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Flexible Timetables

Started by Bronwyn Gibbs 10 Apr 2015 6:43pm () Replies (20)

Kia ora, I would like to implement a flexible learning timetable in my class. I'm trying to get my head around how this will work! I would love to hear from anyone with ideas, advice, how to's ....... Thanks, Bronwyn smiley 


  • Hilary Bevin (View all users posts) 17 Apr 2015 8:55am ()

    Jane, thank you for sharing the Wairakei video about differentiating learning. That was great to have a video and see how it is practically used (i enjoy visuals!) We are 2 teachers with 46 students new to MLE and chrome books, google docs and harpara all start this term so there is a lot to learn and manage.

    Do most people use google sites now? We have KnowledgeNet at our school but find it a little 'clunky' and with the coming in of google docs etc possibly google sites would be easier to manage learning and resources for students?

    Would love to hear how more people do the learn it, practise it, prove it and also any other ways you monitor your learning tasks (must dos, can dos) for your students on google docs.

    New to VLN and learning so much already so thanks to all! :) 

  • Jane Armstrong Bos (View all users posts) 06 May 2015 11:15am ()

    Hi Hilary,

    If you need help or advice with next steps you could contact the Connected Learning Advisory. This service is provided free of charge to all state and state-integrated New Zealand schools. It is funded by the Ministry of Education and managed by CORE Education.

    There is also a lot of content on Enabling e-Learning with teachers sharing how they are using google docs especially for writing. I know it can all get a bit overwhelming looking for things and working out what is the best way forward for your students.

    Some things that maybe of particular interest to you might be:

  • Jane Armstrong Bos (View all users posts) 17 Apr 2015 8:18am ()

    In this video Planning for differentiated learning at Wairakei School teacher, Kate Friewald describes how she uses Google spreadsheets to create her weekly plan, maths plans, and literacy plans. She shares these with students who have "must dos and can dos". Students are split into cooperative work groups. Each group member has a number of "must dos", to complete within the morning block, and some blank time to structure their own learning focused on their learning needs.

    You can see more from students' perspectives on the Universal Design for Learning page on Enabling e-Learning.

  • Matt Ives (View all users posts) 15 Apr 2015 11:32am ()

    We've been doing the flexible timetable thing at Amesbury School for a while now. It's important to understand that student self-management using flexible timetables and in independent time is something that is learned and requires ongoing reflection - it won't be easy at the start. It's also crucially important that we give students this time though, as they can never learn to be self-managing with time / behaviour if they are never given the chance to practise. School can be a place to learn how to do this.

    Here are a few points we've learned:

    Like others here have mentioned, having appropriately challenging / authentic tasks to choose from during independent time is key. We make sure all students have followups from their core lessons (reading, writing, maths) which are their Must Dos, and then can select from a range of personally interesting Can Dos (a passion project, coding, art, etc). The Must Dos are non-negotiable, the Can Dos may or may not happen depending on time. We make sure they have enough Must Dos / Can Dos to fill out the week so that no kids are knocking about with nothing to do - that's when the behaviour issues start.

    Team-teaching helps make this work. We have four teachers in the hub - this means three teachers can be taking workshops / 1:1 with kids, and the other teacher is "on roam" supervising the kids during their independent time. When I'm on roam I'm on constant loops around where the children are working, which is all around the school. It's good exercise! When two teachers are on roam you can stop with more kids and discuss / conference more, but when it's just one, it's pretty full on simply supervising.

    Specify different zones for different tasks. A difficulty with independent time is students distracting each other. If you specify a certain zone in the classroom / school is for collaborative work, and then some areas are for quiet independent work, you can have kids choosing which zone works best for them for certain tasks. I've also developed "flow signs" which kids can use to indicate to other kids they are in flow and don't want to be disturbed.

    Must Do / Can Do tracking. We have 1:1 Chromebooks, so use Trello, a Chrome app for task management. On Monday, kids set their Must Dos and choose their Can Dos. As they move through the week completing tasks, they move them over to the done side. This is important as you WILL have students trying to repeat the more fun tasks instead of doing the ones they find challenging. This is to be expected though, and it's good learning to sit down with kids and talk about prioritisation. When we didn't have 1:1 we used paper timetables of the week which we put up on the wall, kids writing their Must Dos and Can Dos on there.

    Portion of the day. Currently, we do this independent time for two blocks of the day or less - this isn't like a whole day thing. The other block is whole group inquiry / writing stuff. During independent time they check if they are in a workshop (using an overall hub timetable) and if not, they get into their Must Do Can Do tasks. They might have a workshop after half an hour, in which case they need to independently pack up and go to meet the teacher in the right place, or they might not have a formal workshop at all. Yes, students are sometimes late / unorganised, but again, these are good learning conversations to have and you can set goals for kids to be more aware of this.

    Anyway - just a few of the bits and bobs we've been doing. Interested to hear how others are doing! Ask away if you need any clarifications.

  • sandrafraser (View all users posts) 12 Apr 2015 12:21pm ()

    I have been experimenting with independent (what I call flexible timetables) timetables for a few terms now.  It is a work in progress that keeps evolving as I work out what works and what doesn't.

    I am in large, extremely busy intermediate school where our days are broken into four 65 minutes blocks. I have a year 7 BYOD class.  Initially, I tried to get students to plan their whole week keeping in mind the non-negotiables such as assemblies, PE etc. students found this overwhelming so I broke it down into days.  Each morning I write on the board what needs to be worked on today eg Maths, Reading etc. I also write up any teacher instructional time eg Reading group X will be with teacher block one.  Students then plan their day around this.  All the work they have to do is either on Hapara or Schoology.  

    The hardest part I think is the setting up of the work especially at the start of the term. eg Reading groups as you can't see every group on the first day so you have to have other activities ready for them to do independently.  However, once it is all up and running I find I have more time to work with students giving them feedback/feedforward, conferencing with them etc.

    Students seem to really enjoy it too.  When I first started trialling this I asked the class after a few days what they thought, most seemed to really like it.  One comment has stayed with me, one girl said "I like choosing when I do maths, as my brain is not awake enough for numbers first thing in the morning" - I always used to do maths first thing in the morning.

    This is just my perspective and as I say it keeps evolving.  I think you just need to jump in and have a go.  See what works and doesn't work for you and your class.  Good luck!

  • Vicki Hagenaars (View all users posts) 12 Apr 2015 10:04am ()

    Something tangible I have seen in use at Bulls School quite successfully for their senior students are these clever wee bottles from Sparkle Box called Mustard Must-Do, Mayo may-Do and Ketchup Catch-Up. 


  • Chris Meehan (View all users posts) 11 Apr 2015 10:11pm ()

    Reading Louise's last post, something which I have tried with Year 7/8 students to overcome time constraints and students who have difficulty managing themselves, is mentoring. During last year in a 2 teacher / 56 Year 7/8 students space, we found a small group of boys in particular, from Yr 7 who struggled to stay focused when presented with several days worth of 'stuff' to do.

    Both teachers talked about it with these children and suggested the idea of a mentor for each of them, who would help them to get tasks done and to organise their time. 

    Our most successful pair was a Yr 7 boy, rugby head, not really into learning, but prepared to give it a go - who was paired with a Yr 8 girl - whom he chose from a list of possible mentors. She was not a top A grade student (whatever that is!), but was a really hard worker and a bit bossy! Without fail, she would take time each day to sit down with the boy and go through timetables, his feedback from teachers and students, and to help him review and reflect on his own learning. Teachers were seeing his work output either face to face or through Hapara Teacher Dashboard, as well as in almost daily maths and reading group sessions.

    The year ended with the boy buying his mentor a cute necklace and bracelet which he gave her quietly (after getting advice from the teachers about how to do it!), and on the last day in floods of tears because he was going to miss her so much in 2015. It was a fantastic way to get a child really well motivated and into learning.

    It's worth a try.






  • Vicki Hagenaars (View all users posts) 11 Apr 2015 5:38pm ()

    I also am out of the classroom but had been playing around with this concept while teaching at intermediate level after seeing it in action at Tawa Intermediate.  Like Tracey I had a list of must do activities for the week and shared this on the Ultranet each week.  Like Louise I shared the planning - including those delightful non- negotiable times we have in intermediates - and had students that I conferenced with regularly as they needed a more teacher driven organisation of their learning. 

    As often as the timetable allowed, these conferences were undertaken within the first hour of the day so that the students then had direction for their day with goals to be completed that they had chosen but knew I would check on. I would touch base with them again as needed later in the day. This freed me up to be facilitating in the classroom for the other students needing my time. If it was a week where my time was in high demand a booking my time list would begin to appear on the board - completely student driven.

    The way things were when I stepped away from teaching at that level were by no means perfect, and the fact we were not set up for collaborative docs made some of the learning community work quite paper driven in spite of my class having greater access to devices.  Work on devices was often kept in one person's folder and required me to access it if that person was away. This was a frustration to me more than the students as they did not know what they were missing where I did! Very clumsy compared to having GAFE or O365 up and running properly.

    I look forward to following this discussion further and love ideas that have now been shared. Good luck as you give this a go, Bronwyn. 



  • Jodie Brown (View all users posts) 11 Apr 2015 1:34pm ()

    I too am continuing to develop my own thinking and knowledge about this area. I am from a smaller school of only 5 classrooms- so one at each year level- which certainly limits some of the MLE pedagogy. 
    I have a year 3/4 class and believe in having the visibility of planning and allowing children to plan some aspects themselves.

    So, in T4 last year I trialled flexible timetabling within reading time, and have continued with it this year - allowing the chn to timetable their own rotations. As a class I got them to talk about good readers, and what they need to practice to be better readers (plays, reading with a buddy, spelling practice, etc). Then I created a timetable that each child fills in on a Monday morning. The chn go about completing their timetable- using my timetable that tells them when they're working with me (the blank spaces are for 1-1 reading that again, the children timetable in on a rotational basis). On their timetable there is a list of must do-s, and then some can- dos. Some chn do need more scaffolding to ensure they are on-task, so for those chn I set them at least 1 of their rotations each day, and they choose the rest. 
    The children really love it and it has been great to hear feedback from the children that I had in T4 last year that have moved on to their next teacher, who has now taken this approach on board due to their motivation.
    My class so far this year have picked it up well- although I continue to tweek it! Long term- I would like to use this same approach within maths and writing times. But- due to the age, I'm getting one bit sorted at a time!
    Hopefully that helps... 

    Teacher Weekly Reading Timetable Childrens blank reading rotation timetable

  • Charlotte Cottrell (View all users posts) 17 Jan 2017 11:54am ()

    I am going into my 3rd year teaching collaboratively and 2nd year in a full ILE.  I teach approximately 120 children with three other teachers at the Year 3/4 level.

    I would love to be able to use a flexible timetable.  I know this would take considerable organisation and support with 120 students.  I am wondering if anyone has run something similar with more than just a single class at the year 3/4 level?

  • Ngaire Shepherd-Wills (View all users posts) 18 Jan 2017 5:00pm ()

    Hi Charlotte,

    I was just wondering how you are wanting to run your flexible timetable? Are you wanting learners to opt into teaching workshops and organise the rest of their day themselves? Do you want this to be digital? Might have some ideas for you, but just wanted to know more.

    Ngaire :)

  • Bronwyn Gibbs (View all users posts) 11 Apr 2015 9:38am ()

    Thanks for your reply Louise, and really useful ideas. I use google calendar for all my planning but haven't been sharing my planning with the class, I think that's a great idea. Like you say it is a voyage of discovery, sometimes I just want to be nearer the end than the beginning, but must remind myself to enjoy the journey! 


  • Louise Tredinnick (View all users posts) 10 Apr 2015 9:18pm ()

    Hi Bronwyn 

    Just to add something I forgot to mention - I also shared all my planning via the google site with embedded Docs with the students so that they could decide for themselves what they needed help with and what they would like to do independently.  All lessons were quite detailed and all resources hyperlinked with any student templates already pushed out via Hapara.  



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