Comments may have been edited for brevity or clarity
Note: The question of how to schedule a course to cover all Student's Friend units within your available time frame is discussed in the Teacher's Aids area. Two sample schedules are provided. click here
Can I fill an 85-minute block?
Dec. 2010, Joel, first-year teacher, Iowa
Student's Friend reply:
You know, I hadn't been teaching too long before I had a real hard time fitting in all the things I wanted to accomplish during my 90-minute block. I suppose you have looked at my suggestions for covering the content in the Student's Friend alternative textbook. If not, click here and see "Covering the Material." And I have some lesson plan ideas including various projects and a seminar in the "Teacher Tools" section. click here. Essay questions and reports can take a lot of time including some library time.
I tried to begin every class with a thought and discussion question on the blackboard. When the bell rang, the kids started working on it while I took attendance and had quick meetings with individual students. Then we would discuss these questions as a class, which could end up involving some time depending on where the discussion went. These questions are included in the Study Guides that I prepared for each unit. click here
Hope this helps, and keep me posted.
Jan. 2011, Student's Friend reply
Also, when do you assign the research paper? Do you do it at the beginning of the unit and let them have x amount of weeks to work on it? I am going to start the research paper process by putting the kids through a library scavenger hunt, helping them understand how to research and utilize the resources we have at our school.
Thank you very much for helping me with this! I very much appreciate all the resources you have provided me with. Finding the resources is what takes me the longest (it took me two months to find your website!!)
Student's Friend reply:
Research Paper: I assigned it during the first week of class, but there is no reason you would have to follow suit. (Scavenger hunt would be a slick way to get students familiar with library resources--good idea.) My students chose one of the bold topics in the Student's Friend as the subject of their paper, or they could choose a different topic with teacher approval. I took the kids to the library for three research sessions to get them started, and to check their first 15 notecards for proper formatting. Then we spent no further class time working on the papers, and the remaining products were due at appropriate intervals. A word of caution...try to have the paper come due well before the end of the semester. It is no fun to read and grade the papers (and return them for a revision if that's your choice) while trying to complete all your other year-end duties including final exams.
I don't want to fall behind.
Sept. 2001, Keith, teacher, North Carolina
Student's Friend reply
I am on the block system with 90-minute classes for one semester; this is equivalent to a full year course with traditional 45-50 minute classes. I will cover only Part 1 during this semester with my ninth-grade students. I am just finishing Unit 1, with the Unit 1 exam scheduled for tomorrow. I am on schedule to complete Part 1 of the Student's Friend by the end of the semester on January 11th. I will do Part 2 next year with my tenth-grade students.
During the early units I will use only key points to cover the material. I will not go to study questions or notes/quizzes until later in the semester when I am confident that students understand how to find the essential information. (See: Using the Student's Friend.) Probably on pages 9 and 10, I will begin using notes/quiz. Then on pages 11 and 12 I will begin using study questions. During the remainder of the semester I will alternate between the three approaches, using one approach for a couple of pages, then switching to another approach for the next pages, and so on.
This approach leaves us time to engage in supplemental activities. My students have started their research paper. We have spent most of three class meetings in the media center doing research. We won't be using any more class time for research. Students will complete the rest of the research paper activities on their own time outside of class. Our next in-class activity will probably be the Illustrated Timeline Project described in the Teacher Tools section of the website.
Throughout the semester we will cover the essential body of knowledge using the Student's Friend, and we will simultaneously be engaged in other reinforcement activities such as the research paper or the Illustrated Timeline Project. I also use video materials to reinforce the body of content knowledge.