Two years ago, Radhika Padmanabhan walked into her Class 4 classroom to teach the topic of weather with more than a bunch of lecture notes. Padmanabhan was armed with a host of teaching aids, and the luxury of knowing that the school bell wouldn’t ring in 30 minutes, signalling the end of class.
Padmanabhan was part of a three-week long action research project testing the effectiveness of block scheduling, a twist in the traditional timetable where 30 or 40-minute single-period slots are replaced by a consolidated 90-minute long ‘block’ period. Instead of just a lecture, students participate in activities, discussions and presentations.
The study was conducted with a group of 50 Class 4 students and was published in a journal last year. The results of the research project showed that students’ scores rocketed when they were taught through the block schedule method as compared to the single slot method.
“Teaching becomes more effective because you have more time and you don’t waste time recapitulating what has been taught in the earlier class,” said Padmanabhan, who now teaches chemistry at Pawar Public School in Bhandup.
“With block scheduling, you consolidate time and content, teaching as well as learning,” said Reni Francis, assistant professor at Pillai’s Education and Research in Chembur, who led the study. “The difference is that students are participating in activities, presentations, group discussions and it is not just about the teacher transmitting information.” A subsequent study on teaching strategies for teachers to use in the block-scheduled timetable, was presented at a conference last month.
Block scheduling was introduced in the ten schools run under the Pillai group of institutions a few years ago. Pawar Public School in Bhandup has been using the method in higher classes, while last year, Gundecha Education Academy, Kandivli, extended their 35-minute slot to 55 minutes.