Creative School Scheduling

How might we reschedule the school day to give us time to establish a culture of innovation in our schools?

Photo of Melissa Lim
9 5

Written by

There are a lot of places already trying to reschedule the school day to allow for larger chunks of uninterrupted learning time that allows for more project-based learning and design thinking principles. I found these resources to be particularly helpful:

  1. Designing Creative Schedules in Times of Diminishing Resources / Guilderland Central School District
  2. The Power of Innovative Scheduling / ASCD
  3. Scheduling Ideas / Debbie Waggoner
  4. We Need More Time / Rebecca DuFour

I like the idea of creating a teacher template/lesson plan that includes a checklist similar to one that others have already contributed that keeps the Three Capabilities of Innovation Framework in mind. I love the idea of shifting pedagogy to ask, "What problems do we want to solve?" as a way to guide instruction for the year and then during each project/problem, allowing specific time for creative abrasion, creative agility and creative resolution.

I also like the idea of having innovation groups for both students and teachers. I would like that expanded to include families where a learning community is established that occurs both in and outside of school and includes topics of interest.

Looking through the final 50 ideas, there are two that I think could also be integrated into this idea. The first is from Britta Wilk-McKenna and asks What if students prescribed their own learning one day or one hour per week? I love the idea of inviting parents and community members to be resources, or even more, partners in learning with staff and students. I can see this being successful using an edcamp-style format.

Margaret Powers also had an intriguing idea with Connecting the Dots - Creating a Scalable Hub Model. Innovation hubs would be an excellent source of sharing and connecting across the globe and could provide one centralized physical space where collaboration can occur regularly. 

David Harrington also contributed some great ideas to optimize given class time.

  • Default to simple. Technology is not always the right tool. Sometimes sticky notes are better.
  • Leverage tools built on collaboration (shameless plug to Google Apps)
  • Flipped Projects. Many schools have already leverage flipped classrooms. However, with tools like Skype and Hangouts, 
    kids can do some of the projects at home too (and still participate in a group).

I added some sample schedules that allow for more blocks of learning time. These samples are from School Scheduling Associates and Guilderland Central School District.

Evaluation results

1 evaluation so far

1. Potential for Impact: Imagine this solution had near perfect implementation. To what extent would this solution bring about a culture of innovation within a school or classroom?

A lot! This solution would greatly bring about a culture of innovation in schools or classrooms. - 0%

Somewhat. This solution would somewhat bring about a culture of innovation in schools or classrooms. - 0%

Not much. This solution might help with other things, but I don't see it really bringing about a culture of innovation within schools or classrooms. - 100%

2. Feasibility and Fit: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: If this solution were available to me right now, I would be able to use it with relatively low investment. (i.e. money, time, or skills).

Strongly agree (this solution strongly aligns to my/my school's current capacities). - 0%

Agree. - 0%

Neutral. - 0%

Disagree. - 100%

Strongly disagree (this solution would take a big lift in resources to pull off). - 0%

3. Adaptability: I could imagine this solution working well in a variety of school and classroom contexts across a diverse set of needs.

Absolutely! I could see this working for a variety of schools and classrooms with different or unique needs. - 0%

Somewhat. I could see this working for many schools and classrooms, but it might need some adjusting to fit a broad diversity of contexts. - 100%

Not a lot. This seems like it might be better suited to only a few contexts. - 0%

4. Scalability: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: This idea could be adopted by an ever-growing number of teachers or students without requiring significant changes.

Strongly agree (this solution could easily scale without any significant changes). - 0%

Agree. - 0%

Neutral. - 0%

Disagree. - 100%

Strongly disagree (this solution would require significant changes in order to properly scale). - 0%

5. Desirability: Do you wish this solution were available to you right now?

1 - Not a lot. There's not a big need for this right now and/or we use something already that fulfills a similar purpose in my school or classroom. - 0%

2 - 100%

3 - 0%

4 - 0%

5 - A lot! There's nothing like this already and I'd love to have it in my school or classroom. - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of David Harrington

Can you provide an example of maybe a week's schedule of how you would adjust or refine scheduling to make it more susceptible to project-based scheduling. Feel free to use examples from your "real world" or create something completely fictitious. The goal is to take this idea to the next level and create a prototype. To take it one step further, if you are using google apps, just create a new "blank" calendar inside of Google Calendar and then start populating it. You can take a screen capture and post it. Try to use a few different approaches: Larger chunks of time, time when the mind is more creative (not between 3-4pm), starting the session with some energetic and subject appropriate music, etc. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

Photo of David Harrington

Most of the comments and supplementary resources you provided in your post focused on enlarging the chunks of time within the class. This would logically result in more "creative" time and less stop/start time. I am wondering if, in addition to that concept, there is a way to optimize the time given. Ideas would include:
Default to simple. Technology is not always the right tool. Sometimes sticky notes are better.
Leverage tools built on collaboration (shameless plug to Google Apps)
Flipped Projects. Many schools have already leverage flipped classrooms. However, with tools like Skype and Hangouts, kids can do some of the projects at home too (and still participate in a group).

Photo of Melissa Lim

Great ideas, David! I will add those.

Photo of Charles Shryock, IV

I like your idea of involving families, which will hopefully build support for shifting pedagogy, and maybe even inspire a few parents and younger siblings.

Photo of Melissa Lim

That's the hope! I want to delineate the line between learning in school and learning at home.

Photo of Garth Nichols

Hi Melissa,
I just gave you a shout-out in my own post. I think that your idea of 'uniterupted learning time' is an essential element to allowing innovation to occur. This type of thinking needs the time and space to evolve.

Check out my submission:


Photo of Niranjan Vasireddy

School Scheduling is one of the fundamental thing that needs to be revisited. I just posted an article on scheduling with a link to Dr. David Halfand's Ted talk, which has many interesting things to look into. Do check it out -

Photo of Melissa Lim

Thanks, Niranjan! Hadn't seen that TEDTalk yet.

Photo of Emma Scripps

Melissa -

Looks like you created this draft but haven't published yet. Wanted to make sure you knew that - just cause it can be a little tricky to remember to put publish after drafting.