How and why we let our students create their own timetables

Student agency plays a huge part in how my two colleagues and I run our MLE. I have previously written about how we use student licenses to encourage self-management. In addition to this, we have also 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 have embed the calendar.

Google Calander pic

On a Monday for example, the students know that they cannot choose the same things twice, so we essentially have three 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 chose 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 spreasheet that the form creates) what they students are doing at anytime throughout the week.

Final thoughts:

We have just begun to use this system, and while it took a little bit of teaching initially, hopefully it will become automatic for the students on Monday mornings. For our first week, I would say it has been a success so far. We have created this system specifically for our environment  – where we are in a MLE and we are 1-1 (on Chromebooks). 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, and instructions for each of the possible options are on our class blog. All of this is working towards one of our main goals of enhancing the ability of our students to self-manage.


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