Upper School Schedule
Calhoun's Upper School Schedule is based on the understanding that students learn best when class time permits student-directed inquiry, deep exploration and experiential learning. The schedule is also designed so that excursions into the city, and community-engaged approaches to learning, can become a regular part of schooling. (See this article in The New York Times, "At Elite School, Longer Classes Go Deeper," June 2011.)
Based on a 5-MOD SYSTEM and a 6-DAY ROTATION, with a DAILY BLOCK SYSTEM, Calhoun's Upper School schedule is a unique feature of our progressive approach to teaching and learning... but it is not "uniquely" Calhoun--numerous progressive institutions across the country have successfully implemented similar Mod programs.
This is what a week looks like:
Rather than two semesters, the school year is organized into five MODS (modules, or terms) that are 30-34 days long. During each module, students study between three to five subjects. In the mod system, while some classes will be continuous, occurring in consecutive modules, others will be designed for only one module. A modular calendar allows our students to explore subjects in greater depth and facilitates interdisciplinary investigations. This structure, which allows for more sustained time devoted to a class, also enhances the one-on-one relationships between students and teachers that undergird Calhoun's personalized approach to education.
The schedule is built on a SIX-DAY ROTATION; class meetings are not linked to the days of the week, but rotate through days one through six. The reason for this structure is to avoid missing a day of classes when a holiday occurs. For example, if next Monday is going to be day three, but Monday happens to be Columbus Day, Tuesday becomes day three and the rotation continues uninterrupted. Each day includes four 60-minute classes and one 45-minute class. Once a rotation, each class enjoys a double block.
Studies show that students are at their most productive at certain times of the day, so by having classes meet at different times, it ensures that no one class "suffers" from student fatigue. It also means that student athletes don't miss the same class if they have to leave at the end of the day for an away game.
BLOCK scheduling poses multiple advantages for both students and teachers. Among the advantages, teachers have fewer classes to prepare for and therefore have more time to develop key concepts, design innovative lesson plans that offer a variety of modalities for learning, and to work in-depth with students. Significantly, because teachers have fewer students to teach, they get to know their students more personally and are able to adapt lessons and content material to student interest. This kind of interpersonal relationship is frequently touted as one of the highest motivators for student learning. Students, for their part, are able to explore fewer subjects at a time in greater depth, which enables greater understanding and retention, as well as an enhanced ability to apply the concepts they are learning.
Yes! Every student and teacher enjoys a common 60-minute free block in the morning, called Community Time. This block starts with cluster advisor meetings. The remainder of the time is used for one-on-one tutorials, to do collaborative work on student projects, for club meetings, or just to hang out with friends. Once a rotation, on day six, Town Meeting occurs during this time.
There are both required courses and electives in a Calhoun student's schedule.
Generally, as students move up the grades they have more choice. For example while there is a core English class for 9th and 10th graders, 11th and 12th graders select from a menu of literature and writing classes. There is also time in every student's schedule, in every grade, to explore various interests by taking electives in any department.