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  • 5x5 block schedule seems to be working out for high school students

By Myrna Trauntvein
Times-News Correspondent

Students at Juab High have a better opportunity to add to their knowledge base with the new 5X5 schedule.
"Under the seven-period day," said Dr. Rick Robins, principal of Juab High School, "we offered 180 course selections. Under the 5X5, we offer 240 course selections."
He said the school was now able to offer Personalized Learning. That phrase is used to define the tailoring of curriculum and learning environments to meet the needs of individual learners, often with extensive use of technology in the process.
In addition, the choices were customizing education for the learner.
Customization refers to the capacity to routinely customize products and services through computer applications and technologies to meet the specific needs and desires of individuals.
iTunes does that, and so can education.
For example, said Robins, the school now offers as part of the school day schedule, new for the 2012-2013 school year, Russian, Creative Writing, Film Video Production, Graphic Arts, Ceramics, Journalism, FFA Leadership, Animal Science II, Micro-Biology, Wildlife Biology, Current Events, World War II History, Drill Team, Cheer Team, Governing Youth Council (Leadership Service), Guitar, Percussion, Men and Women Choir, Madrigal Choir, Law Enforcement, Cross Fit Training, Girls Power Weight Training, Environmental Science, Advanced Drama, Wasp Academy (Freshman Advisory), Double Blocked Math (every other day), and Wasp Online.
"Our teachers have been great," said Robins. "We have a lot of communication."
He said that Dr. Jim Shank, superintendent, had told him that the school would plan ahead and the district had done that. There was a plan in place and the school had spent the necessary time preparing for the new 5X5 day.
"Now that we have developed customization and personalization, the sky is the limit and we can do amazing things," he said.
Students have been empowered with choices.
Some outcomes require hands-on opportunities and some outcomes are best learned through individual or group projects; others might be best learned by shadowing a professional community member.
Scheduling can make it all happen with the tool of technology combined with great teaching and leaving the school principal in control of the system.
The 5X5 system has one challenge, that of scheduling lunch times.
"The reality is, that is it a long day," said Robins. "For some students it is a long time from breakfast to lunch."
Students were told that their would be snacks available to keep them going when they had the late lunch schedule but, as it had worked out, most found they were early one day and late the next.
"It balanced out within 30 students, or so," he said.
Math was much more rigorous and difficult, said Robins. Some students were taking math everyday, and that was an option that was available to students.
"It is more difficult for parents to help students with math at home," said Robins.
Many students were seeking tutoring options and were getting extra help so that they could stay on top of the rigorous requirements.
Math should be a K-12 focus, as was literacy, so that the skills needed develop along the way. The district had been very successful in the literacy development and would also be in the math program.
"We are still using CRT," said Robins.
A criterion-referenced test is one that provides for translating test scores into a statement about the behavior to be expected of a person with that score or their relationship to a specified subject matter. The objective is to see whether the student has learned the material being taught. Criterion-referenced assessment can be contrasted with norm-referenced assessment.
The school's CRT scores have made some tremendous growth and, even though the math scores show that students are 51 percent proficient, the school was still in the top of the state-wide proficiency. However, math scores will continue to improve as the district works toward the goal of working on skills from Kindergarten on.
"Technology is important to the mix," said Robins.
Juab School District now has six buildings that are wireless and there are 75 wireless access ports.
Five schools have IP phones, there are 692 desktop/laptop computers, 268 iPads, 515 iPods, 390 laptop/mobile labs, 16 servers, 120 projectors, 90 Smart Boards, said Shank.
In the future, plans are to provide website upgrades, additional network capacity, computer adaptive testing, customized learning platform, continued hardware advancements and 1:1 mobile learning at the high school.
"The piece that is and will be the game changer, will be technology," said Robins. "We can't use traditional methods."
The WASP Academy, which is for Freshmen, is also a beneficial step which the school has taken, said Robins.