If you use my numbered box system for independent work (which you sahooooould – it’s amazing, learn more here) you can make this system even more perfect by creating a weekly schedule for tasks. The schedule is actually key in my mind to this system basically running on its own. If you take the time to create a schedule for who is doing which task which days, the prep work each day is so minimal.
First up, make a master list of all of the tasks. Sometimes we forget what we have and it’s hard to peek into each box all of the time to see what’s in there. Then color code your tasks by level. Group them into a few levels based on level of difficulty. This will be helpful to see if you don’t have enough tasks in one level. Maybe you have too many easy tasks and need more hard ones – the color coding will illustrate that! Grab the editable powerpoint version of this color coded schedule here: table time tasks & file folder guide.
This part takes a while. Make a weekly (or every two week schedule) of who is doing which tasks on which days. You want to make sure that nobody is doing the same task on the same day and that nobody is repeating the task twice in a week (unless they need extra practice on that task). I made a schedule to go every two weeks because we had enough tasks. Making this schedule is time consuming to make. I liked to group students of similar levels together in my head and then rotate sets of tasks through the group. So Johnny did task 13, 32, and 4 on Monday and then Sarah did task 13, 32, and 4 on Tuesday. Holly made this awesome spreadsheet for the whole week to assign tasks. She could look down the row and quickly see what tasks were unused that day.
Once you have this schedule made, make a template for each day. You can quickly match the letters/numbers on the right kid’s mini schedule. Or you can have students prep this schedule at the end of the day or in the morning (my favorite trick!). Grab the PDF of this schedule template here: Work Station Schedule. Store the schedules by the extra pieces and you are ready to roll. Adding this important component to your independent work system is the KEY to making it running smoothly all year. You have almost nothing to do now – it runs on its own!