Practical Considerations, Part II: Scheduling for the 2020-2021 School Year

The Traditional 7, 8, or 9-Period Schedule Might Not Work This Year

I’m still curious as to how many people like the bike monologues and would like me to keep them going. It’s actually helped me to make my thoughts more precise and, frankly, less angry. This has been a trying time for us all.

Eliminate Some Transitions with a Different Schedule

In this article by Melissa Kelly, we learn that the 4×4 schedule typically splits up the school year into contained semesters of 4 classes, with those classes that are typically a semester long only lasting one marking period. Therefore, most electives would only last one marking period. However, each period would be twice as long as it normal is (90 minutes instead of 45, for example). There are pros and cons with this schedule as there are with any schedule. For one thing, everyone has more time to focus on fewer subjects, but there are fewer days to work on the content of a particular course, which means that the typical yearlong course needs to be revised for the compressed timeframe.

The focus of this post: With this schedule, there would be fewer transitions. If we are doing in-person learning, having fewer transitions could help make things feel less chaotic for teachers, staff, and students. The extra time in class would help us to get settled safely while also affording us meaningful and productive time to learn together.

In my bike monologue, I mentioned one issue: Standardized testing typically takes place in the spring. In my locale, our high school exams include Algebra I (9th grade), Biology (10th grade), and English Literature (10th grade). So, my recommendation is have students preparing for those exams to take the relevant course in the fall and then take an enrichment course in the spring, which would be worth whatever a typical elective is worth. A schedule might look like this.

PeriodMP1MP2MP3MP4
1English 10English 10English EnrichmentComputer Science I
2BiologyBiologyScience EnrichmentCreative Writing I
3GeometryGeometryU.S. History IU.S. History I
4HealthHealthSpanish 2Spanish 2
It’s just an idea…

There could be a zero-hour class as well, for students who are in technical courses, band, or other tracks. No, I’m not saying that is when they would take those courses. Perhaps a teacher or two would volunteer to have a zero-hour class to accommodate those students and teach one of the core courses at that time. It worked well in some high schools in my area.

Facilitate Social Distancing with This Schedule

We might be able to facilitate social distancing a bit more if we have one cohort attending a class one semester and the other joining the second. If the students are going to test in the spring (sigh), then an enrichment course could start in MP 2. The schedule might look like this.

PeriodMP1MP2MP3MP4
1Computer Science IEnglish EnrichmentEnglish 10English 10
2Creative Writing IScience EnrichmentBiologyBiology
3GeometryGeometryU.S. History IU.S. History I
4HealthHealthSpanish 2Spanish 2
It’s just an idea…

What Would an Enrichment Course Look Like? That’s a Question I Will Tackle Tomorrow.

Thank you for reading!

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