Crowd at hearing is willing to try longer classes North Carroll High wants to extend its periods to 90 minutes next year

February 03, 1993|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

Despite some concerns about fewer, longer class periods and whether students and teachers will be able to focus for 90 minutes on one subject, most parents at North Carroll High School are game to try the new system next year.

North Carroll would be the second school in the state to go to four, 90-minute classes a day instead of seven, 47-minute classes. Classes will last one semester or, in some cases, nine weeks.

The proposal is heavily supported by teachers but still awaits final approval after parent comment last night and at two more forums tomorrow and next Wednesday.

"Ninety minutes is a long time to sit and listen to a teacher," said Josie Zahn of Hampstead, one of about 160 parents who attended last night.

But she said she believes teachers will incorporate other activities.

"I think it will be a mix of different things," Mrs. Zahn said.

Principal Gregory Eckles said the teachers will be trained so they include more active learning, such as discussions and laboratories.

They won't just lecture for 90 minutes.

"We want to change what the teachers are doing in the classroom," Dr. Eckles said.

Teachers who have trouble adapting will need help and support from other teachers, he said.

Gary Zahn said he hoped teachers won't run out of steam or material before the 90 minutes are up and turn over the extra time for students to do homework.

Janice Judy of Millers has a daughter taking chorus. Taking it all year would mean fewer choices for other non-academic courses, she said.

Herb Tracey, also of Millers, has a daughter who will attend North Carroll in two years, and teaches at a Baltimore County high school that is also considering the 90-minute periods.

Mr. Tracey, who teaches math, said he worried about the potential, long layover if the student skips a semester between math or foreign language courses.

"I don't think that's a fatal problem, but it needs to be discussed," he said.

Speaking in favor of the change were senior Shannon Walter and Carol Aberts of Hampstead, a parent on the school improvement committee.

"I'd like you all to leave here feeling good about it," Mrs. Aberts said. "If the parents have a positive attitude and the teachers have a positive attitude, and pass it on to the students, the transition will be much easier."

Social studies chairman Peter Litchka, who headed the committee that explored the idea, said the change will mean more time for instruction.

Instead of lengthening the school day, "Let's just make better use of the time we have here." he said.

"Your child's going to get an extra 228 hours in the classroom [over four years]," Mr. Litchka said.

Students will be able to earn 32 credits -- eight per year -- instead of 28, as with the current system.

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