Ann, my district went from block to traditional a few years back. I don't
find the shorter time a hindrance, but it did take me awhile to adjust to
what I perceived as a shorter time frame. Mostly it amounts to time
management on my part. I do warm-up activities daily, but they are often
quick bell-work type activities (often things to write or draw in their
sketchbooks). They know they don't start on their projects until I have
discussed the day's activities with them, so they get out their sketchbook,
do whatever I have for them to do in their book, then sit quietly until I
release them to get to work. This is more of a focus activity to calm them
down so they aren't squirrely all hour. I do grade each project, but I will
often walk around and grade when they are nearing completion, rather than
have them hand everything in. Sketchbook work is a quick 10-5-0 points, with
10 points for true effort, 0 for none. I also give daily grades, but this is
a spreadsheet where I document who is absent (they can make up their daily
points by drawing in their sketchbook), and after that I only document those
not receiving full daily credit (much easier to document the few who aren't
rather than the majority that are working hard).
As for pull-outs for anything else - I do NOT allow students to be pulled
out of my class for other classes. Your district policy may be different,
but if they are going to pull them from my class they also need to be
pulling them from math, science & languages arts.
Since middle school students are completely different to teach than
intermediate or high school (I have all 3 groups) I do give them some slack.
Students are given adequate time to complete all projects in class, unless
they are absent a lot. If they miss too much school they can come in before
or after school to work.
My questions for those teaching a standard schedule:
1. Do you use a warm up everyday? And how long is your warm up?
2. How do you grade? (percentages for projects versus daily work)-- I have
too much to grade usually and would really like to lighten that load so that
I use more of my time productively planning lessons.
3. How do you handle absenteeism including pull-outs for tutoring?