The new schedule enables students to focus on three or four courses a semester, rather than having their attention spread over seven or eight, said Principal Edward P. Shirkey, a proponent of block scheduling.
The change will also encourage what the state Board of Regents wants to take place in the classroom, namely, active learning, analysis and projects, he
, the smallest district in Broome and Tioga counties, is not alone in moving in this direction.Proponents estimate roughly one-third of the secondary schools in the country have some form of block scheduling.
...Shirkey, principal at Deposit Junior-Senior High for five years, said he's seen the concept work in Oxford and Walton where he was a teacher and administrator.
That made him a believer. He
thinks the new schedule will mean students can take more courses in their high school careers and more quickly retake the ones they fail.
"The overall academic atmosphere improves dramatically," he
The block schedule for Deposit's
350 secondary students works like this:
* Most senior high courses now run one semester, instead of a full year.Students meet daily for 80 minutes.
* Some courses -- such as physical education and music -- that don't lend themselves to the semester approach meet on alternate days, 80 minutes at a time.
The process to make the change took three years, Shirkey
said.A team that included parents and teachers studied the idea, and teachers visited schools that use block scheduling.
Most Deposit teachers are working "pretty well" within the new scheduling system, said Tredwell Burch, a social studies teacher for 19 years and building representative for the Deposit Teachers Association
"Overall for me, in my subject, it allows a little more time to develop a lesson," he
said."You have to be more creative, and that's not a bad thing."
Some teachers are experiencing a learning curve, Shirkey
also said legitimate concerns need to be addressed.
"It's a genuine work in progress," he
said."We already see some problems and scheduling tweaks that have to be made."
remains committed to the idea.
"The biggest challenge is that it doesn't happen overnight," he
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