Last year my school implemented a new schedule. We went from a six period per day, eight periods per term rotation schedule (don't ask) to a seven period per term modified block schedule. Basically what this comes out to on a normal week is three days with all seven classes (45 minutes per class) and two days of block classes (80 minutes per class). The block days meet with four classes one day and three the next.
There was a lot of fear and anxiety that came with the new schedule and it does have its downfalls, but overall, I've gotta say, I'm digging it. It suits subjects that benefit from every day meetings (every class meets four times per week), as well as class that require longer class periods (i.e. science labs). It's kind of like having the best of both worlds. Now that we're in year two of the modified block schedule, I've begun to look forward to the block classes.
Today was our first block day of the year. The pace of the block days is so much more relaxed than the seven period days. It was nice to follow the madness of the first day of classes with a more leisurely schedule.
I tend to treat the block days in much the same way as I treat non-blocks in theology. I rarely spend an entire class lecturing, so I don't have to worry about overloading the kids with info on the block days. I think more in terms of variety. A typical block session in one of my courses may include: a longer prayer (often an inspirational song or video), an individual work assignment (maybe 20 minutes), a full class follow up discussion (25 minutes), and then some kind of creative assignment that allows them to move around and talk to others. Add in a minute here or there for transitioning from working on their laptops to another medium and an 80 minute class truly seems to fly by.
I had all of my preps today (because life couldn't possibly take it easy on me and balance out my schedule between the block days). The nice thing about that is that I have no planning to do for tomorrow since I'll only have one class (besides yearbook) and they will be doing the same assignments I already prepared for the other section for today.
Since I had no prep work for tomorrow, I was actually able to leave at semi-decent time. 9.5 hours today.
Oh yeah. Today I used the icebreaker I told you about in this post. I had only planned to use it with the sophomores, but they had so much fun with it, I ended up using it for the seniors and frosh as well. I highly recommend this one. It was almost as fun as the silent interviews from yesterday.