Although spring is still just a hopeful thought, high school students at BFA are already planning for the next school year. The 2017-18 BFA Program of Studies was released this week and represents some of the changes that are happening at BFA to improve teaching and learning. The Program of Studies includes 23 new courses including Interdisciplinary Courses designed for our sophomore students.
The Interdisciplinary Courses were developed based on feedback from students from the Class of 2020 about their hopes after a year in our new Freshman Core. Other new courses were developed by the various academic departments to provide more opportunities for students to pursue an area of interest.
Another aspect that will be different for students next year is the introduction of a flexible schedule for classes. Currently, students are enrolled in four 75-minute classes each day. The new flexible schedule will have classes that are 45, 60, 75 and 90 minutes long. The classes will run concurrently throughout the day with different start and end times.
Students might start the day with a 45-minute class, followed by a 90-minute class and end the day with a 75-minute class and 60-minute class. The goal is to provide flexibility for learners and match the courses with an appropriate amount of time for the subject and the learners. Interdisciplinary courses will run for 90 minutes, while introductory world language, art and band classes might last only 45 minutes. Some courses will retain their 75-minute length if that time frame works best and others will become 60 minutes long.
The new flexible schedule will allow our students who attend the Essex Tech Center, CTE, to enroll in a 45-minute class at BFA before they board the bus to Essex. BFA students currently start their day at Essex with a math, English or Social Studies course before they begin their program. Our new schedule provides that content instruction at BFA, keeping our tech center students connected to their teachers and peers, and still gets them to the tech center in time for their program.
The last change in next year’s schedule involves Support Block. Support Block is a 30-minute block that students attend every day to allow time for homework, make-up work, clubs, or quiet social interactions. Next year, Support Block will occur at the end of the day. This change was proposed by students and supported by students for a variety of reasons.
“All students, having been through all of their classes before Support Block, what they want help with and what they can handle on their own. – Rachel P., student in her proposal to move Support Block
Students who play sports sometimes have to be dismissed early to travel for away events. Support Block at the end of the day will reduce the amount of academic class time our student-athletes miss on early dismissal days. Lastly, with support Block at the end of the day, our CTE students will be able to check in when they return from Essex and maintain their connection to their Support Block teacher and peers.
Flexible scheduling is a step toward the concept of “Mass Customized Learning” which shifts instruction from a time-based to a learning-based approach.
It’s an exciting time for students and teachers at BFA as we begin to reimagine our school day and year to improve teaching and learning and best meet the needs of our students.
Target 3 Flexible Learning Environments – FWSU maximizes flexible learning environments by redefining the school day, promoting learning experiences that extend beyond the classroom, and fostering creativity, innovation, and personalized learning opportunities for all.
Indicators of Success for this Goal – The definition of school day is flexible and responsive to the needs of students.
Action Step – Develop opportunities for students to demonstrate transferable skills in authentic settings