A big change is coming to FTHS in the 2018-2019 school year: block scheduling. Both students and staff alike have contrasting opinions on this new alteration, but one thing is for sure, and that is there are many lingering or unanswered questions and concerns amongst all. I personally met with our principal, Mrs. Higley to go into detail about what changes block scheduling will bring to Freehold Township High School and what to expect going into next school year. In addition to this article, the administration will be giving a formal presentation to all underclassmen during the week of June 4th about block scheduling.
Let’s begin with the basics: with block scheduling, students will still take their normal seven classes. There will be a seven-block rotation – A, B, C, D, E , F, and G Days. Every class period will move one period down on the schedule every day, resulting in a consistent and new rotation of classes every week. Fear not, though, schedules in the block format will be available on Genesis and will look something like this:
This will be beneficial because students will never have the same class at the same time of day. So, if you find it hard to concentrate in the mornings or in the afternoons, you won’t be falling behind in one class solely due to the time of day it takes place. This will also benefit athletes who often miss classes at the end of the day. With block scheduling, athletes won’t be missing the same class every time, given that as of right now classes at the end of the day are what they tend to miss the most.
Students will have a total of four classes in the morning, then lunch, and then three classes in the afternoon. One morning class and one afternoon class will get dropped every day. Each class period will also be 67 minutes long, as elongating the time in a class period is believed to hopefully focus more on student-centered learning and more productivity in the classroom. Students will be able to delve deeper into concepts in one class period. This allows things such as projects or presentations to eat up less class time because fewer class periods will be needed to finish everything.
The focus on student-centered learning will also come with an impact on curriculum. Much of the “fluff” that is taught in the current curriculum will be removed, and students will be able to focus more on the key concepts and ideas that the class emphasizes, thus enhancing the values the courses hold. Instead of having a course that is extremely broad and pinpoints every single little thing – which may not be 100% necessary to learn in terms of the whole scheme of the course – classes will focus on those key, core concepts that define the type of class and actually matter.
With the longer class periods, though, comes the issue of assemblies or other events that could take up valuable educational time. To resolve this issue, assemblies will be blocked out for the whole year ahead of time. More flexibility to do assemblies is possible with block scheduling because as of right now, periods one and eleven get hit the most. With the new schedule those periods will still be hit, but the same class may not be going on every time. Therefore, certain classes will not lose as much instruction time throughout the year due to assemblies as they would with a regular schedule.
On a similar note, snow days will be have no effect on the schedule. Since all block days are planned out for the whole year ahead of time, if there is a school cancellation for any reason the letter day would not change. That’s beneficial, because students will come back to school assured as to what letter day it is and won’t have to switch their schedule.
A definite area of question for a majority of the student body is how lunch will be handled. Since all students in the school will be eating lunch at the same time, there’s no doubt that some concern will arise about how that many people will be able to effectively eat lunch at the same time. Here’s some information about how lunches will work with the new block schedule:
–There will be three main areas where students will be able to eat lunch: the cafeteria, the auxiliary/walleyball gym, and the main gym. Other areas may be made available to students as well during the nicer weather, such as the courtyards by the lunchroom or the courtyard between C and D-Hall, for which tables are being ordered.
–For about the first six months or so of the new school year, freshmen will be given the cafeteria in hopes of making the transition from middle school to high school a bit easier. Attempts to keep the senior section in the back open will be made, though. Students who eat in the main gym will be eating on the bleachers; there will be no regular lunch tables there. As for the auxiliary gym, lunch tables are being ordered as well that will be stored in the newly-built closet near the gym, so students can still use the gyms before and after.
–Hot food will be sold both in the main gym and in the cafeteria due to the high demands a block lunch brings. In addition, a snack cart will be set up in the auxiliary gym. Taking these measures ensures that the already long lunch and snack lines in the cafeteria now don’t become even longer due to more people eating at one time.
It’s obvious that many changes in the day-to-day routine of FTHS students will take place, however there are measures being put in place to ensure a smooth transition from a normal schedule for all grade levels.
As you all may have noticed, there are newly-installed televisions located at various locations around the school, though they’re not there to just look pretty. The televisions will have monthly calendars projected and will tell students what block day it is to avoid confusion. Along with that, other information such as important meeting dates or school events will be shown throughout the school day, similar to what is on them now.
A different and more time-consuming change will also come to FTHS due of block scheduling: movable and “active” furniture, which allows for students to move around in the classroom and to make learning fun. For things like group projects, being able to move desks and chairs around will make not only working together easier, but will make it more enjoyable. This concept will be similar to that of the Think Tank or the types of furniture currently in Mr. Grimes’s room. It will take some time, though, to hopefully and potentially equip every classroom with those types of learning materials.
Probably the biggest change of block scheduling, though, comes with a change in permitted absences. The maximum yearly absence amount will be reduced from 18 days to 14 days. For a ¾-year course, the amount will change from 14 to 12. A half-year course will change from 9 to 7, and quarter-year classes such as health will change from 6 to 4. Needless to say, students will most likely be more motivated to come to school given the new attendance requirements with block scheduling.
Overall, block scheduling is going to be a drastic and long-lasting change here at Freehold Township High School. While there may be many mixed opinions about it now, next year will definitely be the time to see if block scheduling truly holds up to the high and beneficial expectations people such as our principal, Ms. Higley, hold for it.
“I’m excited for it, I really am. I was on the committee for it, so I definitely believe in it. I think sometimes we need to get deeper, that sometimes our classes are making us not think enough. So that’s what I’m really excited about; I think it will really help with the student-centered learning, I think it will help with the depth of knowledge, and helping kids think more. Honestly, it more resembles what you’re going to see in college. I think it’s preparing the kids a lot more for real life than for what we have now. The current schedule is one that’s been around for 200 years, so that tells you something. I think it’s time for a change.”