Lost Time Made Up in New Middle School Schedule


Image/Graphics by Mrs. Tina Bickel

Mrs. Moslak’s 5th-grade students working hard on assignments during their independent work practice.

West Branch Middle School has recently changed the order of its advisory period. Some students like the change, while others would rather it stay the same.

The previous schedule included 72 minutes of ELO ( Extended Learning Opportunities), which began at 1:00. Most students used to complete their required IXL time and get AR points. Then, at 2:16, ELO would end, and students would go somewhere else for Advisory, which mostly served as a study hall period, lasting until dismissal, at 2:40. The new system affects each grade level differently. 

Fifth-grade students stay in one room for four days, then rotate to another classroom for four days, repeating that cycle. For the first 30 minutes of class, students work on IXL to meet their required times. They then have a 45-minute period of instruction that teaches concepts that were missed last year due to COVID-19. The subjects vary depending on which teacher’s room the student is in. Finally, they end their day with 15 minutes of time devoted to AR reading so that they can get the required points. 

Student opinions on the change vary. Alexis Condon, a sixth-grade student, says, “I like it because we aren’t just sitting there doing nothing.” Sixth-grade students start with IXL from 1:00-1:35. At 1:35, they move to reading groups that vary by each student’s reading level. The reading groups end at 2:05, and then students go to math groups until dismissal at 2:40. 

Seventh-grade students switch to a different teacher every four days. They still have to meet IXL and AR requirements, but depending on which teacher they have, they’ll learn science, geography, ELA, or math. Evan Wooster, a seventh-grader, commented, “I don’t really like it. I feel like it’s kinda boring. I like Advisory more.” 

Eighth-graders also operate on a four-day rotation. Their first job is doing IXL questions or reading to get AR points. At 1:37, they go to Physical Education, which lasts until 2:16. Their final block of time is an instruction period. Tanner Scwiderske, an eighth-grade student, said, “It’s kinda neat to be able to do different subjects instead of sitting there doing IXL every day.” 

One of the main concerns for students is the sheer amount of time they have to spend in one class alone. The three core classes for the fifth-eighth grade students are 72 minutes each. Alexa Prestash, an eighth-grade student, addressed the issue: “I think 72-minute classes are stupid because classes shouldn’t be that long. It’s too much information for one class. This is as much time as a college student would have for a lab. We should have more specific classes.” With the old schedule, students felt that 72 minutes of ELO was too long. With the new schedule, the total time spent in ELO and Advisory is one hour and 38 minutes. However, the time is segmented, so it’s not all spent in one place. Students also leave on some days for PE, band, or chorus. 

Following this school year’s end, teachers and administrators will discuss the effectiveness of the new system, and they will decide if it will stay in place for the 2022-2023 school year.