I recently had an opportunity to visit a couple of elementary school in Charleston, SC. The schools were using iPads and we were there look at student use of the devices in the classroom.
I visited a fourth grade class at Goodwin Elementary School and the teacher (Mrs. Feit) happened to mention a student self directed schedule on Friday and I became very interested in that (as opposed to the iPads...although that was pretty cool to :) She let me take pictures of the forms she used (see above) and told me a little bit about how the process works.
On Thursday students fill out their forms of how they want to spend their time on Friday (academically). The teacher has some non-negotiable for that day (Word Master Test, math block, reading block). All the other blocks are for children to fill out. They can finish work they are behind in, practice skills they are rusty in, etc. The forms get turned into the teacher to approve on Thursday. The student has to note the activity/material they are going to do and the reason why they are using it.
Mrs. Feit is on a two man team (she teaches ELA and Social Studies I believe) so both teachers use this form for Friday implementation. They start it at the beginning of the year with more teacher directed items in the schedule gradually releasing it to more student directed items in the schedule. Children who have problems self directing their work continue to get more teacher directed items throughout the year.
I love this idea. It gives students an opportunity to feel in charge of their learning, gives them valuable skills regarding making a schedule and adhering to it, and allows them to analyze what they need to finish or work on. I wish I could visit this classroom on the implementation day (I was there on Thursday).
I told Mrs. Feit that I was going to post on my blog and she was very kind about answering my questions.
This is an older school that serves a lot of low income families. I definitely felt that if they were implementing this with success there it can be done anywhere. I wish I could have stayed and asked a lot more questions.