Schedules and routines

We have two weeks left of intensive French before we switch over to the English half of the year. I’m excited for the change and I think most of my students are too, though I was surprized and a little pleased when a few of my students today said that they wanted to stay in French.

In anticipation of the change-over, I started looking at my schedule for teaching the Compacted Curriculum. I had to decide when I was going to teach what and how to squeeze all those subjects into what seemed like too few minutes. There were two possibilities that I came up with and after talking it over with Mrs. W, I’m happy with what I’ve chosen to do, even though it sounds a little odd at first.

In order to explain my new schedule, I have to tell you that I love routine. I like starting the day the same way every day and I like knowing what is coming next and I know that my students do too. I try to be aware of which students are able to handle changes easily and which have a hard time with even the smallest change in our routine. When I move my seating plan around, I try to keep some students in similar spot while others get moved around the room.

I have a dream schedule in a lot of ways this year. Right now I teach Intensive French to my class all morning, uninterrupted by anything other than recess. After lunch each day (other than Wednesday because the students don’t have school Wednesday afternoons) my class has Math with another teacher while I go to teach pre-intensive French to one of the two grade 4 classes until 2pm. Other than Tuesdays, they then go to gym and/or music and I have my hour of prep time. Tuesdays we go to the library and then have art for the last half hour.

It’s a little hard because all of my preps are at the end of the day and I have no prep on Tuesday or Wednesday. But all of my preps are an hour and my time with my students is uninterrupted by taking them out in the middle of a block somewhere. And it’s very routine. We do the same thing or almost the same thing every day. I wanted to continue to be able to do that after the change over.

The grade 3 and 4 classes have their literacy block after recess. We may do some flexible grouping across our grades so I wanted to have my literacy at the same time, so it was easy enough to put literacy every day from recess until lunch. I was left with the time from first bell until recess and I somehow had to fit in 150 minutes of Science, Social Studies and French and 75 minutes of Health/PDCP. My first draft had blocks of 45 minutes or an hour of each subject in frustratingly random spots. I tried to make it somewhat uniform but it just wouldn’t work. It annoyed me to have French two days in a row with different subjects after each time.

In the end, what I’ve decided to do is to schedule 30 minutes of Social Studies each morning followed by 75 minutes of either Science, French or Health. I’m a little concerned about the short amount of time for Social Studies. I’m worried that it’s such a short time that we’ll just get into something and then we’ll be moving on, but at the same time, my plan, like the last time I taught this, is to give out a project assignment on Monday and have them present on Friday so they’ll be able to come in first thing every morning and work on their projects. I’m happy with this schedule and I think it will work well for almost everyone, the exception being those students who are chronically late and will invariably miss a lot of Social Studies time, however, I’m hoping that the projects will get them interested enough that it will encourage them to be to school on time more often.

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