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Nashua;50.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/nskc.png;2014-10-26 05:25:58
Thursday, July 24, 2014

New eBlock period to help students catch up, get ahead

Tina Forbes

The phasing-in of an “enhancement block” in the city’s two high schools was officially approved by the Nashua Board of Education last week. After several years of development from teachers, administrators and parents, the 35-minute “eBlock” period will be added to each student’s daily schedule starting Sept. 29.

“The initial focus would be on academics … remediation and enrichment,” Superintendent Mark Conrad said at a July 14 Board of Education meeting. ...

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The phasing-in of an “enhancement block” in the city’s two high schools was officially approved by the Nashua Board of Education last week. After several years of development from teachers, administrators and parents, the 35-minute “eBlock” period will be added to each student’s daily schedule starting Sept. 29.

“The initial focus would be on academics … remediation and enrichment,” Superintendent Mark Conrad said at a July 14 Board of Education meeting.

The eBlock team is prepared to begin its rollout this September, Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Seusing said at the same meeting.

The new extra time between 10:09 and 10:44 a.m. is meant to provide students with time for academic support or extracurricular activities during the day, rather than arranging their schedule to stay after school. Along with support from the eBlock classroom teacher, students can use the time to catch up on coursework and make-up credit.

Schools using similar programs have experienced benefits including reduced failure rates, Nashua High School North Principal Marianne Busteed said on a eBlock YouTube video.

“The main goal is to provide students time. It’s called eBlock because it comes with everything: enrichment, time to work with teachers, for students to work together on projects, and for remediation,” said Nashua High School North Principal Keith Richard.

He said students would be assigned to the same eBlock teacher throughout their four years in high school. The program is similar to the advisory classes at the city’s middle schools, but eBlock offers more flexibility, he said.

“Monday is scheduling day. Students can schedule out Tuesday through Friday for specific extra help. It gives students flexibility and ownership of their time,” Richard said.

Using mock pilot software called Aspen, 25-30 Nashua teachers already have tried out the scheduling program. Additionally, to facilitate phasing-in eBlock, there will be a summer training for teachers Aug. 21.

“For future prospects, we’re looking at students accessing Aspen to schedule themselves,” Richard said.

In the meantime, teachers will work with students to help them schedule out their eBlock period each week.

Richard said teachers can also “pre-schedule” students, guiding them toward extra help opportunities using the Aspen software when they anticipate an area of need.

“We’re ready to go. EBlock got approval from the Board of Education last week, and we’re excited to get started,” said Richard.

Tina Forbes can be reached at 594-6402 or tforbes@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Forbes on Twitter (@Telegraph_TinaF).