Mix and Match

Students as architects of their own learning schedule

Photo of Gel Hannan
4 4

Written by

What if ... 

  • ... schools allowed students to decide when and how they would complete the required number of hours for mandatory subjects? (In order for this to work, there might need to be within a school: an openness to vertical timetabling; a personalised student learning plan and lots of group work with collaborative learning activities, similar to what might be found at the School of One; and a clear foundation established very early on so that students would have the skills, maturity, initiative, foresight and creativity to manage their own learning). 
  • ... schools got rid of subjects and instead moved to teach ideas holistically (much like what Finland plans on doing), showing students that everything is interconnected?
  • ... students themselves were given the latitude to design Deep Learning Days with the only prerequisite being that it had to involve at least two subject areas (to encourage building connections between ideas in subjects)? 
  • ... students had more authority over the assessment tasks and schedule? They could design their own tasks; or assign how much weighting would go to each task at the start of the academic year.
  • ... what comprises a 'full teaching load' was redesigned? By reducing the number of classes that constitutes a full load, teachers would still be working full time but would have 'free' periods during which they could plan better lessons, collaborate with colleagues within the school, in academia and in industry; they could focus on giving more detailed and better quality feedback on students' work submitted - there are a million other ways they could use their time wisely to improve their pedagogy!
  • ... the end of every week was 'Freaky Friday' where students and teachers swap roles, in a sense? The students get to teach and the teachers get to learn. This role reversal would open so many doors, including allowing the teachers a chance to see what appeals to the students in their learning, giving the students a chance to see what it's like from a teacher's perspective, allowing students to dictate how they would like to learn content, etc.  


Join the conversation:

Photo of Ben Hommerding

Great ideas here everyone. I had posted about FedEx days where you have to deliver something overnight or in the case of Ed during the course of a staff dev day. Basically, teachers and students would work together on teams to come up with solutions to issues they are passionate about by a specified time and then everyone presents their ideas and it's kind of like a celebration. If the ideas seem good, then they are carried forward from there.
It's kind of cool!

Photo of Moss Pike

Love every one of these ideas, Gel; thanks for posting them! Any one of them could be transformed into a remarkable program or event for a school community, and I'm eager to pursue them. In particular, I'm interested in the "Deep Learning Days," since we could put together a fantastic prototype for the idea, I think (and it may combine many other ideas!). It reminds me of XPLANE's idea of the "xDay," which is similar to Google's 20% Time program (link below). In this case, it's a single day each month when the company takes time to turn their focus inward and work on innovation.

What if schools had their own similar "Deep Learning Days," as you've described? I love the prerequisite of working on at least two content areas, and if combined with the first bulleted idea to have an open schedule, we could easily build a rough sketch of what a DLD could look like. Considering idea 2, in which teachers teach more holistically, we could allow faculty to roam and help kids work on ideas, as needed. I'm also excited at the prospect for kids to assess themselves and design their own way of showing off their work.

How might this idea scale? Can we start within a single classroom, then move to an entire department and later the school itself? Lots to explore, and I'm really excited to see what can be made of the idea (along with any others you've shared!). Fantastic work!


Photo of Niranjan Vasireddy

Couldn't agree more with what you have written here. I am a firm believer in Skill based education over subject based. This used to be how school's were in the olden days I believe. Not any more. I have posted an article on the same - check out - https://goo.gl/xUxZvQ.
This is a work in progress. I think when we say children need to be independent - I think they usually are - However, I think we need to also inspire them with examples of what independent learning is about.
Eg: What makes Iron Man so cool
- His special Talents, knowledge - how does he train himself?
- His suit materials, gadgets, etc.
- His knowledge of current affairs
- How does he make his decisions?
- Some Silly impossible events shown in the movie - this is fun i.e. How much time does it take from him to go from Miami to Afghanistan? How much time did they show it in the movie? Is it even possible? - What is the fastest any man made flight could go? If one were to design rocket to go in such supersonic speed what are the G-forces that need to be endured by the pilot?

The questions are never ending. However they go deep into the rabbit hole and this enables learning.
So how can we create template that help this kind of thinking is what we should look into.
Can you take a first stab at this if possible?

Photo of Elsa Fridman Randolph

Hi Gel,

Love your contribution, so many great what ifs! It reminds me a lot of Britta Wilk McKenna's post, where she asks: "What would happen if we put students in charge of learning what they wanted to know and teachers would coach them along and point them in the right direction?" --> https://teachersguild.org/challenge/how-might-we-create-rituals-and-routines-that-establish-a-culture-of-innovation-in-our-classrooms-and-schools/ideas/what-if-students-prescribed-their-own-learning-one-day-or-one-hour-per-week and Heather Best's post who calls for more student choice in their own learning --> https://teachersguild.org/challenge/how-might-we-create-rituals-and-routines-that-establish-a-culture-of-innovation-in-our-classrooms-and-schools/ideas/allow-encourage-choice

You should reach out to Britta --> https://teachersguild.org/profiles/10204718369982736 and Heather --> https://teachersguild.org/profiles/103374676400692158715