By Mary Ann McQueen
After considerable study, the administration at Marymount High School determined that less frequent but longer instructional “blocks” would be a boon for student learning and stress reduction.
Last year, Marymount adopted a new class schedule of three or four instructional periods that each lasted 75 minutes.
The extra time students have between class meetings provides them with more time to prepare for each learning session. Teachers, as well, have more time to prepare for each class and provide a more in-depth lesson.
Students are well prepared for class because they have more time to prepare. Their work is returned promptly because teachers have more time between class meetings to grade their work and to meet with students should they need help or clarification. Students seem to retain more, as well, because longer class sessions allow teachers to imbed the material in a variety of ways, including group work and collaboration.
Both instructors and students benefit from having time built into the school day to prepare for future lessons. For instructors, the new schedule is like a dream come true. The atmosphere is more relaxed because the time is organized and configured differently.
The decisions that were made regarding the schedule were bold, educationally sound and have “netted” great results. Last year Marymount was identified as an Apple Exemplary School because of its effective use of technology in the classroom coupled with the school’s “1 to 1” laptop program.
Both students and teachers contend that “the longer instructional sessions provide the time that is needed to use technology effectively in order to enhance the classroom experience.”
Mary Ann McQueen teaches social studies at Marymount High School. She holds a BA from Santa Clara University and an MA from Loyola Marymount University. She has been teaching since 1983 and joined the Marymount family in 1989.