The success of the block

Minnehaha’s block schedule has affected students and teachers since it was put in action

“I had every single class, every single day,” said freshman Anna Zellie. “The homework I got was due the very next day and I feel like I rush it when that happens.” She was talking about North Heights Christian Academy, her old school.  Zellie’s classes were 40 minutes long and took place every day. Minnehaha has this type of traditional school day on Mondays, but the rest of the week is on a block schedule.

Zellie has welcomed Minnehaha Academy’s block schedule.

“You have two days to finish your homework for the classes you have that day,” she said. “It’s nice because then you can focus on your homework and get it all done.”

Freshman Elizabeth Cripe had a similar reaction to the block schedule.

“You have more time in class to learn things,” said Cripe, who came from Minnehaha’s South Campus. At the middle school students have a complicated schedule with eight classes with six a day, with four different rotations. Just like Zellie, Cripe liked having more time to do homework at the high school.

“You can ask teachers questions when you don’t understand something,” Cripe said.  “Also I like that you have class every other day, so if you have a busy night you don’t have to worry about the homework for the next day.”

Vice Principal Mike DiNardo likes that this schedule is more consistent than a traditional schedule, where classes needed to be rotated in order to cover all the material.

“The faculty didn’t like that kind of schedule,” said DiNardo, referring to the type of schedule where their classes met an inconsistent number of times per week. “They settled on this kind of schedule, in which we have three meetings per week.”

Cripe said that she liked the fact that the students had more time to learn things in class; DiNardo agrees.

“The block time creates longer periods of time where you can get more in-depth with your learning and not rush so much,” he said. “It also opened up time for flex, chapels and advisory.”

Minnehaha Academy chose to use the block schedule in the fall of 2000. DiNardo said that before the block schedule, every day was structured the way Mondays currently are.

“We realized we had no time in the day for any kind of meetings or clubs,” said DiNardo. “[It was] really stressful to have seven classes everyday, switching rooms. [There is] a lot of wasted time in that.”

Minnehaha initially thought about doing a four period block schedule, where there are four 80-minute classes every day for a whole semester.

“The problem was with languages, music or certain classes. People didn’t feel that was good to have a class for half a year and then maybe not have it again for a year and a half,” said DiNardo.

A year after Minnehaha Academy switched the schedule, students took a survey on what they thought of the block schedule.

“Students loved it,” said DiNardo. “A lot of people worried they wouldn’t like it because it’s new. Now they wouldn’t want to switch back.”

Guidance counselor Lauren Bae has not been here since the introduction of this schedule, but she came from a college where the schedules are pretty similar to the current schedule pattern.

“I feel like it gives students opportunity to really understand the material and work with it,” said Bae. “I haven’t heard any complaints about this, and this is an office that gets many complaints.” Being in a counseling office, Dr. Bae has heard many complaints from students about friends, teachers or classes.

“I would think that some teachers would like it because instead of just giving information, now you have a chance to apply it.”

DiNardo, who has been at Minnehaha now for 17 years, has had time to see what other faculty members think about it.

“The teachers love it,” said DiNardo. “And the teachers change the way they teach because of it. They do more interactive stuff.”

DiNardo and Zellie have just about the same thought about the teachers having more time to interact with their students.

“The way they can interact with us is better,” said Zellie, who likes that students can work more in-depth with the teachers, instead of just learning the material and moving on. It’s better off for both students and teachers and with that said it appears as if block scheduling is here to stay.

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