Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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Oct. 26, 2014

The clock must rotate faster

by Robert Pfefferle, Online Sports Editor
At Montgomery Blair High School, classes are 90 minutes long. For some students, those 90 minutes can be a long, grueling battle against their urge to fall asleep. Blair is home to almost 3,000 students, or, one might say, 3,000 sleep-deprived zombies. Moreover, according to WebMD, almost 1 in 10 school children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which means about 300 kids at Blair are drugged up on Adderall or Ritalin. But on top of these students, there are tons of other students who have trouble focusing on a single subject for an hour and a half. It's time for Blair to drop the block schedule, and move to an eight-period day.
Blair students sit through grueling 90 minute class periods every day. Ben Lickerman
Blair students sit through grueling 90 minute class periods every day.

Block scheduling was invented with good intentions. The goal is to allow teachers to have more time with their students, exposing them to a variety of teaching methods and allowing them to learn more in-depth concepts. However, as many Blair students will agree, this is simply not happening. Instead, students are typically lectured for almost the entirety of the class, and if they're lucky, they might get to watch a video. But is watching a video really considered a worthy teaching method? Most teachers play corny old videos that give students an excuse to either look at their phones or to clock out and fall asleep.

Another goal of block scheduling is to give students more time to study and do their homework at home. However, with the large amount of honors and AP classes that many Blair students take, students are going home with huge amounts of homework anyway. If Blair had an eight-period day, students wouldn't need to have nearly as much homework if they were going to class every day and reinforcing the concepts from the previous day. And if students are reinforcing concepts 24 hours after they learned it, that time frame is significantly shorter than the 36 hours that students are taking to crack open their homework.

In an eight-period day, each class would last for only 45 minutes. And, while most Blair teachers teach through lecturing, classes need to be trimmed down to 45 minutes. High-school students have the attention spans of puppies, which mean they simply cannot focus for 90 minutes, especially if a large portion of that is spent listening to a teacher talk. Salman Khan, creator of Khan Academy, wrote an article explaining how long lectures are completely ineffective. No matter how good the teacher, or how engaging the subject, after a certain length of time students will fall out of focus for four or five minutes at a time. The 90-minute class periods encourage students to daydream and check their phones because their brains do not want to focus for long periods of time. If an eight-period schedule was introduced, students could have a break and take their minds off school during the changing of classes, instead of during class.

Blair's block-scheduling has left students sitting through drastically long class. As stated in a Huffington Post article , students in long class periods are more inclined to slack off, and that they are not mentally capable of focusing for long periods of time. It's time for Blair to switch to an eight-period day.

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  • What? on October 27, 2014 at 11:53 AM
    This article is not really taking a lot into account. First off, the overall goal of the school is to get kids into college. Believe it or not the stupid 45 minute thing isn't in college they are usually a minimum of 90 mins. Second off, have you thought of the time it takes to switch classes and get settled at the beginning of class? That is a lot of wasted time every day. In addition, for those of us on sports teams, the block schedule is super helpful. It allows me at least to not do as much homework on a day I have athletics. I see your points but you didn't counter any of the ones I have here.
  • Nah on October 28, 2014 at 4:56 PM
    I'm not so sure this is a good idea, either. Block schedules are handy for arts and athletics classes, since these activities are better done in long chunks. Back when it had a block schedule, my middle school used to do this cool weekly project in media class. When we switched to a 7-class day, there was no longer time for the project. Arts classes need a lot of time to set up and clean up equipment.
  • What What (View Email) on November 3, 2014 at 10:06 AM
    @ What?

    That is not true. I am in college right now and have two classes that meet three times a week for just 50 minutes. Coming from a school with block scheduling, I have found these shortened classes to be quite effective and easier to focus in.
  • KEEP BLOCK SCHEDULE on November 27, 2014 at 10:04 PM
    NO, NO, NOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! You absolutely cannot get red of the block schedule. Our homework amounts absolutely DO NOT change. At schools with 8-period days, the homework amount is the same as our block schedule. For example, you have science for 90 minutes, and have 1 sheet of hw. at a normal 8-period school, you have science for 45 minutes but have the same amount of homework. maybe a little smaller, but definitely not proportional to our block schedule. You do not have half the time of homework.
    Also, I like the long periods. a teacher can go through a lecture or lesson deeply, answering student's questions and resolving confusion on the lesson. in 45 minutes, you cannot thoroughly make sure the student understands everything.
    As for people who cannot concentrate, MCPS should instead decrease the school day (which, silly me, cannot happen) or make students wake later, so that students can get more sleep in order to concentrate.
  • no. on December 26, 2014 at 8:54 PM
    just because kids have ADHD do not mean they're on meds. that's so false. also this isn't funny- why was it published as a humor piece
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