During the spring of 2007 I had the pleasure of working with Joy Lea, principal of the new Faiss Middle School in the Clark County Schools (Las Vegas) in Nevada. Together we adapted what we call the “Four-Block” schedule for her school staffing and population (See chapter 4 of our book “Scheduling Strategies for Middle Schools” for a detailed discussion of this schedule). The schedule includes four 80-minute instructional blocks, a 40-minute Intervention/Enrichment period and time for lunch. Students receive an 80-minute instructional block of language arts and an 80-minute block of mathematics daily. In addition students are taught social studies and science every other day for 80 minutes and have a fourth block for elective classes and physical education. Teachers instruct three 80-minute blocks daily and the 40-minute I/E period. 80 minutes was reserved for teachers’ team and individual planning.
This schedule provides a minimum of 66 2/3 % of instructional time in core classes. If you think of the schedule as a 9-period schedule: two daily periods are allocated to LA, two to math, one to social studies, one to science, two to encore classes and one (the I/E) can be either core or enrichment. Thus all students receive a minimum of 2/3 of their time in core instruction (6 of 9 periods), and some students receive more core instruction (7 of 9) because for them the I/E period is devoted to core instruction as well.
During the 40-minute Intervention/Enrichment period (they called it “E-Time”) students were grouped based upon formative assessment data to receive instructional interventions in language arts or mathematics or to receive enrichment activities. Groupings were reconfigured every two-three weeks as newer performance data became available.
By all accounts the school was very successful; they achieved Adequate Yearly Progress in all areas but the Special Education sub-group in mathematics. See attached state report. Joy also compiled other data to share with interested parties.Faiss Report.
This year several improvements have been made to the schedule that are worth sharing with others. Last year common grade level planning time occurred for all grade levels every day. This year Joy Lea and her assistant principal, David Osterhuber, revised the planning schedule so that on “B” days teachers plan together as a grade level and on “A” days teachers plan together in cross-grade-level departments. This should provide an excellent opportunity for cross-grade level discipline-based articulation. A side benefit of this plan is the possibility of creating multi-grade level band and choir classes on the the departmental planning day. Links to the schedule and school website follow.
What do you think?