2022-2023 Block Schedule

  • New Trier will use a rotating Blue/Green/Anchor block schedule for the 2022-2023 school year. This page includes information about the block schedule and answers some frequently asked questions.

    Bell Schedule

    Watch this video walkthrough of how to read your schedule for the coming school year.


    District Exploration of Block Schedule 

    In 2019, the Board of Education approved the District's strategic plan, New Trier 2030, which includes broad goals for New Trier over the next decade and annual strategies for achieving those goals. One area of exploration in the strategic plan was the District's daily schedule, and a schoolwide committee began setting goals and looking into options around that schedule.

    For many years, students had identified the District's 9-period daily schedule as a source of stress because of its hectic pace and the amount of nightly homework it generated, particularly when topics could not be adequately covered in a 40-minute period. Some faculty members also noted the difficulty of delivering in-depth content and limited the use of different instructional practices to address various learning styles in one class period, given that several minutes of each short period were spent transitioning into class and having students prepare to go to their next class. The committee's goals included allowing for more depth of discussion and longer hands-on activities in classes, more variety of instructional strategies within a single block of time, maintaining a similar amount of instructional time, maintaining student course selection choices, reducing student stress over the schedule, and easing the nightly homework load.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are the benefits of a block schedule vs. the 9-period daily schedule?
    New Trier's adoption of the block schedule is guided by two fundamental principles: 1) providing opportunities for deeper learning, and 2) reducing student stress related to the daily schedule. Both of these outcomes enhance the learning experience for students, while also maintaining student access to New Trier's robust elective opportunities.

    Students should expect to see and feel many benefits of the block schedule, including:

    • Preparing for fewer classes each evening compared to preparing for all classes, every evening in a 9-period schedule. This is a benefit to the vast majority of students who participate in after school activities.
    • Making fewer transitions between classes and teachers in a block schedule compared to 9-period day
    • Flexibility and variability in the daily and weekly routine - not every day is the same - variation makes it interesting and keeps things fresh
    • Longer blocks of time to meet with teachers, make up tests/assessments, get help from the Academic Assistance Center
    • Variety of instructional strategies used in one block of time promotes engagement and deeper learning, and reflection and collaboration with the teacher and peers
    • More in-class time for teachers and students to work individually or in small groups

    How will students stay engaged during 85-minute classes?
    Some students and parents are concerned that students cannot focus on a single subject for 85 minutes or that such long classes will be ineffective or boring. Effective teaching in block schedule is guided by "chunking" content into three to five different learning activities stitched together to make a coherent and engaging daily lesson, where students transition to a different learning activity every 15-20 minutes. This method allows for a variety of instructional strategies to reach different types of learners and facilitates the learning process that cycles through explanation or inputs from the teacher, followed by an application or collaboration activity where students engage with the content and each other to make new connections, and concluding with a synthesis or reflective activity to check for understanding.

    Longer chunks of time permit a teacher to employ a variety of instructional strategies that promote greater engagement with content, classmates, and the teacher. Our teachers will employ best practices in teaching and learning in block schedule, a sample of which includes:

    • Switching learning activities every 15-20 minutes, using a variety of class configurations: whole group, small group, pairs, or individual teacher-student instruction, etc.
    • Designing activities that promote kinesthetic activity or brain breaks
    • Transitioning between direct instruction, application and collaboration, and reflection upon learning, a cycle that promotes engagement, thinking, and deeper learning
    • Designing curriculum that prioritizes depth over breadth
    • Building in time to "check for understanding" and to meet with individual students during class time to provide more immediate and individualized feedback for learning

    What are some examples of classes at New Trier that already use longer blocks of time?
    Even in the 9-period schedule, New Trier has always offered classes that are longer than 40 minutes. The most prominent example is in the Science Department. Science classes have always included lab days two times a week, scheduled as a double period. Having double-period lab days recognizes that setting up and instructing students in doing a hands-on experiment - and then giving them time to do that experiment, interact with their lab partners and teacher, record their findings, and clean up - is nearly impossible to accomplish in a 40-minute period. This example speaks to the benefits of the block schedule for other hands-on or performance classes, such as engineering, theatre, art, cooking, or KW, that have long been stymied by 40-minute periods.

    Outside of the Science Department, you can find other examples of successful, popular programs taught in blocks. These include American Studies and World Studies (both two periods), the Integrated Global Studies School (three periods), Geometry and Construction, AP Studio Art, and Dance Lab. New Trier teachers are experienced in providing engaging curricula during longer periods of time.

    One of the benefits you list for the block schedule is preparing for fewer classes each night. But won't teachers just double the nightly homework to make up for not seeing their students every day?
    New Trier's faculty members have spent three school years teaching in some form of a block schedule and have learned much during that time. In addition, faculty members have been sharing best practices and participating in professional development around teaching in a block schedule.

    One of the most important benefits of the block schedule is the ability of teachers to use the extended time in each class to check for student understanding in ways other than through nightly homework assignments. Teachers are preparing curriculum adjustments that facilitate a more in-depth study of essential topics and concepts and less on covering more content. As a result, students should not see more homework, but rather a different type of homework more aligned with the pace of a block schedule and a classroom environment that is focused on depth over breadth. Homework is still an important part of student learning in many cases, but the block schedule gives teachers the opportunity to rethink its role in their curriculum and its purpose in relationship to the learning objectives of the course.

    Do other peer schools use block schedules?
    Yes. Many other area high schools use some form of a block schedule. While some of these schools had a block schedule prior to adjustments for the COVID-19 pandemic, others have decided to switch from a traditional daily schedule to a block schedule using the lessons they learned during the pandemic. Area school districts that have moved to a full block schedule include Glenbrook District 225, Maine Township District 207, and Evanston Township District 202. Other districts that use a modified block schedule, with classes meeting in longer blocks for some days each week, include Lake Forest District 115 and Deerfield/Highland Park District 113.

    Is New Trier committed to keeping this schedule for future school years?
    New Trier will continue to gather feedback on the block schedule to make sure it is effective and to consider future refinements based on that feedback. 

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