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Making Appointments- a collaboration strategy

Autonomy and collaboration are two buzz words you hear often right now in the realms of education chatter. And for those days when collaboration means within our own classroom, it seems like this is the day autonomy needs to be focused on the most. I can take the same two students and match them up to work as partners, who would have normally joined up anyway- but there is something about the teacher doing the matching that often times sets things on a bad foot right away. I noticed this when school first started. I would watch the groups and partners gather in clusters when I simply said for them to partner up- versus watching their reactions when I actually called them out, putting them in very similar groupings. There is something to be said for students feeling like they have a say in who they work with. I guess we are no different as adults.

I saw a strategy at a workshop last year called "Making Appointments" that I envisioned as a complete train wreck, but one day last year, I threw caution to the wind, and we tried; and I have been using this strategy since then.

  • Students quickly draw a picture of a clock with the 12, 3, 6, and 9 hours only. 
  • Once you give the go-ahead for the class to make their appointments, they will meander around the classroom asking their classmates if they
    are available for a 12 O'clock appointment, a 6 O'clock appointment, and so on. 
  • Once two students decide they are both free for a certain time slot, they each write down the student's name they'll be meeting with at that time on their appointment clock. 
  • Once a student is booked (no more appointment times available), he/she is seated with their appointment clock face down on the desk which signals to other students he/she is booked and no longer taking any more appointments.
While this process may seem lengthy and complicated, it really isn't and after you explain it to the students and give them the opportunity to practice "scheduling appointments" once, you are pretty much set for the remainder of the year. I usually set my timer for 2-3 minutes and that is literally how quickly we get the process done.

The awesome thing about making appointments, is that you can then tell students to partner up with their (pick one) 3 o'clock appointments and then later change it up by meeting with a different time...

The element of having someone left out or getting their feelings hurt isn't there, and the students still feel like they have some choice in the matter. It also gives you the ability to change partners around tactically if you see that one appointment time gives a mix that could cause some disruption/distraction due to student partners.

All in all I think it is a win-win for everyone. Students get to work with someone they have chosen, it tends to cause a variety of student partners with more of a mix of students who wouldn't necessarily work with one another otherwise, and is quick and easy once you practice a couple of times. 


  1. Love it Summer. Gives the teacher choices as well as the students!

  2. Thanks, Peggy! I woke up in the middle of the night and posted without illustrations and a TON of typos. LOL Oh well. Corrected now. Thanks for reading and the feedback. :)


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