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The Biweekly Challenge with Modified Semesters – It’s Not as Fun as it Sounds!

Posted in Community, Featured, Parent Education Resources, Special Ed. Tutoring, Tips & Advice

The Biweekly Challenge with Modified Semesters – It’s Not as Fun as it Sounds!

Last year in high schools across Ontario, there were octomester, quadmester, semester and full year schedules in addition to hybrid learning, presenting a dramatic transition from past academic years. Adapting to constant change was a major constant and theme for students, teachers, and families!

This year presents new challenges, as many secondary schools in the province have chosen to move to a modified semester model with biweekly classes.

How does a modified semester differ from a traditional semester schedule?

This is where a high school student has two subjects in week one and another two subjects in week two for a semester of five months. In this format, students are having to digest large amounts of content (and teachers are having to deliver it!) with a week off between rounds. Or, in some cases, two weeks or even four weeks, depending on how the semester is laid out.

What does this mean for students?

It means, it is not as fun as it sounds. For some high schoolers, this is an excellent form of learning. This routine allows them to immerse themselves in two subjects at a time and then take on two other subjects the next week.

The not-so-fun part is what happens in the week a student is “off” a subject?  How do they consolidate their learning? Many subjects lend themselves to this off time; however, many do not.

What our tutoring team recommends:

It will help your child to learn how to consolidate their learning in the “off” week.  We recommend that your son or daughter should spend some study time in the “off” week ensuring that they have fully understood all the concepts that were taught, have all the assignments completed and are ready for the next unit. While 1-2 hours per subject is a guide, study time differs depending on degree of difficulty of course. This may be a challenge while they are learning new ideas in their “on” week.  So, what does it look like and how can tutoring help?

Practical example:

Let us take a look at a typical grade 10 course layout.  Week one, the student has Science and Math. Week two is English and French.

In week one, focus on Science and Math. In week two, focus on English and French.

Sounds easy… but what do you do to ensure that the Science and Math are not lost in week two? One way to do that is to ensure that the student carves out time in their study routine each week to look back and look ahead. 

Here is a sample schedule for week two:

After English and French classes are done for the day, focusing on current subjects is key, but also dedicating time to previous week’s courses of Science and Math as well.

Monday of week two, spend one hour on Science.

Tuesday, one hour on Math. 

That still leaves time to focus on any English or French work that needs to be done. 

Wednesday, focus solely on the subjects from that week (English or French). 

Thursday, spend one more hour on Science.

Friday, one more hour on Math. 

In this scenario, your child has not only ensured that they are fully understanding the current subjects (English and French) but are also consolidating their learning in subjects from the other week (Science and Math) and preparing for the next unit. 

How can tutoring and academic coaching help my child?

By no means is this simple, as several students (and adults) struggle with organization, time management and meeting deadlines in the best of times. In addition to curriculum support, Teachers on Call’s online tutors assist students with academic coaching to guide students and keep them on track by equipping students with the necessary skills to help them survive and thrive in current environment. 

For all the reasons above, our tutoring team recommends consistent weekly tutoring in the same subject versus every other week which is often requested. Our online tutors will help students stay focused, (like personal trainers at gyms), as it’s easy to forget about the previous week’s learnings. “Out of sight, out of mind” as the famous saying goes.

As we said in the beginning – not exactly fun, but this approach will help ensure your child is not only up to date on the week’s current work, but they will have consolidated the previous learning and be ready when the schedule shifts back to week one.

The good news is that we are receiving great feedback from our families that this strategy of regular review and consolidated learning is paying off and helping students achieve successful results. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss in greater detail. We’re always here to help!

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