Thursday, March 03, 2011

Teaching in the Block

Are you
The Sage on the Stage
The Guide on the Side

“Teachers should guide without dictating, and participate without dominating.“
C.B. Neblette

The greatest detriment to the block schedule is the teacher who refuses to vary methodologies.  Concerns raised by students include statements like  “90 minutes of Teacher ‘X’ will drive me nuts.”, “Teacher “Y” only lectures, I can’t sit still for that long.” 

I have found in that for best results for teaching in the block, students perform best when they are provided with the opportunity to change position in the classroom, change partners or groups and are allowed ample opportunity to practice concepts in a variety of methods.  Students tend to understand complex concepts when all parts are presented in a single lesson.  Because material can be practiced within the same time period it is being taught. Practice tends to mean more since students can ask questions and get immediate feedback. Due to this students tend to retain the information for a longer period of time.

Therefore, in designing your lesson plans please try to divide the 90 minute period into sections.  And provide students opportunities to work in different groups within each period.  This will overcome student restlessness and also eliminate interpersonal differences that arise within the class period and might otherwise cause a problem for the entire period.  

  • Present new material.
  • Associate past material to present.
  • Identify key points.
  • Discuss homework.


  • Group design/presentations (rules, timelines, presentations, etc...)                           
  • Lab work
  • Demonstrations
  • Handouts/Worksheets
  • Practice
  • Partner teach
  • Concept mapping
  • Jig Saw

  • Have several grouping patterns posted so students know their groupings.
  • Allow for several different partners and groups of 3, 4 ,5 or 6  as well large groupings where half the class and a quarter of the class can be grouped.
  • This is important for students to have the opportunity to synthesize all sections of the day into one concept and to create the bridge to the next period.                                                      

Keep in mind the students of this generation live in a video world.  Everything is a sound byte, a video clip, all problems are solved in 30 minutes of which 8 minutes are commercials.  It is okay to talk during a movie because you can rewind if you miss something important. Memorizing is not necessary because everything is a click away. Teaching in the style that we learned in is not necessarily the way that these students can or will learn.

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