Thursday, 27 October 2016

Greater Customization Through Blocked Scheduling


Greenwood’s new state-of-the-art science labs not only encourage inquiry and discovery, but also give our teachers more opportunities to customize our science program.

Blocked scheduling is one way in which science teachers have been taking advantage of our new spaces. In a blocked schedule, multiple sections of a class - in this case, Grade 9 Science - meet at the same time. Some of the benefits of this approach include:

  • Grouping students based on readiness
  • Using space and teachers most effectively
  • Incorporating student choice, both in content and learning style

What does a blocked approach look like in practice? Here’s how science teachers Evan Morrison, Julie Way, Anne Wellnhofer and Alan Kraguljac used it to help Grade 9 students investigate characteristic physical properties and evidence of chemical change over a series of three periods.

Grouping Students Based on Readiness


After assessing students' prior knowledge using a quiz, teachers determined whether
students were ready to start the labs or should complete a teacher-led warm-up.

The focus of these three periods was a multi-lab circuit. Everyone in the two Grade 9 Science sections finished the circuit having completed five mandatory labs, but how they got there was different for each student.

Before students jumped into the labs, teachers assessed their prior knowledge using a Flubaroo quiz. This quiz provided both students and teachers with instant feedback, indicating which students were ready to start the labs and which students should first complete a teacher-led warm-up activity.

Students who completed the five mandatory labs with time to spare had the option to move on to extension opportunities building on the core concepts.


Using Space and Teachers Effectively


Three teachers were on hand to help students throughout the multi-lab circuit.

Seven lab stations were set up across two different rooms, with students free to move between the rooms as needed. One teacher was stationed in each of the two rooms, while a third floated between the spaces to check in with students and answer questions. 


Incorporating Student Choice


Our new science labs provide space for several workstations.

A blocked approach provides students with significant flexibility. Grade 9 students were able to choose:

  • Their pace when working through the labs
  • The order in which they completed the labs
  • Their preferred space for working

Students also had the option to watch online demos of some procedures.


The Results


All students finished these three periods having completed the five mandatory labs, and took away a thorough understanding of the core concepts and detailed notes. Students who wished to build on their knowledge had the opportunity to do so with extension opportunities.

“Giving the kids the flexibility to move at their own pace through the activities worked out really well,” says Julie Way.

1 comment:

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