New block schedule a hit for most students


Ryan Dwyer, Jay Varakala, Katelyn Mehlenbeck, and Evan Wang

The new block scheduling at Carson Middle School for this year is a hit among students, teachers, and even the principal.

“I like it because it allows teachers to differentiate their lessons to cover the content in a timely manner,” an anonymous teacher said. “[Block scheduling] gives students the opportunity to process the content. I’ve only taught a full schedule the first year here in Carson so I actually really do like block scheduling.”

Block scheduling is only in its second year at Carson, but it still has undergone many changes since it was implemented last year. This year is the first year at Carson where there is a straight block scheduling, meaning that there aren’t any regular anchor days in the schedule.

Block scheduling is a high school concept of alternating classes, depending on the day of the week. Carson’s version of block scheduling include one class every day (3rd period) and having a study hall to do your work in (Panther Time). Implementing block scheduling in middle school leaves more class time and gives students a taste of high school.

Nineteen out of the 23 Fairfax County middle schools use block scheduling. However, when it comes to a straight block schedule (a schedule that compromises having all classes every day for longer classes, but still has the straight/anchor days occasionally), Carson is in the minority being a part of eight of the Nineteen schools that use the straight block format.

What the Teachers Think

“It changed a few things,” said Mr. Josh Bickford, the drama teacher, on block scheduling. “I had to make sure that when we’re doing in-school performances for an invited audience, I was really concerned about not having it over a certain length so everything fits in 43 minutes. I was concerned about that.”

“I think that that it provides a different way to break time down during the day,” said Principal Stokes, “so that students and teachers can do certain things that require more continuous time.” Principal Stokes prefers having more time with each class, which is exactly what block scheduling provides. “I think having a little bit more time for each period allows for kids to engage in their learning in more detail.”

What the Students Think

When the students were asked their thoughts on block scheduling, the overwhelming majority of students preferred this new format. Out of 86 responses, 76 said that they liked the block scheduling and 10 didn’t.

“I really like block scheduling because it helps me stay organized and doesn’t stress me because I will have classes every day,” said Sudeep, 7th grader. “Including Homework. Block Scheduling helps me have some time to do some homework and stay organized.”  

Like Sudeep, Nathan a seventh grader in the Legacy team also likes block scheduling. “I like block scheduling because it lets you have days to be away from the class which will make it that almost never that your homework will be due next day,”  Nathan went on to say, “I think last year’s scheduling was better. I heard that last year, all Mondays were anchor days which made it so that every Tuesday would be an A day and every Wednesday would be a B day. Unlike now, which we have it so that it switches every week due to 5 school days, an odd number.”

“Block scheduling, unlike anchor day, allows for more content to be covered in class.  said Shreyas, 8th grader. “Also, it allows for less scurrying between classes, whereas in anchor days, many students have barely any time to get to each class. Block scheduling also allows for more time to complete homework.”

However, some students were a little more critical of the new scheduling.

“I don’t like block scheduling because the periods are way too long. said an anonymous 8th grader. “Students (at least students I know) cannot focus for more than an hour (especially a Monday and in the mornings). Academic results would be improved if there was at least one anchor day on the schedule. I like block days because it gives more time to do homework. More time is more effort.”

In Closing

This new block schedule gives students the opportunity to get an early taste of high school and gives students more time in class for projects, learning, and fun. However, it also assigns more homework and can bore students out with the long amount of instruction.

But, if students think an hour and thirty minutes are long for the class time, just wait for SOL testing block scheduling to begin.