Big Shift Coming to Watertown High School Class Schedule

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Watertown High School students and teachers will have to adjust to a very different class schedule beginning in the fall of 2019. School officials say the new schedule will allow for more projects, longer times for labs and pefromances.

Currently, the high school has a schedule with six equal length class periods which meet in the same order every day. It is on a seven-day cycle in which advisory meets once a week. 

The current schedule has been in place for 20 years, but there has been a desire for some time to change it, Watertown High School Principal Shirley Lundberg told the School Committee Monday night. Discussions began last year, but the decision was made to delay making the change until the fall of 2019.

The new schedule will have different length classes on different days, classes will meet at different times and, on some days, will not meet at all. The schedule will rotate on a five-day cycle, Lundberg said.

School officials hope both students and teachers will benefit from having classes meet at different times of the day. 

“With no rotation, someone is getting the someone’s best time or worst time all year,” Lundberg said, adding that if someone is not a morning person, they won’t always have a particular class early in the day, and vice versa.

There will be seven class periods, but each day at least one class will not meet and six of seven classes will have an extended block once a week. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays one class will not meet, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays (which will have extended class periods) two classes will not meet. In the new schedule, advisory will meet once a week on Fridays.

The schedule was the product of work by a committee of 25 people, about 1/3 of the WHS staff. It was lead by Dean of Students Brian Brewer.

The goals were to:

  • Rotate classes so they don’t always meet at the same time
  • Have longer blocks for project-based learning, in-depth labs, performances, and demonstrations
  • Increase the advisory time, and
  • Support teachers who travel between schools

The committee looked at different schedules used by high schools in other districts. They came up with four potential models, and one schedule received the most votes from staff in a survey, Lundberg said.

Coming up with the right schedule took some tweaking, Brewer said. 

“It was challenging. We played around with things,” Brewer said. “It was like Jenga. We had to move things around.”

On days with longer blocks, classes with longer blocks meet for 76 minutes. On other days, they meet for 57 minutes. The exception is D period, which meets for 60 minutes each day, except for Wednesdays, when it does not meet. This is because D is also the lunch period. Brewer said there are three separate lunch sessions, and some students go to lunch and then have class, others have class then go to lunch. 

School Committee member Lily Rayman-Read was concerned about classes  that meet in D period.

“What happens you have a D block science class without a long block or an art class?” Rayman-Read said.

Brewer said the school will try to schedule classes so that science classes do not meet in D period.

While classes will meet an equal amount of times during the week, the length of the periods vary slightly. Three classes — B, D, and F — will meet 240 minutes a week, while A meets 241 minutes, C has 251 minutes, E meets for 243 minutes, and G has 244 minutes.

School Committee member Lindsay Mosca worried that some classes would be short changed.

“It seems like a significant amount of time (difference),” Mosca said. “Over time it adds up to a huge amount of time.”

Teachers will have professional development time to discuss how to adjust to not meeting every day, and having longer class blocks, Lundberg said.

To prepare the students and the their families for the new schedule, information sessions have been set up. The students will hear about it on Jan. 9, and parents can find out about the new schedule at a meeting at the WHS Lecture Hall on Jan 16, at 6 p.m.

See the entire slide presentation about the new Watertown High School schedule by clicking here.

One thought on “Big Shift Coming to Watertown High School Class Schedule

  1. How about the school lets the students decide if the schedule should change. As a student at WHS, I can’t find a single person who wants this new schedule just like with the new school start times. Why is the high school making things more complicated than it needs to be? It sucks!

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