All AAPS high schools will follow same six-period block schedule

Clara Bowman, Editor-in-Chief

Updated Aug 11 at 8:58 a.m.

From five unique schedules to one. All Ann Arbor public high schools will transition to a common six-period block schedule, in semesters, for the 2020-2021 school year.

“As we transition to our new school environment to the fall of the 20-21 school year, we kept our core principles at heart: mastery teaching and learning, equity, creating opportunities for all students to succeed and relationship as the foundation,” Skyline principal Cory McElmeel said in an Aug. 9 video detailing options for high school students for the fall. “We have to be conscious of the environment into which we are stepping into, a virtual learning environment in which our students will need to be somewhat self-managers of the pace and learning environment in our system.”

Consistency across AAPS schools was an important focus for AAPS officials. They also considered the challenges and opportunities virtual learning poses to construct a schedule that allows learning and making connections to be manageable for all students.

“All students will be engaged in a daily block schedule,” Huron principal Janet Schwamb said in the same video. “There are real, distinct advantages to being in a block schedule, it gives you a longer period of time. Students will have a six-period schedule. That’s less courses that students have to deal with, and so that reduces some of the workload on a given day.”

Students’ spring elective choices will still be utilized to determine their classes for the 2020-2021 school year. A 7th period choice is available for students to take an additional elective. This class meets at the end of every school day for one hour and will remain virtual the entire year. 7th period course offerings will be communicated with students in the future. Any student can take a 7th class as long as they communicate to their counselor that they would like to do so. 

Blocks will be 105 minutes long and meet twice a week, either on Mondays and Thursdays, or Tuesdays and Fridays, while Wednesdays will have no synchronous classes.

Courtesy of AAPS

“While the district is on a virtual model, Wednesdays for students in the block schedule will be asynchronous,” Schwamb said. “They will not be physically or virtually engaging with their teachers. It will be more to work that they will be doing independently.”The new block schedule also includes a 40-minute advisory period every day, excluding Wednesdays. 

“That advisory period is a place where deep connections will be made between teachers and students,” Schwamb said. “There will be social and emotional learning, mentoring, and it’s a really advantageous component whether students are in brick and mortar schools or in a virtual setting.

Personal Project will be incorporated into advisory for sophomores. Juniors and seniors taking full DP/CP will be in separate advisories where respective Core Class material will be covered.

Transitioning to this new schedule will pose different challenges and opportunities for each high school. Principals will provide additional information in coming days with school-specific details.

“This daily schedule, and this semester calendar are going to provide us with greater opportunities to assure that our students continue to receive the best of instruction and access to our full curriculum in the Ann Arbor Public Schools,” Executive Director of High School Education Paul DeAngelis said.

All Ann Arbor Public Schools will begin on Sep 8. A shortened schedule from 8:30 – 11:40 a.m. will be followed the first week of classes, with students’ first full day on Sep 14.