Block scheduling can seem like downright torture when it comes to lesson planning. But with these tips, you'll be smooth sailing in no time!
Block Schedule Tip #1: Do not expect perfection.
Block Schedule Tip #2: Have a back up plan.
Block Schedule Tip #3: Consistence is Key.
One of my favorite quotes is "an expectation is a premeditated disappointment." It applies to so many parts of life, including... block schedules. If you expect everything to go smoothly, well, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. Having said that, you should always have a back up plan.
What is a block scheduling backup plan? This is a plan to help avoid the panic when you have done everything in your planner for the day and you still have 23 minutes remaining.
What types of things can I use as a scheduling backup plan? If you have access to YouTube, have a few videos in mind. For biology, you can count on the amoeba sisters to have every. single. topic. covered. But there's a plethora of fun YouTubers out there to help you out: SmarterEveryDay, Khan Academy, CrashCourse, and SciShow. Also some fun music videos dedicated to science: Arlevia Davis and sciencemusicvideos.
If YouTube simply isn't an option, whip out the text book and have them start defining the bold vocabulary words in the chapter, or better yet, have them start sketching the figures, too!
No text book OR YouTube? Have them write down 3 questions they have about the lesson today, as well as 3 things they've learned. The most fun way to do this is on post-it notes, and they stick questions on the wall on one side of the room, and things they've learned in another spot on the wall. If post-its aren't an option, a piece of paper is fine. In any case, these should be completely anonymous- no need to write their name down! Then, randomly start choosing questions they've written down to discuss with the class.
Now you may be thinking, "that's fine and dandy for if I find myself with extra time... but what about all the PLANNING to fill the entire 90 minute block?"
This is where consistence is key. Every day might be a little different, depending on where you are in the lesson. But, some things should (mostly) always be in there.
A sample schedule might look like this:
- Bellringer and homework check: 10 minutes
- Homework or quiz review from a previous lesson- 5-10 minutes (your can also use this time for kids to organize their passed back papers or notebooks).
- The "meat" of your lesson- 30-45 minutes (this may also include any assessments you have for the day or any labs).
- Lesson extension: coloring, demos, labs, graphing, case study, educational clips, online lesson OR moving on to a new topic- 20-40 minutes
- Assign homework as needed.
If you're new to block scheduling, or going from a 50 minute class period to a 90 minute class period, it's helpful to guesstimate how much time you think each stage of your lesson might take to plan accordingly.
This brings me to one last tip: STATIONS!
Stations are perfect for block schedules, because one set easily can take up at least 45 to 50 minutes. And because they are versatile, you can use them as the "meat" of your lesson, or as your lesson extension. Oh, and it's a student-led activity, so you're able to grade, organize, catch up, all that good stuff- while they work!
Hope these block scheduling bustin' tips help you out! Now go get 'em, tiger!