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Academic Blog

Putting New Ideas to Work

Mark Blaisdell
As faculty continue to develop their Exploration mini-courses for next year, some faculty have also created opportunities to teach in longer blocks. Sixth grade team members Tracy Blaisdell and Rick Zeller recently combined class periods on consecutive days to create extended class time. Tracy, who has taught in a block schedule previous to her arrival at Derryfield was excited by the opportunity, “Meeting for longer periods on alternate days helped students more deeply engage with the topics at hand In a variety of ways. Students had more time to ask questions, share their progress, do hands-on activities and apply and extend their understanding before the class ended. They had time to work collaboratively and individually which is important considering the differentiated nature of the class. Having more time to practice in class and get their final questions answered had the added benefit, for many of my students, of helping them approach the homework more confidently.” Rick added that he felt he could teach a more “complete lesson with a beginning middle and end.” Both shared that their sixth graders had no trouble staying engaged with the extra time. “It’s just a matter of building in multiple activities and small breaks for transitions,” explained Rick. Faculty will continue to share their wisdom in preparation for next year’s schedule as well as receive more direct training this year during professional development time.
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