Four-Block Middle School Schedule with Intervention/Enrichment Period and Alternating Grade Level and Department Common Planning Time

August 29, 2008 – 4:45 am

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.

Faiss MS Schedule 2008-9

Faiss MS Time Schedule

Faiss MS Preparation and Collaboration Schedule

Faiss MS Website

What do you think?


School Scheduling Associates Website

  1. 27 Responses to “Four-Block Middle School Schedule with Intervention/Enrichment Period and Alternating Grade Level and Department Common Planning Time”

  2. Trying to create a schedule for a grade 5-12 classroom. I was thinking of 4 classes a semester. Need to include exploritory/specials for middle school. Any suggesstions would be welcomed.

    By kmc on Aug 6, 2009

  3. Hi,

    I am trying to create a Four Block schedule with three 80 min. blocks and two 40 min. blocks for a 7th & 8th Middle School that is housed within a K-8 school. We have 3 homerooms for each grade level, and need to accommodate specials (art,music,gym,Spanish). Any ideas?

    By Colleen Lugauskas on Aug 18, 2009

  4. Any suggestions for a 7th and 8th grade school block schedule? 600 students with 11 encore teachers (pe included in this number)

    By scot on Dec 7, 2009

  5. Our school is doing the block scheduling with 90 minute blocks. Double math and english and science and history every other day. We are trying to find a way to convince the staff that our kids would benefit from having a schedule that has eighth grade going to their elective first block rather than at the end of the day. Looking for good data that proves this would be beneficial especially for our eighth graders. Any suggestions????

    By Chris on Jan 12, 2010

  6. I doubt there is any such research. The only thing I could suggest would be to look at the brain research that suggests adolescents aren’t too with it early in the morning. Often this research is used to suggest that high school should start later in the morning. To my knowledge there is only one research study (from Minn. if I recall right) that actually compared different start times for HS and found the later start more beneficial for HS students.

    By rettig on Jan 13, 2010

  7. My school has had a block like this for 4 years and while our scores went up, overall there was great dissatisfaction among the staff about the lack of value placed on science and history classes. We are going back to regular scheduling next year, with an added intervention slot. As a math teacher, I will miss this block scheduling.

    By Rai on Mar 18, 2010

  8. Who takes the students to lunch? I guess what I am asking is, do the core teachers have unencumbered lunch, or do they supervise and eat at the same time?

    By Wally on Mar 23, 2010

  9. We are on a 5 block day at our middle school. (6/7/8 grade with 330 students with 22 staff members and several crossover elective staff from the high school) Each block is 65 minutes long with science and social studies meeting every other day. We have built into our schedule a DEAR time (Drop Everything and Read: 30 minutes) where all students report to the auditorium and read. Teachers then have opportunities for tutorials, RTI (Response to Intervention), Gifted and Talented, Teaming, Parent conferences, etc. At the end of the day, all students are in an enrichment( 30 minutes) whereas they are to read or work on homework. Electives such as 7/8 choir, GT, and our Jazz Band meet during this time as well. We attempt to schedule students struggling in core areas to a teacher that can help with remediation. During the fall, this is our pep rally time and on game days, our student/athletes can leave early for out of town games.
    Our test scores (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, TAKS) are very good. We have been on a type of modified block schedule for 8 years.
    With all this said, our science teachers would like to meet with their students every day. We have been exploring another scheduling option but without going back to a 8 period day I am at a loss as to how this will work with limited staff.

    By Ronnie on Apr 1, 2011

  10. Hello, we are attempting to incorporate a 5 block schedule for students in grades 6/7/and 8th grades. Each block will be for 65 or 70 minutes a block starting at 8:20am and ending at 3:29pm including a 25 minute lunch period. Can you give me some advise? Thanks

    By T. K Green on Jul 18, 2011

  11. We are looking for a great example of a block schedule for a building now just 7/8 grade students. Equal number of students with a 90 minute class. All examples would be appreciated.

    By G. Bunnell on Sep 16, 2011

  12. Here’s a schedule I helped design for a school in Northern Virginia. It includes blocks of daily LA and math, a block shared by SS and SC that is alternated by semesters, and two periods of encore classes rotated on a three day cycle, which allows students participate in three encore classes, each of which meets two days of three. Metz MS

    By rettig on Sep 17, 2011

  13. Every other day block for middle school science is miserable. We lose our kids for an hour and a half each week. Trying to get through the content in that time is nearly impossible, they get dumped with homework, and there is no time to digest the material. It’s great if you want a lab day, keeping in mind that you really are not getting ‘more time’ – the overlap has to be made up somewhere. My students hate it and complain constantly that the pace is too fast. Not much I can do since our tests are determined by laptop availability.

    By John on Dec 4, 2011

  14. Need 6/7/8 middle school schedule. 1,100 students. Arrive 7:00 and dismiss at 2:30. Need intervention block. Students can have alternate schedule. extra time for math and English. exploratory and pe can be shortened (40-45 minutes) Would like 4/5/ block. Going towards PLC environment. Any advice?

    By Angela on Mar 19, 2012

  15. Am looking for schools/school districts in PA that use the Canady & Rettig master schedule model in elementary schools. Model includes uninterrupted core instruction in LA, M, SS/Science and the use of the I/E period.

    By Paula on May 5, 2012

  16. Just curious about scheduling 4 lunch periods into a 7 period day…is there an easy way???

    By Jeff on May 24, 2012

  17. Two ways to do it; the first is much easier than the second, but it also sucks more time out of the schedule. Simply make lunch the same length as a period and operate an 8-period day with the middle four periods serving as both class periods and lunch periods. In your computer scheduler you must request lunch as a period.

    The second way is more difficult; you schedule four separate,shorter lunch periods around three academic periods. Because this causes an overlap of periods, it is necessary to code each pattern of periods and lunch separately. Here’s a link to an example of this way: 7 Period Day 4 Lunches

    By rettig on May 29, 2012

  18. I am currently at a school with this principal and she very quickly instituted the the “E” time that rotates on a constant basis and it is very confusing and the periods are so short, they are not effective. No direction was given for the instruction that was supposed to be given. Some things really do look better on paper. There were no guidelines given for data collection and there was none. It was not a good plan. If you want to use this method, more planning needs to happen beforehand.

    By Karen on Jun 7, 2012

  19. We are opening up a brand new school with pre-k-8th grades. I am helping schedule the junior high 6-8 grades. We have approximately 27-6th graders, 26-7th graders, and 10-8th graders. We have only four teachers that will teach ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies. An additional teacher will be teaching PE.
    We must have 380 minutes of instructional class time per day. Here is the problem these 4 teachers must teach 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. Each one of these teachers can teach an elective as well. Please help with scheduling. Lunch should be included with 25 minutes.
    ELA must include Language Arts and Reading (100 minutes a day)

    By Tammie Santos on Jun 21, 2012

  20. I am trying to make a parallel block schedule with four kindergarten and four first grade teachers and then three teachers at grades 2-5. I also have a half time art teacher each semester flopping with a computer lab teacher. My library was also cut to three hours only in the morning. Any suggestions would be helpful. We have used a rotation schedule for the last twelve years.

    By Tracy on Jul 5, 2012

  21. Need a serious guru for this…

    6-8 MS Schedule needed:
    1 period for at least 80 Min ELA
    1 period for at least 60 Min Math
    1 period for Sci and Soc – not necessarily
    60 min
    1 period for PE/Health daily for all
    2 periods for 2 choices of AVID,
    Band/String, French/Spanish, Unified
    1 30 min period for lunch at all levels
    1 period for Intervention/Enrichment for

    I know, right? Help! Thinking outside of the box is highly encouraged.

    By Justin on Aug 29, 2012

  22. Need a schedule for a 5-8 middle school currently with 8 periods for grades 6-8. 5th grade does not currently work on a period basis.

    Grade 6-8 each take 2 of the 8 periods for exploratory. 5th grade ends up with what is left over.

    6-8 academics are: Math, Reading, LA, Science, SS study hall and 2 exploratories.

    Again the problem is that 5th grade gets exploratories wherever there is a hole. We want common planning time for 5th grade.

    By Bruce on Nov 2, 2012

  23. I teach third grade with spec ed inclusion. Our principal agreed to let us ability group during Enrichment and Intervention at the end of the day for one hour. We ability grouped the kids and the kids switched between classroom/teachers. We have decided that will not work. Then we thought we could add a half hour of E & I onto the end of our reading block, then a half hour E & I onto the end of our math block. This will unfortunately mess with the spec ed inclusion teacher schedules. Aggghhh! We have more students qualifying this 9 weeks for intervention but only have 2 intervention teachers for the whole school! Is there anyone in a similar situation or that could possibly help me figure this out? We are trying to do what’s best for our kids, but this scheduling is driving us nuts!
    Thanks a bunch 🙂

    By Kim on Nov 16, 2012

  24. to: Justin who posted on Aug. 29, 2012.

    Did you have any luck developing this schedule?

    We are in a very similar situation looking for a new schedule, and would be interested in hearing about your schedule. Or any other schedule that is close that works.



    By Pete on Sep 20, 2013

  25. HI
    I am doing a school project and i have to search for reasons why kids want to change school schedules. I was thinking about Middle Schools should have block schedule. Do you think it would be good for a Middle School to have block scheduling?

    By Alicia S on Feb 24, 2014

  26. Hello,

    I need a middle school schedule which has these parameters: (7 or 8 period day)

    I/E period 30-40 minutes
    core classes 50-55 minutes
    planning time 45 minutes
    student lunch 25-30 minutes
    teacher lunch 30 minute

    By Kathy on Apr 8, 2014

  27. Looking for a Middle School Schedule like Justins, 2012

    1 period at least 80 min. ELA
    1 period at least 60 min. Math
    1 period for Sci and SS – not necessarily 60 minutes
    2 periods Encore
    1 lunch period 30 minutes
    1 30 minute I/E for all

    School day begins at 7:30 and ends at 2:56

    By Bev on Jan 11, 2017

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