How and why we let our students create their own timetables

Student agency should be a major focus in a future-focused classroom. With this thought firmly behind our planning, we (myself and the two teachers in our collaborative teaching space) created a system that allows students to create their own timetables each week. We believe that by allowing students to do this, we are not only encouraging self-management, we are also allowing the students to do subjects when they feel they will be able to perform best for that subject. Furthermore, we have also noticed that when students choose what they are doing, rather than being told, they are more likely to put the effort in to complete their work to a high standard.

Below I will describe how our system works:

We use Google calendar to create a timetable of all of the possible options for the week. We have created a page on our class blog where we embed the calendar (as shown in the picture above).

On a Monday for example, the students know that they cannot choose the same things twice, so we essentially have three blocks of lessons set up, and the individual students choose when they do each one throughout the day. We only have our Year 10 class on Monday, Thursday and Friday, so on Monday mornings they will choose their individual timetable for the week. To do this, the students need to click on the option they would like, and then choose the option ‘copy to my calendar’.  They then push save, and that particular option will show up on their own Google calander.

The students can then choose to view their own Google calendar. The picture below shows an example of one of my students timetables after they have chosen from my calander above.

student timetable

Once the students have created their timetable for the week, they can then refer back to it on their Google Calander. So my two collegues and I can also see what they students have chosen and when, we also ask for the students to fill out a Google Form after they have created their timetable.

Google form pic 1

The questions have the options (and help text for specific instructions) for each block throughout the week. This makes it easy for us, as teachers, to view (via the spreadsheet that the Google Form creates) what the students are doing at any time throughout the week.

For a system like this to work, it is vital to have an environment that encourages self-directed learning. We have all of our resources on our class website (created using Google Sites), and instructions for each of the possible options are in our Google Classroom. We are also 1-1 with Chromebooks, and our system allows our students to work at their own pace, anywhere and anytime. As teachers, we see ourselves very much as facilitator’s of learning and therefore we utilise the technology to allow our students to have as much choice and control over their learning as possible.