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STUREC© and "Block Scheduling"



Several LEAs running Alternative Education programs have asked how they might utilize STUREC© to create "Block Schedules" or Non-standard style student schedules. A new trend seems to be emerging among Alternative educators as relates to student schedules. In a nutshell, many of you would like to get away from the traditional style of 5 to 8 classes scheduled sequentially for the same amount of time throughout the day and week and move to a schedule that groups fewer classes per day, but spreads them throughout the week.

For example, a traditional schedule might look like this...

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
English English English English English
Earth Science Earth Science Earth Science Earth Science Earth Science
History History History History History
Algebra Algebra Algebra Algebra Algebra
Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
Biology Biology Biology Biology Biology
Social Studies Social Studies Social Studies Social Studies Social Studies
Literature Literature Literature Literature Literature
Health Health Health Health Health

Pretty boring, right? The students and teachers think so too! Block Scheduling, or Non-Traditional scheduling is a concept that will provide the same amount of class time per class and per week and per semester, but in a different format that allows the students and teachers to spend more time at a time on a particular subject and break the week into different sized and shaped chunks. The following may illustrate this concept.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
English Earth Science English Earth Science English

Earth Science

History Algebra History Algebra History

Algebra

Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
Biology Social Studies Biology Social Studies Biology

Social Studies

Literature Health Literature Health Literature

Health

This scheme allows for the classes to meet for twice as long at each meeting, but have fewer meetings spread throughout the first four days of the week. For instance in a traditional schedule each class might meet for 45 minutes, 8 classes per day for five days per week resulting in 30 hours of class time per week and 495 to 510 hours per semester. The Block Schedule or Non-Traditional schedule would have four of the classes meet for 1 hours per meeting on Mondays and Wednesdays, the other four classes meet for 1 hours each on Tuesdays and Thursdays, then have each class meet for 3/4 hour on Fridays. This arrangement provides the same number of class hours as a traditional schedule, but in a more creative and hopefully useful way.

How does STUREC© do things. STUREC© makes some basic assumptions about your classes when you set them up thru Menu:5.2. First, it assumes that the class meets for the same amount of time each day that it is scheduled. Well, that sure throws the proverbial monkey-wrench in the works, we want to schedule our class to meet three days per week, but the first two meetings will be for 1 hours and the third meeting for 3/4 hour for a total of 3-3/4 hours per week. If we set it up for three meetings per week and 1.5 hours per meeting, STUREC© will say "Ok, three meetings per week and each meeting is 1.5 hours therefore the total hours per week is 4-1/2". That's not right, so we change the

total hours per week to 3.75, now STUREC© will look at that and say "Ok, three meetings per week, total time per week is 3.75, therefore each class must meet for 1.25 hours."

Holy mackerel, this is going to drive me crazy! Why can't Mr. STUREC© just do what I want it to do? It can. Here is the solution for now... You will need to create two class set-up records. Look at this example:

2114-01 English - 12th Grade M W 09:00 AM 1.50 hrs per meeting

3.00 hrs per week

2114-F1 English - 12th Grade F 09:00 AM .75 hrs per meeting

.75 hrs per week

What we have done here is to fake out STUREC© a little bit, we set up section "01" of our course to meet two days per week for 1.50 hours per meeting (equal meeting time, remember), then we set up our Friday instance of the same class and give it the "F1" section number. The "F" acts as a mnemonic for Friday.

Assuming a 17 week semester, STUREC© will calculate the FTE value for section 01 as 0.103 and the FTE value for section F1 as .026. When these are added together they equal 0.129 FTE which is what we want. When you get to the audit function in FTEREC both sections will be on display and you can put the correct "Actual" value for each section even if STUREC©'s automatic rule checker gives one of the sections a zero. If both sections are zero, be careful about validating the class.

As far as Grades and Credits go, just set the 01 section up with the full amount of credit you will grant and the Friday section with zero credit. At grade time only give a grade to the 01 section and leave the grade for the Friday class empty. STUREC© will not print empty grades on the report card.

This really does work. But it is still cumbersome. Now let's check out "Alternative Schedules".


STUREC© and "Alternative Schedules"

Ok, pay attention now, because we are entering the exciting area of Alternative Schedules as modeled by STUREC© from the real world to the imaginary world of software!

Alternative Schedules look just like the Block Schedules that we have been studying, but easier to set-up and use. With Alternative Schedules, we won't have to set-up two parts to the class and attempt to "fake-out" STUREC©. First, we shall define some alternate schedules to STUREC©. Go to Menu 7.3.3.10. Schedule Codes. You will probably get a message that the SCHEDULE look-up file is empty, well of course it is. Just press Enter twice and a new screen will pop up and the message box will tell you to "Enter a new Code and Definition please..."

Enter the letter "A" for the code and name it "Alt Schedule A", press Enter and you will be presented with Monday through Friday and asked for the hours for each meeting day, try this:

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri

1.50 0.00 1.50 0.00 0.75

You just told STUREC© that Alternate Schedule A will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays for one and a half hours and on Friday for three quarters of an hour for a total of three and three quarter hours per week! Try another example: Code "B" named "Alt Schedule B" and fill in Tuesday and Thursday for an hour and a half and Friday for forty five minutes. Ok, the hard part is done, now let's go to Menu 5.2. Class Set-Up Procedure. Select and enrollment period, put in a course code and make up a section code of "ZZ" (just for testing). Now look at the message box: "Enter an Alternate Schedule code, [?] Help or <space> for none..." What are you gonna' do? Press "A" and look what happened. STUREC© looked in your Alternate Schedule file and found a definition for "A" and popped M W F in the days bucket. Follow thru and when you get to the "TOTAL COURSE HOURS" the total will be there for you. If you are running a 17 week semester, the total hours will be 63.75. Now STUREC© will show you 1.25 HOURS/MEETING, but that is the average hours per meeting, but we know that each Monday and Wednesday are 1.5 hours and each Friday is 3/4 hour (so does STUREC©). Go ahead and finish setting up this class so we can try it.

Go to Menu 1.1. Select by Individual and call up one of your current students. Enroll him/her in the class that you just set up. That's all there is to it! Now when you enter attendance for this student in this class, STUREC© will know that a "P" on Monday or Wednesday means 1.5 hours and a "P" on Friday means .75 hour. Cool, eh? Since the total class hours are what we need, the FTE process is going to be happy too. Make sure you set the class up as Traditional and everything will be fine.

Now you can go back to Menu 7.3.3.10. Schedule Codes and create whatever Alternate Schedules that you may need for your program.

Now that you have Alternative Schedules under control, let's move on to...


STUREC© and "Learning Blocks"

Holy mackerel, now what? Some of you may have been utilizing a feature we introduced a couple years ago called Learning Labs. Sorry! They are no longer learning labs - they are now "Learning Blocks" and we are going to use them a little more simply but cleverly. What is a Learning Block? At its simplest, it is simply an organized block of time in which the student learns stuff.

See if this scenario is something like what you do in your Alternative Education program. You have teachers available all day and students come in and do kind of "independent studies" type stuff. They are really taking five to eight subjects, but they work kind of independently with teachers on each subject for a while, then do something else till they get bored, then do something else. Does this sound like your place. Cool! How are you going to keep track of it - and keep the auditors happy?

Here is STUREC©'s suggestion. Go to Menu 5.1. Master Course Catalog, enter a zero and name the department "Learning Blocks". Now create four blocks: 0101 Fall AM Block, 0102 Fall PM Block, 0201 Winter AM Block, 0202 Winter PM Block. Good, we just created the base structure for morning and afternoon Learning Blocks for both Fall and Winter semesters. Escape out of there and go to Menu 5.2. Class Creation Function.

Select enrollment period 1, enter "0101" for the course code and "Fall AM Block" will pop-up. Now enter "1A" for the section number. The message box will tell you to press [A] to Add this new class, do it. When asked for an Alternate Schedule code, press the space bar once. For meeting days, press the "X" five times and hit Enter. STUREC© will change the Xs to your Day Picture. Now put in a suitable starting time and whatever building code and room number is appropriate. Enter the lead instructor's name, make it a member of the "ALT" group (or whatever is appropriate). Leave the credit at 0.50 for now. Put "2A" in the Federal location code. Now Exception: No, Traditional: Yes and it should pop "1A" in the list code. Press Enter and probably you will be told that it is not on the list, would you like to create it now? Answer Yes, create the code and name it "AM Block - F". Let's think ahead, while you are in the Combined Codes set-up box, create "1P PM Block - F" also. Keep going, create "2A AM Block - W" and "2P PM Block - W". Do you see a pattern here?

Hit Escape to close the declaration box and select "1A" from the red help box. Now STUREC© wants to know how many teaching weeks for this class. Enter 17, now the total number of class meetings will be calculated to 85, but type over "83" (no classes on Thanksgiving and the day after). For the hours per meeting put in three. This will calculate to 249.00 hours for the enrollment period. Is this what we want? No! Here is the thinking, PUPils must meet 1,047 hours for the 1998-99 academic year for one FTE. That means they have to have 523.50 hours for a semester (half year), and they must have 261.75 hours for a half day Learning Block. Type in 261.75 and see what happens. STUREC© just recalculated the hours per meeting to 3.15 (that's three hours and nine minutes to the decimally challenged).

Now enter the first day of school, try September 14 just to keep it simple. Change the end date to January 22, 1999 and confirm "2" repeats. Holy Cow! Look what STUREC© did, it calculated the PUPil FTE to be "0.500", exactly what we want. Go ahead and verify that you are setting up for period 1, finish out and Accept to make the class Valid. You just set-up your first Learning Block. Now set-up 0102 for the afternoon with section number 1P. Do it just like this one, except for the starting time. Man, this part is easy!

Now what, you ask. Let's assume that you have all of your academic subjects properly setup in the Master Course Catalog with appropriate course codes. If not, take a break then do it! The rest of this Learning Block stuff depends on a properly setup MCC.

Ok, let's review then finish seeing how easy this will be. You have set-up two blocks, one for morning and one for afternoon, each with a total of 261.75 hours per enrollment period and a calculated FTE value of 0.500 for PUPils.

Now this is what your Learning Block schedule looks like:

You could create any number of blocks; three, four or more during the day, even more than one block occupying the same time period. The key to Learning Blocks is that they really are for the full week. They don't all have to be for the same length of time per day/week, but it should be possible for a pupil to enroll in at least 523.5 hour per semester to assure the 1,047 hours per year.

Good, now we can enroll a student. You know how to do this, go to Menu 1. Student Enrollment Data, select by Individual and sign up: Daffy Duck, 123 4th Street, Yourtown, MI 49000. Make his birthday June 1st 1981, REC: 2 and he is a Male. Finish it out and Accept. Enroll him for the current year as an ALT

(be sure you answer Yes to the Waiver question), put in whatever Status and

Program might be appropriate. When the Class Schedule box pops up, press the plus sign to Add a class. We are going to put him in 0101 Fall AM Block and section 1A. STUREC© will ask you to verify the enrollment date.

Once you verify the enrollment date, you will be asked to enter the COURSE CODE of the Academic subject that your student will be studying during the Learning Block time period. You will probably want to enter two to four Academic subjects in this one block. In the past, we have equated approximately 120 hours with one credit. The block is 261 hours which is roughly two full credits or four half credits.

What about attendance, you ask. Easy! We will record attendance in the Learning Block just like we would any other class. For the first day of class, try this: Print a regular attendance turn-around sheet by Learning Block and a Grade turn-around by Learning Block. This will give your teacher the attendance sheet they will need and the grade sheet will show the teacher which academic subject each student is signed up for. Cool, eh!

Let's think about what we have done. We created a shell - the Learning Block - so the computer could help us simplify the task of keeping track of these amorphous blobs known as Alternative Ed students. We created two half-day blocks, but you could create only one full-day block. Do you think that the auditors would understand that?

Or, you could do as one program did and set up five Learning Blocks per day. Each block was devoted to a group of subjects. For example; all English type classes, all computer classes, all Communications classes, all Math & Science classes... Each block was about 130 hours or 1 credit value. Each student was expected to sign up for four blocks. That way they would be one full FTE. You see the possibilities.

The teachers retain the responsibility of working with the students and evaluating their progress relative to a particular Academic subject. You provide them with easy to use tools - the attendance and grade turn-around sheets. You

record the attendance that the teacher reports, into the Learning Block shell we created for this purpose, but you record grades and credit from the grade turn-around sheets. STUREC© will automatically create the transcript entries for you from this data.

What about FTE, you ask. Man, this is gonna' be so easy it should be a sin. Go into the FTEREC sub-menu (Menu 8) and select 1. Audit Student Worksheet. Choose PUPils from the Funding Source Menu. Verify the enrollment period and correct count date. You will see a message about counting pupils, choose whichever method your boss wants. Next choose Manual audit. You will be asked if you want to check just the count date, or the entire count week. Answer as you boss says, probably should select count Date since we are using Learning Blocks.

Now you can just press Enter twice to start at the beginning of the alphabet. STUREC© will show you the student and the blocks they are enrolled in along with the calculated FTE value. You will also see attendance for two weeks before the count week, the count week and three weeks after the count week. STUREC© will tell you if the student is countable or not-countable - you simply agree or disagree for each of the student's Learning Blocks, then press Page Down, get the next student and keep doing it until you are done.

That's all there is to it! Next execute FTEREC Menu option4. Create Bedsheet Print File after which you will get the "DS-4061-A" summary report. Give this to the boss, and take the rest of the day off. Cool!


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