Block Scheduling

Bell Schedule FAQ for Williamsburg Middle School


Q: Why is WMS looking to change from the traditional 7 period day to a new bell schedule?

A: We believe there are great benefits for students, teachers and parents.

A: We believe the traditional schedule of the past 100 years does not necessarily fit with modern methods limiting students learning and hindering school climate.

A: The block schedule is a more effective use of time, allowing for best instructional practice and better response to student’s needs.


Q: What are the benefits for students?

A: Additional instructional time is created to meet curricular demands.

A: Preparing for fewer courses each day will help manage “curriculum overload”; creating staggered due-dates and reducing STRESS .

A: The fast pace of our school day is significantly slowed down leading to improved climate.

A: Students will gain a deeper understanding of content.

A: Stronger student:teacher relationships are formed.

A: Smoother transition from Middle school to high school.


Q: How will block scheduling benefit instruction?

A: Extended, uninterrupted class periods allow teachers to implement best practice; accounting for various learning styles and delving deeper into content.

A: Active learning environments are fostered allowing for more hands on, student centered, technology infused activities within lessons.

A: Project Based Learning becomes possible in the extended time providing rich experiential learning for students.


Q: What are the benefits for parents?

A: The alternating day schedule allows for better communication between class meetings.

A: Students can get assistance from their teacher before the next class meets.

A: “Family time” can increase with reduction of daily course load and increased time for academic support within school day.

A: Your children will like school better!!! 


Q: How might the WMS Block be structured?

A: Under consideration is an alternating day or A/B block schedule with Monday as an anchor day. Students will attend seven classes on Mondays and five classes on Tuesday through Friday including a Wolf Time period. See a sample schedule below.


Q: Will my child be scheduled for all core academic classes to meet on the same day?

A: No. Schedules will be balanced so that each day includes both core academic and elective periods. This balance will create staggered due dates for assignments and assessments.


Q: Will the Band and Orchestra Programs still be able to have ability grouped classes?

A: Yes


Q: Is there research that supports the effectiveness block scheduling?

A: Yes. Research and cumulative empirical evidence in “landmark” position papers and research literature including; This We Believe (Assoc. for Middle Level Education), Turning Points, Transforming Middle Schools (Center for Collaborative Education), and Yardsticks: Children in the Classroom Ages 4-14 (Wood, C.) support that block scheduling contributes to improved climate, increased academic achievement and better overall development for middle level students.  Additional resources are available below.


Q: Can middle school students stay focused for extended periods?

A: Absolutely. Traditional lessons are transformed into workshops and broken up into creative, engaging, student centered activities.


Q: How are we preparing teachers to be successful teaching in the longer block?

A: To use block classes successfully, we must teach differently than we do in a traditional 45 minute class. Professional development for appropriate lesson design, instructional strategies, curriculum revision and classroom management are planned and will continue through implementation.


Q: What if my child misses a day of school? Will they fall further behind since class meets in a block every other day?

A: No. First, they will only miss some classes, not all classes. As for the classes they do miss due to absence, we believe the teacher accessibility for extra help during Wolf Time will make it easier to get caught up than students currently experience.


Q: Where can I learn more?

A:  Resource 1       Resource 2          Resource 3  


Block Schedule Examples