I for one love block scheduling. I spent the last ten years teaching in a middle school with an 81 minute block on alternate A/B days. It was wonderful!
My 8th graders always started out with warm up sketch book assignments, notes, etc for the first ten minutes. This allows time to get materials out, get students who were absent caught up, take roll and adjust for any students coming in late. My students loved their sketch books and they were a great tool to work out ideas for projects and many carried them with them all the time.
Once the sketch book time was complete I would give a short discussion to introduce the lesson, or talk about expectations for the day. On the board I kept a time line for their reference and mine own which was useful through out the class.
The long blocks allow for time to discuss lessons or techniques and still give them plenty of time to get INVOLVED in their work and not have to rush just to finish. I found my students were not frustrated and loved being able to really take time to make quality not quantity.
The last 10 to 15 is clean up time depending on what the project was and the materials involved. If students finished clean up early they always have their sketch book assignment sheet with a list of many ideas to choose from.
My 7th and 6th graders enjoyed the long blocks as well since it allowed more time that I could offer assistence and be able to really work the room for suggestions and help.
I will say that I think the long blocks are harder on the 6th graders than the older kids. I dont know how the 5th graders will take the longer blocks either. With my 6th graders I found I had to really come up with strong lessons to keep their interest and keep them focused. My room always had art books, drawing sheets and newsprint for drawing if they finished early. I will say that peer helping was a big bonus with the younger groups to keep them focused and working.
The block schedule is really wonderful and I wish you all the best. Let me know if you have any other questions....
Miss Holly Bess Kincaid
Dublin Middle School
and soon to be an elementary art teacher at Robinson Elementary in Seabrook, TX just outside of Houston.
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