The traditional school schedule most people think of is a seven or eight 45-minute period day. However, at Sheboygan South High School in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, its daily schedule is built with 30 15-minute periods. With a goal of redefining themselves and creating better opportunities for students, Sheboygan South switched to Flexible Modular Scheduling (Flex Mod) five years ago.
When looking at restructuring their schedule, Kevin Formolo, Principal at Sheboygan South High School, said, “we wanted to create a schedule that would give teachers the ability to access students during the day, and for students to be able to access teachers as well.” With their Flex Mod schedule, a single class is 14 to 16 mods per week. This allows teachers the ability to build the class schedule and phase it to allow for different sizes. Some days are for large groups where teachers can team teach together, other days they can break up the class for small groups, to provide individualized help to students.
Even students with a full-course load are able to have resource periods Sheboygan refers to as ‘Academic Learning Time’ under the Flex Mod schedule. “During these resource times in their schedules, students have an opportunity to go wherever they want and collaborate,” said Kevin. Sheboygan South has a student commons, as well as multiple, fully-staffed resource rooms for math, science, English, and social studies, along with resource areas for electives such as art and music.
To make sure students are where they’re scheduled to be, Sheboygan South uses Positive Attendance. Students are presumed absent until they check-in on a Positive Attendance device and are marked present in Skyward. The Positive Attendance devices are located in all classrooms and resource areas; each time a student moves to a new location, they scan their ID badge and their time-stamp and location are marked in Skyward. “We are really invested in knowing where our students are located. If a parent calls, I can tell them right away where the student is in the building when they scan in, even if they didn’t go to the right place,” said Kevin.
If needed these ‘Academic Learning Times’ can become structured learning. If a teacher notices a student struggling, they submit a form to the Counseling Center for the Registrar Secretary or Counselor and the student is temporarily scheduled to that subject’s resource room, ensuring they get the help they need. School staff are able to view the location in Skyward where the student checked-in during this resource period, making sure they are going where they need to go.
Another benefit for students at Sheboygan South is the ability to allow classes to conflict. If a required course overlaps with an elective, such as Orchestra, a student can be registered in both classes and plan with the teachers how to work it out. The staggered schedule allows students to either split the mods, alternate the classes, or use the ‘Academic Learning Time’ mod on the conflicting days.
Flex Mod scheduling not only benefits students, but teachers as well. Sheboygan South has its schedule built so teachers are able to meet twice a week to collaborate. This provides a culture with more opportunities to learn from each other, share ideas, and focus more on student progress. “Research indicates that teachers who have time during the school day to collaborate, are able to create better opportunities for students. With the flexible schedule, it has been a huge benefit for them in terms of being able to plan and create some comprehensive experiences,” Kevin said.
While the set up and time to transition a school to a Flex Mod is extensive, it can open many doors for both students and teachers. “You just have to build it, and once you have the students assigned to it, you are able to adjust it as needed in Skyward,” said Kevin.