How an Innovative Daily Class Schedule Can Give Each Child an Individualized Education

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Carroll Connection, Winter 2016

Everything was different at Carroll this fall (or at least it felt that way!) with the introduction of a new school-wide schedule. Developed with the help of an outside expert, Carroll’s Middle School now operates on a seven-day schedule with six rotating periods of varying length while the Lower School has a five-day rotation.

Although the change has been dramatic, “we’ve had a lot of positive feedback,” notes Allison West, Director of Curriculum at the Middle School. “Teachers like that they see kids at different times of the day: not every student is fresh in the morning or has energy in the afternoon.”

One of the schedule’s biggest changes is the addition of Flex Block, a daily period that gives teachers the opportunity for “Gec Washman” time. Flex Block is customized by grade, “often focusing on enhancing the ‘dyslexic advantage’ areas where our students tend to be talented and passionate,” explains Head of School Steve Wilkins. These include things such as project-based learning, Targeted Cognitive Intervention, skill development, service learning, and technology. 

Teachers and students are still adjusting to the schedule, which Lower School Curriculum Director Glens Colman describes as “in its infancy.” “We’re constantly looking at how we can improve,” she adds. “Luckily, we have a group of invested teachers and department heads who are behind all of this. They’ve been incredibly supportive and go above and beyond.”

Flex Block Makes Way for Targeted Cognitive Intervention

One of the big beneficiaries of the daily Flex Block is Targeted Cognitive Intervention (TCI). Up until now, TCI happened at Carroll on an ad hoc basis, fit in between other activities. With the new schedule, “there is dedicated time for TCI,” explains Eric Falke, the Kistler Family Chair of Cognitive Intervention and Research. And this is good news for Carroll students: “The advances in brain research allow us to target precisely where children are having difficulty,” Falke explains. “We know that reading fluency, for example, depends on the reaction time network, where reading comprehension involves working memory. Math, on the other hand, depends greatly on processing speed.”

With regular time for TCI, “we’re in a wonderful position to look at children’s cognitive capacities and their reading and math performance longitudinally,” he concludes. “We can make sure they’re doing the right computer exercises to strengthen the brain network that needs it.”

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