Oak Lawn Community High School has adopted a new bell schedule for the 2016-17 school year that will allow students to arrive later, attend an advisory period, and attend an intervention/enrichment period with a staff member of the student's choice. Under the new schedule, students will start at 8:32 a.m. and be dismissed at 3:00 p.m. The new schedule is the result of a collaboration of several initiatives, the realignment of the school day, and providing each teacher with a preparation period at the start of the school day.
Teachers will still arrive each morning at 7:40 a.m. but instead of beginning their day with an instructional period, every teacher will have a "common plan period" a period that will allow the teachers to plan lessons, attend curriculum workshops, participate in technology training sessions, collaborate with co-workers, meet with instructional teams, and schedule appointments with students if desired.
The third period advisory program will allow staff members to provide social emotional learning (SEL) activities, stop-drop-read sessions, and opportunities for staff members to monitor student academic progress and to recommend resources for students. The typical advisory room will have 15 students. The smaller educational setting will provide students and staff members with the opportunity to foster relationships and promote a theme of school spirit and support.
The fourth period intervention period, referred to as "Spartan Plus", is a 24-minute period that will allow each student to select an intervention/enrichment session they want to attend. For example, if a student needs assistance in math, the student can self-select through Skyward to attend their math teacher's intervention room. The new schedule allows every teacher to be available during this time and offer interventions and enrichment activities. Students can also use the time to visit the media center, computer labs, quiet study halls, and the student services office. Spartan Plus replaces the school's current Access Periods and department resource rooms. The self-selection process will be similar to the Skyward process currently being used by students to sign-up for the Media Center.
Students will continue to follow a late-start schedule on Wednesdays with school starting at 9:20 a.m. and dismissing at 3:00 p.m. Staff members will use the time to meet in departmental and instructional teams. Unlike the other days of the week, students will not attend the advisory period or the Spartan Plus session on Wednesdays. According to Superintendent/Principal Dr. Riordan, when the new schedule was being developed it was deemed critical to continue providing staff meeting time on Wednesdays. During the past several years, late-start Wednesdays have been so crucial in the success of empowering our instructional teams, monitoring student growth, and growing our school as a professional learning community.
The minutes for the Spartan Plus and Advisory period were made available by reallocating the minutes from the ½ period study hall that accompanied a student's lunch period, repurposing the time dedicated to Access, and shortening each academic period by a few minutes. The lunch periods have also been reduced from six to five sessions. Some students will have a course split to accommodate their lunch. Although the split course lunch option is new to the school, the practice has been used successfully for years at other schools.
Another component of the new schedule is a "zero" hour from 6:50 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. four days per week on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Zero hour will allow students to take a seventh class at no additional cost. Previously, students had to pay a $400.00 fee for the seventh class option.
The schedule still allows eligible juniors and seniors to have late arrival or early dismissal; however, full-period lunches for junior/seniors and off-campus lunch for seniors will not be offered.
According to Assistant Principal Dr. Lietz, the new schedule is supported by a 2014 American Academy of Pediatrics study that recommended that middle and high schools should not start their school day before 8:30 a.m. The 2014 study stated, "The evidence strongly suggests that a too-early start time to the school day is a critical contribution to chronic sleep deprivation among American adolescents." The bell schedule has so many advantages and I am very excited for the implementation. The opportunity for students to meet with their teachers for additional help is what was missing in our previous intervention models. With the new schedule, every teacher will be available to assist students during the school day. Students will no longer have any excuse not to visit their teacher for help.
The new bell schedule will take effect in August. Students will learn who their advisory teacher is when the course schedules are released in August.
Click here to view the 2016-17 Bell Schedule