Tag Archives: specialist

Timetable Challenge: Part 3

In earlier posts, I wrote about the challenges our school was facing as we continue to grow in size and deal with the issue of timetables and our response to this by moving towards a 7 day timetable.

One of the issues I encounted was around the use of calendars (specifically Microsoft Outlook and the Ultranet) to schedule events and create my work program:

 I am struggling at the moment to find an efficient and effective way of managing this 7 day cycle. I use Microsoft Outlook to manage my calendar\work program and set each of my classes to repeat weekly. Under this new 7 day cycle, I am unable to create a re-occuring appointment that occurs 7 days apart, as weekends are included in the cycle. Given it takes 3 weeks for the cycle to return back to Day 1 being on a Monday, I had thought I could create a reoccuring appointment to reoccur every 3 weeks, however with days taken our for public holidays and other events, this confuses the cycle and makes it difficult. Other than entering each class I teach individually for the term, I’m struggling to find a way to do this.

I am pleased to report that I have found a solution to this problem (thanks to a Google Search and these instructions) by using Microsoft Excel to create a list of my events and then import these into Outlook. Who knew you could import events from Excel into Outlook!

I’ll attempt to explain the process:

I started by creating a spreadsheet in Excel that used the Outlook fields as the headings for each of my columns.

I created a sepearte worksheet for each of the times I teach (9am, 10am, 11:30am, 12:30pm, 2:15pm)

I entered all of the classes that I taught at that time over the 7 day cycle (eg: Day 1 at 9am, Day 2 at 9am, Day 3 at 9am etc..) with the class being in the subject column and the room being in location.

Not wanting to enter each date individually, a google search found a formula that produced what I needed.

=IF(WEEKDAY(C2)=6,C2+3,C2+1)

In an attempt to explain what the above means, the formula looks at the day in C2 (in this case Monday). Using the WEEKDAY function, Excel can count each of the days of the week (1=Sunday, 2=Monday, 3=Tuesday etc…). When it arrives at a Friday (the 6th Day using the WEEKDAY formula) it is set to add 3 days to the next date that appears. For all other days,  it simply adds 1 day; thus removing weekends from my list of days.

Once I had entered the first 7 classes of the timetable cycle, I used the fill down function to obtain the rest of my classes for the term. To set the event in my calendar to appear as busy, I entered “2” in the Showtimeas column.

I repeated this process for the classes I had at the other times throughout the day.

I then collated all these classes onto 1 worksheet of a seperate spreadsheet.

The next step was to select which area of the spreadsheet I wanted imported into Outlook. This involved highlighting all of the cells that contained data (including the column headings) and naming this range. The easiest way to do this was to enter it into the box next to the left of the formula bar.

From here, I saved the file (I had to save it using the 97-2003 version of Excel to import it), closed Microsoft Excel and opened Microsoft Outlook

From the File menu, I selected Open and Import.

I selected Import from another program or file and selected Microsoft Excel

Using Browse I selected my file and made sure I set the options to Allow duplicates to be created.

I selected my calendar as the destination

It then informed me that my DATA range would be imported.

This has now meant that all of my classes now appear on the correct days of my calendar !

It has also saved me the pain and trouble of entering each class individually. As I have my outlook calendar linked to my iPad and my iPhone, this has also been very handy as I move from room to room this year for my lessons.

Now… If I could just work out a way to import events into the calendars in Ultranet Spaces…… 🙂

Timetable Challenge: Part 2

The post below is an update to an earlier post I wrote about some of the challenges my school is facing in developing our timetable.

 

After heading in school this week to prepare for the year ahead, one of our assistant principals presented the timetable she had developed over the school holdays.

This year, our school will be moving from a traditional Monday-Friday, 5 day a week timetable to a 7 day timetable.

Image created by author

 

Under our old model, our timetable would run from Monday to Friday and then repeat again the following Monday. With our new 7 day timetable, the cycle would start on Monday (Day 1) and run through to the following Tuesday (Day 7). The cycle would then repeat itself; Wednesday would then be Day 1, Thursday would be Day 2 etc…

In the event of a public holiday, PD Day etc…. we can remove this day from the count and continue with the count the following day.

Image created by author

STRENGTHS OF THIS APPROACH:

Running with a 7 day timetable ensures that all of our classes will have access to the full compliment of specialist subjects (Art, PE, LOTE, ICT, Performing Arts and Environmental Science) being offered at our school. (Originally, we thought that some of these would need to rotate on a semester basis).

From a specialist teaching point of view, it also means that you won’t have the same class each week on a Friday afternoon or a Monday morning, meaning energy levels will vary throughout the term.

By removing days such as public holidays and other school events from the cycle, it means that certain grades won’t miss out on their classes and teachers won’t miss out on their planning time.

It has also allowed for teaching teams to receive APT together to allow for collegiate planning; something essential as we move towards a collaborative, co-teaching approach.

Personally, I am excited as I will be working inside the classrooms this year with class teachers as part of their co-teaching team to deliver ICT instead of being an isolated subject. I can see great potential working in with the classroom teacher, but at the same time, this new approach has left me thinking a great deal about what it might look like and how it will operate. I’m keen to setup blogs for each of the co-teaching teams within the school and use my lessons with the classes a chance to model this to both the teachers and students and develop something that they can then continue independently. Our school is also hoping to develop global links with other schools and I can see the blogs being a great vehicle for this to occur.

POTENTIAL CHALLENGES:

As someone who works digitally, I am struggling at the moment to find an efficient and effective way of managing this 7 day cycle. I use Microsoft Outlook to manage my calendar\work program and set each of my classes to repeat weekly. Under this new 7 day cycle, I am unable to create a re-occuring appointment that occurs 7 days apart, as weekends are included in the cycle. Given it takes 3 weeks for the cycle to return back to Day 1 being on a Monday, I had thought I could create a reoccuring appointment to reoccur every 3 weeks, however with days taken our for public holidays and other events, this confuses the cycle and makes it difficult. Other than entering each class I teach individually for the term, I’m struggling to find a way to do this.

I was also hoping to be able to post what day of the cycle it would be to the calendar we have setup in our Staff Community Space on the Ultranet. Again, without the ability to exclude weekends in the re-occuring appointment cycle, I would still need to enter each day of the cycle individually. I am wondering if there is a widget or something I could add in using an iFrame, so I’m on the search to find something to help me out with this.

Another concern is how this will impact on our Yard Duty Timetable, which has remained in the Monday-Friday format. If class teachers are running clubs or meetings at lunchtimes, most of them will run these on days they have APT to avoid a full day without any breaks. Occasionally, this could mean that Yard Duty would clash with their lunchtime activity. I think this is an area that requires further thought.

I remain excited however by the idea of moving to this new timetable system. I think it is an innovative way of addressing some of the issues we were concerned about last year as our school continues to grow rapidly in size.

 

Does your school operate on a similar timetable cycle ?

What have you found to be the strengths and\or weaknesses of this system ?

Have you found an effective and efficient way of managing your schedule\work program\calendars ?

 

 

Timetable Challenge

I had this down as a post to flesh our further over the holidays, but a tweet from Helen Otway sparked a conversation between Richard Lambert, Linda Amos and David Simpson around school timetables so I pulled it forward.

Created by Smabs Sputzer - Used under a Creative Commons 2.0 Licence

Created by Smabs Sputzer - Used under a Creative Commons 2.0 Licence

This year, the school I teach at is moving towards an open-plan,co-teaching environment.

Whilst we still have “classes” (eg: 3A) for administrative purposes like roll marking, students will not referred to by their “class” but by their year level. This means that the students will have a number of teachers who oversee their learning. Teachers will not be allocated classrooms, but rather teams will be allocated learning spaces which they can use for their teaching and learning activities.

This new approach to teaching combined with our exponential growth (We opened with over 450 students are expecting to be around 650 by the end of next year) means that we are investigating our timetable and daily organisation and how we can best support this model of teaching and learning.

Last year, we operated a very traditional style weekly timetable. Our daily structure looked like:

  • 2 x 1 hour teaching blocks (includes 10 minutes eating prior to recess)
  • Recess of 30 minutes
  • 2 x 1 hour teaching blocks (includes 15 minutes eating prior to lunch)
  • Lunch of 45 minutes
  • 1 x 1 hour teaching block

Our Specialist Program consisted of Visual Arts, Physical Education, ICT and LOTE (AUSLAN – Australian Sign Language).  These sessions went for 1 hour a week, with the exception of Prep PE and ICT classes which were timetabled as 2 x 30 minute sessions. LOTE was also timetabled for all classes as 2 x 30 minute lessons.

Visual Arts, Physical Education and LOTE were all taught by specialist teachers which provided the classroom teacher with their APT (Allocated Preparation Time). Classroom teachers sat in on the LOTE sessions.

Our specialist classes were usually timetabled at the same time as other classes in that year level. (Eg: 3A would have PE, 3B would have ART, 3C would have ICT). This would allow for the teachers in that year level to meet and plan together.

We had a total of 21 classes which allowed for each specialist to see their classes plus receive their own APT and attend our assembly each week (1 hour)

This year, our total number of classes will increase and school leadership have added Environmental Science and Performing Arts to the specialist program.

Ideally, the specialist program should be integrated into the classroom program; not seen as a tacked on program.

The challenge we are facing is how can we deliver a specialist program that enables all classes to recieve equal access, without compromising the quality of the specialists or classroom teaching program and allow all teachers to still receive their allocated APT, ideally together to support our co-teaching approach????


So, how does it work at your school ?


What specialist programs do you offer ?


How is your timetable structured ?


What do you find are the strengths and\or weaknesses of working this way ?