Willets Road School students and parents will see a new daily schedule format this fall, including new blocks devoted to preparation and development.
Danielle Gately, assistant superintendent for instruction and personnel in East Williston School District, presented to the Board of Education on March 26 a new schedule for the fifth, sixth and seventh graders in the district.
Superintendent Elaine Kanas said the schedule change was to help provide equal access to all courses and programs and address scheduling conflicts created by additional support and special education services needed for some students.
The schedule also allows students to accelerate their world language studies, Kanas said, and give more opportunities to students who need advanced enrichment.
Gately said the new middle school schedule, set to begin this fall, was devised by the Learning Priorities Scheduling Committee, which included Principal Stephen Kimmel, teachers and Educational Advisory Committee members from the district.
The committee formed a list or priorities for the new schedule to address, Gately said, including providing all students with time for art, music and world languages.
Under the new schedule, fifth and sixth graders will have a STEM class where one instructor teaches math and science as well as a humanities class where one teacher covers English and social studies to provide a more interdisciplinary approach.
The schedule also adds a developmental block, or d-block, twice a day for all students. In fifth and sixth grade, Gately said, one block will be dedicated to the student’s humanities teacher and the other block will be dedicated to the student’s STEM teacher.
In seventh grade, the d-blocks will rotate through the student’s four core teachers, giving each student an opportunity with every teacher within two days.
“During that d-block, that would also be the time if you’re a student in need of academic intervention services, special education, or corrective reading, that would be the time you would leave your classroom and receive those services instead of missing any of the other access to art or music or physical education or world language like you might have in the past,” Gately said.
Fifth graders will also alternate 40-minute periods of music and physical education every other day as well as an hour-long technology class one semester rotating with an art class the next semester. The schedule also allows for a new half-hour health class every other day and a half-hour world language class.
In sixth grade, students are required to take a world language every other day, but students can choose to accelerate their learning with a daily course. Students who chose to study a language every other day will have the opportunity to add an elective to their schedule.
“Choosing to accelerate in world language would put you on track to have more options for world language at Wheatley, whether you chose to continue your language program and take additional AP classes and college classes or take a second world language at Wheatley,” Gately said.
Seventh-grade students will see an increase in their math class time, increasing 20 minutes from 40 to 60 minutes per day.
Gately said the seventh-grade social studies and science classes will also be extended to 70-minute blocks every other day, giving students more time to focus on each subject at once.
While lunch for fifth and sixth grade will stay at 40 minutes, seventh graders will see a shorter lunch time at only 30 minutes, but Gately said the district was exploring options to lengthen the lunch period again.
“We know having a 40-minute lunch is something that’s important for fifth and sixth grade, and we do believe that as a seventh grader, half an hour is a viable option for lunch,” Gately said. “We also believe if we could find the extra 10 minutes and work it in, it’s something we would like to give back.”