B-P to start block schedule

BROADALBIN — When students return next week for the start of the 2017-18 school year, the bells indicating the start of a new class period will ring less frequently as Broadalbin-Perth High School implements a block schedule featuring four 74-minute class periods per day. The new block schedule replaces the old eight-period schedule of 41-minute class periods.

“There are a lot of benefits to the block schedule compared with the schedule we have now,” said BPHS Principal Mark Brooks. “With longer class periods, there’s more time for teachers and students to cover material and complete lessons. With half the number of classes each day, both teachers and students can better focus on what they’re doing each day. Plus, longer class periods are more in line with what students will experience in college, so the schedule will better prepare them for the next level.”

BPHS will ease students and teachers into the new schedule when classes resume Thursday. On the first day of school, students will attend school-wide assemblies, make any last-minute changes to their course schedules, and get answers to any lingering questions about the block scheduling system. The following day, Friday, students will visit each of their eight classes to meet their teachers, listen to introductory messages, and collect course syllabi. The first day of the block schedule will be Sept. 11.

Under the new schedule, students will still have the opportunity to take up to eight classes per semester, but they will attend most classes every-other day rather than daily. The new schedule also features a daily 40-minute Advisory period, during which students have the opportunity to meet with their teachers to get extra help and catch up on missed classwork. The Advisory period will also be used for such activities as school-wide assemblies, strictly reserving the scheduled class time for instruction.

Teachers and administrators at BPHS began researching possible alternatives to the traditional eight-period class schedule in fall 2015 in an effort to address one of the goals in the district’s long-term comprehensive plan, “Innovate” — “Institute an alternative schedule at the secondary level that maximizes existing human and capital resources.” The school’s scheduling committee included 20 teachers who met monthly to share research and discuss possible options. Committee members visited several area schools, including Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Ballston Spa, Guilderland, Saratoga Springs and Queensbury, that use various forms of alternative schedules before deciding on the traditional block schedule.

During the 2016-17 school year, teachers participated in professional development opportunities related to teaching strategies for a block schedule, as well as project-based learning, an effective teaching method that can make use of the longer class periods. The school also practiced with a block schedule on four half days throughout the school year.

Parents and students who have questions about the block schedule are encouraged to contact the school counseling office.

By Patricia Older

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