Block Scheduling Resources
The inclusion of resources on this NAfME Web page does not mean NAfME endorses any particular organization or supports any particular point of view expressed in any of these documents/articles/Web sites.
This is a collection of online articles, commentary, article listings, FAQs, and research citations concerning scheduling of music. This information is current as of July 2006. NAfME would welcome samples of music class schedules at various grade levels, to add as additional reference material for music teachers and administrators.
Please write firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, or if you have a sample schedule to submit.
NOTE: Copies of cited NAfME articles can usually be found in library periodical database systems. Check with your local or university library. Or, contact email@example.com to get printed copies of NAfME articles (there may be a nominal donation fee to cover mailing and copying costs). For copies of articles from non-NAfME sources, you will have to contact that source directly.
- John Benham series from Supportmusic.com
- Block scheduling
- Alternate scheduling
- Year Round
4 x 4 Block Schedule: Four classes, approximately ninety minutes in length, every day for the first semester. Four completely different classes, again ninety minutes in length, every day for the second semester. Each class equals one credit.
A/B Block Schedule: (also known as the alternate plan) Four classes, approximately ninety minutes in length, meeting every other day (“A” days) for an entire school year. Four completely different classes, again ninety minutes in length, meeting on alternate days (“B” days) for an entire year. Each class equals one credit.
Combination Block Schedule: A combination of 4 x 4 and A/B block schedules.
Flexible Schedule: A combination of 4 x 4 and A/B block schedules, but class length varies from day to day. One example: On three out of every five days throughout the school year, each class could be 90 minutes in length. On the other two days, designated as Advisement/Resource Days, each class is 75 minutes in length. An Advisement/Resource Hour is 60 minutes in length.
All of the above from: The Change Process and Alternative Scheduling, accessed 6/4/06
Intensive Block: In this format, students attend two core classes at a time. These core classes can be coupled with up to three other year-long elective classes. Students complete the core classes in 60 days and then move on to another two. School years are organized into trimesters (Jones, 1995; Canady & Rettig, 1995). Read more at www.nwrel.org
Modular: the modular schedule system is similar to the traditional block schedule, but differs in that it allows for each day of the week to have classes (sometimes referred to as “mods”) scheduled in a different order.
Modified block: “build your own” block schedule; e.g. schools may have students attend school based on a 4 x 4 block on Monday through Thursday, and a regular 8 period schedule on Friday. Or, they may have two blocked classes in a day, combined with three regular periods (Rettig and Canady, 1996). Read more at www.nwrel.org
Parallel block: The parallel block is used primarily in elementary schools, whereas the modified block, alternating A/B, the 4 x 4 block, and the intensive block are used primarily in secondary schools. Parallel block takes a class of students and divides them into two groups. One group of children stay with their classroom teachers for instruction in a subject such as math or language arts, while the other group attends physical education or music, or visits the computer lab; after a prescribed length of time the two groups swap. This schedule provides all students with a more individual learning experience (Canady, 1990). Read more at www.nwrel.org
Pullout: elective classes that take some students, but not all students, out of the regular classroom to participate in group practices or individual lessons. NAfME’s Position Statement
Trimester: The instructional year is divided into three cycles.
Year-round: Schools that follow a year-around schedule do not literally meet for the entire year. The instructional year is divided into four cycles, which generally run from late July-September, October-December, January-March, and April-early June. Each nine-week instructional cycle is followed by an approximate two-week break, and other seasonal breaks (i.e., Winter, Spring) are included.
|Pre-K and Kindergarten||At least 12 percent of the contact time with children in every pre-kindergarten and kindergarten is devoted to experiences with music|
|Elementary (Grades 1-5 or 1-6)||Instruction by music specialists is provided in periods of not less than twenty minutes nor more than thirty minutes in grades 1 and 2 and in periods of not less than twenty-five minutes nor more than forty- five minutes in grades 3 through 6. ?Instruction is provided in string, wind, and percussion instruments. Instrumental classes meet at least two times per week for a total of at least ninety minutes, including individual instruction and work in small groups and large ensembles.|
|Middle School and Jr. High||Every music course meets at least every other day in periods of at least forty-five minutes. Choral and instrumental ensembles and classes are offered during the school day and are scheduled so that all members of each ensemble meet as a unit throughout the year or have equivalent time under an alternative scheduling arrangement. In schools not utilizing block scheduling, the school day includes no fewer than eight instructional periods. Every effort is made to avoid scheduling single-section courses in music against single-section courses in required subjects.|
|High School||Every music course meets at least every other day in periods of at least forty-five minutes. ?In schools not utilizing block scheduling, the school day includes no fewer than eight instructional periods. Every effort is made to avoid scheduling single-section courses in music against single-section courses in required subjects.|
(See also section on modular scheduling, and survey comments below)
Research on Elementary Scheduling and the Music Program
(This is an abbreviated review of the study. Consult the reference for full details.)
Boone, Nancy Rives. Spaced Versus Massed Scheduling of Music Instruction of First And Second Grade Children. Dissertation Abstracts International. Volume: 49-09, Section: A, page: 2573.
The purpose of this research was to determine the effects of spaced scheduling versus massed scheduling on various aspects of first and second grade students. One first grade and one second grade class were assigned the spaced instructional format (15-minute, four class sessions per week) and the other first and second grade classes were assigned massed instructional format (30 minute classes, two sessions per week).
An aptitude test (PMMA) was administered to all students. Instruction for the 12-weeks was based on existing instructional objectives that were central to the school’s music curriculum.
Results of the singing test found no significant differences between the two instructional formats.
The Primary Measures of Music Audiation scores for both first and second grade spaced format classes were higher than the first and second grade massed format classes but there were no significant differences between instructional format scores on any of the three SBCT test scores.
The attitude toward music class scores was generally so high so that there was not an adequate spread to conduct a meaningful correlation.
(See also section on Year Round schedules and Miscellaneous Block)
Blocks, Wheels, and Teams: Building a Middle School Schedule
Hinckley, June, Music Educators Journal, 78/6 (February 1992): 26.
MIDDLEWEB: Fritsche Middle School, Milwaukee WI – Discusses the different changes block scheduling brought to this school, and how the school made the scheduling work.
MIDDLEWEB: Read a prior Internet email discussion where teachers talked about block scheduling in the middle school. There is also a Block Scheduling Listserv address here.
(See also BLOCK section, and “research on block” and “Alternative” scheduling)
Angola High School, Steuben County, Indiana: The 4X4 Block High School and the Angola High School Band – tells how Angola High School made the 4X4 block schedule work for them
Changes in the Band Programs of Missouri Public High Schools Using the Eight-Block System of Scheduling (Abstract)
Wade, Dudley B., Missouri Journal of Research in Music Education, 31 (1994): 46.
The Times Are Changing. Draper, Anita Teaching Music; v7 n4 p30-37 Feb 2000
Addresses the scheduling debate, focusing on the block scheduling approach in secondary schools. Discusses alternative scheduling that incorporates both the traditional short classes and the block schedules, such as Flex 8 and hybrid schedules. Urges music teachers to contribute to the scheduling debate. Includes a list of resources. (CMK)
Accession Number: EJ622219
Click on the links below for information on a variety of both traditional and block scheduling options presented via an 10 part series featuring a fictional school district-SCSD (Students Central School District). All by Dr. John Benham, at www.supportmusic.com.
- Case Study: “Block Schedule – The Perils”
- Educational Reform Movements: An Overview & Some Advice
- Educational Reform: Scheduling
- Educational Reform Movements: Scheduling & The Traditional Six-Period Day
- Educational Reform Movements: Scheduling Myths & the Grades 9-10 “Bottleneck”
- Educational Reform Movements: Two Options for 7-Period Scheduling
- Educational Reform Movements: Rotating Schedules
- Educational Reform Movements: Block Scheduling and the Music Student
- Educational Reform Movements: Two Options for Four-Period Block Scheduling
- Educational Reform Movements: Three Perspectives on Block Scheduling
- Educational Reform Movements: Decision Time!
The Eleven-Period Day Fallis, Todd Teaching Music; v10 n4 p48-51 Feb 2003
Describes how an eleven-period day would work in high schools. Discusses the benefits of having an eleven-period day, such as helping with overcrowding and allowing students flexibility. Addresses where music class would fit into this schedule and includes a list of resources on scheduling. Accession Number: EJ675539
Elementary school schedule: Making the most of music through modular time-tabling, An Freed-Garrod, Joi, Canadian Music Educator, 41/2 (Winter 2000): 59-60.
Year-Round Music: A Pattern for Success. Trimis, Edward Music Educators Journal; v83 n4 p17-21 Jan 1997
Extols the virtues of a year-round school schedule and identifies several schools where this practice has contributed to the success of the music program. Briefly discusses such key factors as staffing, budget, curriculum, logical sequence of instruction, and performance scheduling. Includes an example of a year-round schedule. (MJP) EJ551266
Can Year-Round Scheduling Work for Your Program? Trimis, Edward Music Educators Journal; v77 n1 p50-52 Sep 1990
Argues that, although few teachers initially understand or trust year-round scheduling, it is a concept that can work well. Provides some options for building and maintaining music programs in school
systems that operate on year-round schedules. (DB)EJ415710
Year-Round Multitrack Scheduling: Dissonant with Music Education? Kassner, Kirk General Music Today; v11 n2 p9-13 Win 1998
Discusses the reasons why schools choose year-round multi-track (YRMT) scheduling. Asserts that YRMT scheduling seriously affects music teachers since they spend less time with the students and must plan in smaller increments. Provides the results from a survey where music teachers in Florida (Orange County) commented on their experiences with YRMT scheduling. (CMK) EJ600315
Teaching Orchestra on a Year-Round Schedule. Orchestra. Day, Susan H Teaching Music; v4 n1 p33-35 Aug 1996
Recalls the problems encountered and the solutions offered when a school district put 1100 middle school students on a year-round schedule. Discovered an enormous benefit in class size reduction
accompanied by daunting challenges involving scheduling and logistics. Includes a chart illustrating the rotational schedule of the orchestra. (MJP) EJ538426
The Year-Round School: Implications for the Music Program. Campbell, Alex B NASSP Bulletin; 59; 393; 31-6; Oct 1975
The extended school year can play havoc with traditional music programs, the writer says, because the continuity that is essential is disrupted. He describes how to cope with this problem. (Editor) EJ127199
After We Tried a Block Schedule
Reely, Trey, Instrumentalist, 53/4 (November 1998): 86-89.
Oppression of Schedules, The
Gowan, Andrew, Instrumentalist, 47/9 (April 1993): 58.
Battling the Scheduling Crunch
Caldwell, Bruce, Instrumentalist, 42/2 (September 1987): 27.
Closer Look at Block Scheduling, A
Hoffman, Elizabeth, Music Educators Journal/Teaching Music, 2/5 (April 1995): 42.
Perils of Block Scheduling: This Latest Folly is Worse than the New Math, The
Benham, John and Benham, Stephen, Instrumentalist, 51/1 (August 1996): 30.
Research on Block Schedules
Miles, Richard B. and Blocher, Larry R., Instrumentalist, 53/4 (November 1998): 84-86.
When Block Schedules Begin Instrumental Music Declines
Rohner, James T., Instrumentalist, 56/9 (April 2002): 19-24.
The Block Schedule Gimmick: Still Growing, Still Unproven
Lenzini, Catherine Sell, Instrumentalist, 53/10 (May 1999): 12-20.
Is It Curtains for Traditional Ensembles? Van Zandt, Kathryn Teaching Music; v8 n5 p24-29 Apr 2001
Focuses on traditional music ensembles (orchestra, bands, and choir) discussing such issues as the affects of block scheduling and how to deal with scheduling issues, the effects of funding on large ensemble programs, nontraditional ensembles in …
Accession Number: EJ640050
Research on Block Scheduling
Goodrich, Kathlene J. An investigation of block scheduling in high school string ensembles: Student performance, attentiveness, and attrition. Dissertation Abstracts International. Volume: 62-06, Section: A, page: 2063.
(This is an abbreviated review of the study. Consult the reference for full details.)
Alternative school scheduling patterns were examined to determine whether they have an impact on string music education and student performance levels in two A/B block, two 4 x 4 block, and two traditional-scheduled high schools.
Findings indicated that regional festival ratings were highest in schools maintaining a traditional schedule and lowest in schools using a 4 x 4 block schedule. Performance levels over time remained fairly consistent at each school. Difficulty grade level of repertoire fluctuated slightly for some of the block schools. When student performance achievement was measured, a statistical significance was found between type of schedule pattern. Performance achievement also revealed a significant difference between schools and between schedule patterns. No difference existed for student attentiveness between schools or schedule patterns. The 4 x 4 block schools had the greatest number of students unable to maintain consistent membership in the string program. Enrollment figures for the past eight years indicated: traditional schools string programs have had consistent growth, 4 x 4 block schools remained fairly consistent, and A/B block schools had a large increase in enrollment for the first two years after switching to block and thereafter maintained steady growth
Carpenter, David Karl. Block scheduling implementation in secondary school music programs in Louisiana. Dissertation Abstracts International. Volume: 62-05, Section: A, page: 1645.
(This is an abbreviated review of the study. Consult the reference for full details.)
The general purpose of this study was to determine the perceptions of music educators in Louisiana regarding the block schedule and its effect on music education.
Questionnaires were mailed to 77 high schools using the block schedule in Louisiana. An equal number of mail-outs (for a total of 154) were sent to schools subscribing to the traditional schedule to provide comparative characteristics. Using a variety of Likert-type scales, the respondents rated various characteristics of music program enrollment, scheduling problems, and individual student musical proficiency.
The analysis of data reported higher enrollment means for performing arts classes in schools with the Traditional schedule. This is attributed to the smaller amount of schedule conflicts. The enrollment means of choirs and bands in schools subscribing to the Full Block were also reported higher than the same type of programs in the Modified Block schools. Subjects also reported problems with student drop-outs as a result of schedule conflicts; however, the proficiency level of the student musicians increased under the Full Block schedule.
Miscellaneous Block Scheduling Articles and Resources
- Block Scheduling In North Carolina: Implementation, Teaching, and Impact Issues
1997 Survey Results
- Block Scheduling Effects on a State Mandated Test of Basic Skills William R. Veal, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; James Schreiber, Indiana University
Abstract; Volume 7 Number 29 September 19, 1999
- Block Scheduling: A Solution or a Problem? from Educationworld.com
- MODELING AND BLOCK SCHEDULING: a good match; Wayne J. Finkbeiner; Central Bucks West High School; Doylestown, Pennsylvania April 1998;
- The Effects of Block Scheduling on Teacher Perceptions and Student Performance; ASCD Research Brief, May 11, 2004 Volume 2 Number 10
- Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement, University of Minnesota, Block Scheduling Primer and list of FAQ, including scheduling examples, resources and research, definitions, discussion
- SCHOOLS with INFO about Block Scheduling
- The Effects of Full and Alternative Day Block Scheduling on Language Arts and Science Achievement in a Junior High School, Education Policy Analysis Archives
- Block Schedule: Pros and Cons
This article lists the positives and negatives of the Block or Modular Schedule.
- Case against Block Scheduling
Numerous arguments against the implementation of the Block Schedule in the school.
- NW Regional Education Lab: Scheduling Alternatives: Options for Student Success; definitions, citations, implementation, benefits, concerns;
- Block Scheduling
Karen Irmsher writes this ERIC Digest that explores the question What’s wrong with the traditional six- or seven-period day?
- Block Scheduling Links and Information
A high school Web site offers this long list of links to Web pages that explore the issue of block scheduling.
- EDUCATION WEEK Article addressing the conflicting research claims of block scheduling. Changing Times, Debra Viadero; 10/3/01 Vol. 21, Issue 5, Pages 38-40
- FL (Foreign Language Teaching) TEACH FAQs — Discussions about topics of import to teachers; click on Block Scheduling by Lee Risley – general info/opinion/feedback about block scheduling across the curriculum
NAfME May 2006 Online Survey:
Examples offered by NAfME members
A Scheduling-Conflict Resolution Model. Latten, James E Music Educators Journal; v84 n6 p22-25,38 May 1998
Discusses guidelines for music educators when scheduling conflicts occur involving curricular music performances, both during and after school, by musical groups that practice during school hours. Provides justification for regular attendance and addresses why directors should be flexible in certain cases. Offers the Scheduling-Conflict Resolution model as a means for resolving scheduling conflicts. Accession Number: EJ602558