Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Impossible Logic Puzzle

The beginning of the school year tends to be the least favorite time of any school speech-language pathologist. Although there is a lot of excitement about being back and seeing all the students again, it also means you have to arrange your schedule. Seems simple enough, I know...but really it is not. All students have an IEP determining the number of minutes that I have to schedule them for. This number could range from 30 to 120 minutes per week. This year, thus far, I have 47 students to see. Again, still, not too difficult, right? The following is a list of "cans" and "cannots" when doing the schedule...
  • A student cannot miss lunch, recess, or special class
  • Third and forth grade students cannot miss communication arts or math instruction time.
  • Fifth grade students cannot miss communication arts, math, or science instruction time.
  • No student may be seen individually
  • All student groups must contain students within one grade-level from each other. (example: A 3rd grader and a 5th grader cannot be in the same group)
  • If the student has other resource minutes with another special education teacher, times must not conflict.
  • Students with only 60 minutes should not be seen two consecutive days.
  • Tuesdays, no students can be scheduled--it is considered a testing and paperwork day only
  • Language students should be seen with other language students, speech should be seen with other speech students.
So, to me, it seems to be quite the puzzle, but the crazy thing is I am just nutty enough to love the monumental task. Being a very visual person I created a monster schedule. With 4 columns for the days of the week and rows for each time slot. Each section on the graph was filled with Post-It Notes. Each Post-it Note represents a 30 minute block of a students IEP time. If their IEP states 60 minutes, they have 2 Post-it Notes with their name on it and the type of service they receive (speech or language). Each color of Post-it Note represented a grade level. with the color coded key off to the right of the monster schedule.

After spending hours on the task, it appears it is complete, with even a few spaces to spare for incoming students. Tomorrow is the big day that I get to implement the schedule for the first time. I am guessing that there may be a few bumps in the road, but hopefully...they will be small speed bumps, rather than big pot holes.

note: I had a picture to accompany this post, but unfortunately it had first and last names of students on it...of course a major NO NO!! Hopefully I can try to take a different picture or something tomorrow to protect my students' privacy. otherwise...just use your imagination.


lydia said...

WOW, that is quite a schedule! I'm like you, I think it would be a "fun" task to create such a schedule. I'm sure it wasn't fun at times, but it's like getting paid to do a giant puzzle!

strem said...

You should submit something like this to GAMES magazine. I love logic puzzles like this... but this seems like it would be super-difficult. Glad you found a solution with a little time to spare!