Showing posts with label block scheduling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label block scheduling. Show all posts

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.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Creating Historical Lenses

In June the Canadian history (CHC2D) team met to further adapt personalized and blended learning strategies to a WWII unit. While the Second World War is always a popular area of study for students of CHC2D, there were opportunities to leverage considerable student interest and engagement with new strategies that seek to further enhance their critical thinking skills. To succeed in these goals the team designed the following blueprint.

A Blocked and Blended Approach

Over the past two years the CHC2D team has been able to develop a streamed approach to the 1920s unit of the course. A streamed approach is one where students are offered a number of perspectives, or lenses, from which to study and understand the period. In the 1920s, they could choose between studying the period through the lens of prohibition, the women’s movement, or the economy. This was successful as we were able to use blocked scheduling (2-3 Canadian History classes happening at the same time) to allow students to move to a dedicated classroom covering their perspective. It is this blocked and streamed approach that we will implement for the newly developed WWII unit.

Authentic and Experiential Learning

The next step was to develop three streams that we could offer students for the unit that would provide them with authentic and experiential learning opportunities. We decided on designing streams that would offer students the chance to view WWII from the lens of living history and public memory, the holocaust, or technology/tactics/battles. These options represent varying historical perspectives and multiple entry points for analysis.

Promoting Historical Literacy

Last, we developed new assessment tools that would account for a wide range of student learning. This included integrating methods of assessing the historical thinking concepts, which are critical thinking tools that aim to foster historical literacy.


Working as a team on developing this unit allowed for an immediate and effective exchange of ideas. We are still in the process of making changes to the WWII unit as we prepare for its launch in early 2016 and are excited to communicate the results in future blog posts.

Eugene Henry
History Teacher

Monday, 20 January 2014

Math Mix 7

At Greenwood, the three Grade 7 math classes meet at the same time, on the same day, but with three different teachers. In fact, the three teachers teach their math classes on the same floor, all in classrooms next to each other.

I’m one of the Grade 7 math teachers, and I have loved being part of this program. This “block scheduled” format allows us to mix and mingle our students based on student interest, or on the level of support needed on a topic. Sometimes, the mixing is done at random.


One day last year, two of the Grade 7 math classes reshuffled and grouped students based on gender. Students were tasked with assembling a brownie recipe based on their calculations of fractions, which allowed the students to work on a math problem with peers with whom they don’t normally work.

This year, after evaluating a geometry assignment, we split up our classes based on the different concepts for which students needed additional support. Rather than teaching a “one size fits all” class on the topic, which can often lead to disengagement or stress, we grouped students by readiness and were able to keep them engaged.

The re-shuffling of our classes happens about once per unit, so as to not disrupt the structure and routine of the class. The Grade 7 math team has found that students find these sessions engaging, useful and fun. In addition, the Grade 7 teachers have appreciated the opportunity to get to know even more of our wonderful Grade 7 students!

Kelly Smolinski
Math Teacher