

“Blocks allow for more time to dive deeper into the content that is being taught and students to synthesize information with greater understanding.”

“With the classes I teach, art, students need a fair amount for material distribution, practice, application, and clean up of supplies.”

“More uninterrupted time for projects, group work, technology, hands on activities.”

 

According to the survey, students seem more in favor of blocks, but the teachers are almost at an even split. There are many studies regarding block and period scheduling; some support blocks over periods, while other studies support periods over blocks. Our survey indicates the overall preference, but whether the school continues with blocks or periods, we know that student success will be the top priority.

 

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