The New High School Schedule

Abigail Fitzpatrick and Chloe Bilo

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This fall, Ipswich High School implemented a brand new schedule for the first time since 1994. The previous schedule, consisting of four blocks each day and semester long classes, was replaced with a brand new schedule. The new schedule has seven rotating blocks, and students have five of the seven blocks each day. The new schedule has also replaced the Directed Study block, which was a 90 minute block each day, with a new Resource block, which is 70 minutes three days a week. The new schedule also includes fixed days with the same classes each day. An example of this is, every Monday students will have the same classes.

The decision to implement a new schedule came from all the  predicted benefits which are: limiting the gaps of time between subjects, students not having a “heavy semester” and a “light semester”, and R blocks will give student access to STEM and STEAM learning and/or enrichment opportunities.  To gain insight on people’s opinions of the new schedule, we asked staff and students multiple questions about  their opinions on the new schedule.

We asked staff and students, “ If you could change one aspect of the new schedule, what would you change?” Mr. Carovillano, the Vice Principal of the  high school, thought that “we need to make better use of R block.  It’s a great opportunity for fun and enrichment and I think our new time management software that we are starting next week should help organize it.” To gain the viewpoint of students, we asked Alyssa Cordes and Jessica Herrington their opinions on the new schedule. Alyssa said that she, “would change R block, [and] would prefer directed. In some classes, it’s basically directed 3 times a week, and in other classes students are assigned work. And Monday R block is at the end of the day, which doesn’t make much sense.” Jessica Herrington agreed with Alyssa, and she “would change R blocks because it is basically a longer directed. It is also annoying that we have different rooms each day for our R blocks.” Finally, to gain the viewpoint of teachers, we interviewed Mr. Ames. Mr. Ames said that, “R blocks would be the first thing that I would change.” Most of the staff and students agreed that the new period R block needs to be revised.

To see which schedule staff and students prefer, we asked Sophie Miller, Ariel Kenny, Steven Moore, and Mr. Ames, “What schedule do you prefer, the new one or the old one, and why?” Sophie prefers, “the old one, because I liked having the same classes every day.” Ariel also prefers, “The old one, mostly because I’m used to it, but also because I get mixed up. Like what classes do I have today or what homework do I need to do.” Steven, having a similar viewpoint to his peers, said he preferred “the old schedule because I like having the same classes each day, and knowing what homework I had to do each night.” When Mr. Ames was asked this question, his preference was, “neither [of the schedules], but I’ll take the new one over the old one.” The students seemed to prefer the the old schedule they they were used to, while the staff seemed more open towards the change in the schedule.

With the schedule change, we were curious if teachers and students thought there was more homework assigned nightly. We asked Alyssa Cordes, Kellen Waters, Jessica Herrington, and Mr. Ames, “Do you think the new schedule has affected the average amount of homework each night?” Kellen thought that the amount of homework each night “depends on how long you procrastinate, because you can always wait a day to do your homework. I think it’s a similar amount to what we had last year though.” Alyssa had a very similar view to Kellen, stating that she thinks “the amount of homework is pretty equal overall.” Mr. Ames feels like it has, “definitely increased the amount of homework that I do each night.” Jessica feels that, “It has affected how much homework I get because the teachers are still trying to adjust too, and some nights I end up with a bunch of homework while other nights I have none.” For the most part, students feel like the amount of homework has stayed the same, while teachers feel like they have a little bit more homework due to having more classes each day.

The last question we asked staff and students about was the newly implemented “snack time” that students are allowed to have in third period. We asked Mr. Carovillano, Ariel Kenny, and Steven Moore, “Do you think that having the opportunity to have a snack during third period helps students to focus, or do you think that it eats up class time?” Mr. Carovillano thinks that, “snack time is great.  It’s a fun break and you can’t focus on learning when you are hungry.”  Similarly to Mr. Carovillano, Ariel thinks that “it’s fine that we have snack time because I get distracted if I’m really hungry; as long as students aren’t too focused on their food, then it’s fine.” Steven thinks that “snack time allows [students] to focus more because they’re hungry because some students don’t have lunch until later in the day.” Overall, having a snack time seems to improve students focus during third period.

Although transitioning to a new schedule can be difficult to get used to, it students seem to be warming up to the new schedule. After the first few weeks of trying to memorize what classes are on which days and what homework is due when, students seem to be getting used to the drastically different schedule. Teachers and administrators also seem to be settling into the new schedule. With a few minor tweaks, the schedule will be perfect for future high school students.

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