Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Schedule for the 2015-16 School Year

Change is hard. It really is, but we need to move forward. The schedule for this year is radically different from what we have done in the past. I believe it is a step forward towards where we will ultimately need to be three years from now when the two remodeled elementary schools open.

The main framework of the schedule is a 7-period school day. All class periods are 50 minutes long. Students and teachers are assigned to classes in the 7 periods. The school day is divided into 7 blocks of time, Block A through Block G. The new terminology may take some getting used to, but it is straightforward. In order to standardize lunches and workshop blocks, class periods 4 and 5 do not rotate. These periods always meet during Blocks D and E. The other 5 class periods rotate around them.

With 5 periods rotating we must use a 5-Day cycle. This is one of the big changes. Instead of the old 4-day cycle, we will now have Day1, Day2, Day3, Day4, and Day5. Most survey classes will still operate on every other day cycle. We need to keep track of this alternating cycle separately as A-Days and B-Days. Although the name has changed, the game is the same. Students who have Band period 6 on A-Days will have PE period 6 on B-Days. Here is the cycle of days: Day1-A, Day2-B, Day3-A, Day4-B, Day5-A, Day1-B, Day2-A, Day 3-B, Day4-A, Day5-B. The cycle repeats after that. You can see that since Day5 is followed by Day1, using "Odd" and "Even" to refer to the alternation of survey classes would be confusing. Grades 5 & 6 has an additional wrinkle in the survey rotation that includes digital literacy, but rather than go into that here, I'll address it with the teachers involved.

Blocks D and E are a combination of three things: (1) Lunch, (2) Workshop, (3) a 50-minute class period. Each grade level has the three elements in a slightly different configuration in order to rotate the grades through the lunch times. Grades 5 and 8 will always have their period 5 class during Block E and their workshop and lunch time during Block D. Grades 6 & 7 will always have class period 4 during Block D, and have lunch and workshop during Block E.

There was a wide variety of variables and considerations in the construction of this schedule. I believe it moves us in the right direction. My ultimate goal in creating a standard 7-period schedule for all is to be able to move scheduling into PowerSchool, automating much of this work. I think we can quickly get to the point where teachers can walk out of the building on the last day of the school year with next year's schedule and rosters in hand.

Here's the Podcast Version:

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