Clock Appointments

Appointment Clock Buddies, Discussion Appointments

UDL 3.2

Clock Appointments is a communication strategy in which students make “appointments” in order to conduct multiple, short discussions to deepen understanding. Using the simulation of scheduling appointments with peers (e.g., 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, 9:00 time slots) students create ready-made sets of partners. These appointments do not reflect the actual time of day the students will meet, rather they serve as a signal for which partner to meet with at certain points during the activity. After scheduling appointments, the teacher presents a question (e.g., “What’s the author’s purpose in this book? How do you know?). Students are then cued to meet (e.g., “Meet with your 12 o'clock appointment to discuss!”). Partners meet until another cue occurs with a new question for students to deliberate. Students continuing rotating until all appointments have been met. Clock Appointments differ from other partner strategies in that it incorporates movement in a specific, well-controlled manner, and it improves students’ cognitive engagement.

Implementation Tips

Pre-plan the total of number of appointments and for how long students will meet for each (e.g., 2-4 minutes). At any grade level, it is recommended that teachers begin with no more than 4 appointments; however, as students become more comfortable, teachers can decrease the discussion time and increase the number of appointments.
Scheduling Sheets
Prepare a system for students to use when organizing and keeping track of their Clock Appointment partners. Students can list the times on a index card, adding names next to each as they make appointments. Or, print [[ | this version for lower grades ]] and [[ | this version for upper grades ]].
Determining Discussion Points
Determine the focus for discussions before implementation. Decide if appointments will be used to analyze complex texts, review content (e.g., math concepts), build reflection (e.g., community building), or as a means to help students brainstorm ideas before a variety of writing tasks.
Model how to use a scheduling sheet to set expectations and guidelines for student replication (e.g., both students record the appointment). Explain the time allotted to conduct each appointment (e.g., 2-4 minutes) and demonstrate transition cues to help familiarize students (e.g., “Your 3 o’clock appointment has arrived!”).
Supporting Student Interactions
Support students before they begin to schedule appointments by providing conversation prompts to use when asking peers about their availability (e.g., “Would you be free at __?” / “What time is most convenient for you?”) to create an atmosphere of respect.
Circulating Discussions
Circulate through student discussions during each Clock Appointment as a way to assess partnership interactions. Assist individual students or partnerships remain on-task by “whispering-in” and take notice of strong discussion points raised by highly-engaged partnerships.
Modify how students engage with Clock Appointments overtime to maintain student engagement. Challenge students’ organizational skills by requiring more appointments at a time, with less time allotted for each conversation). Check out these scheduling sheets for [[ | 6 partners ]] and [[ | 12 partners ]].
Building Routines
Build routines and save time by using these partnerships as a reference for other collaborative activities (e.g., “To debrief today’s math inquiry lesson, pair up with your 6 o’clock appointment partner.”). Students should save their scheduling sheets in a safe place (e.g., desk, cubby, folder).
Group Share
Conduct a group share after implementing Clock Appointments to give students the opportunity to reflect on the benefits and challenges of using the strategy. Students can use student shares to adjust the protocol for future implementation (e.g., adjust time frames for transitions or partnered work).


Unit Review
While reviewing a math unit, students use Clock Appointments to prepare partnerships for solving multi-step story problems. The teacher distributes scheduling sheets and allows 3 minutes for students to roam and set appointments. Students record each other’s names after confirming timeslots (e.g., “Are you available at 9:00?”). Next, students are directed to sit with their 12 o’clock appointment partner. For each appointment round, the teacher distributes a new story problem that partnerships solve together. The teacher signals each transition using cues (e.g., “Your 3 o’clock appointment has arrived!”). To motivate students, the teacher supplies highlighters to strikethrough completed appointments.
Book Discussion
After finishing an extended read aloud (e.g., a complex chapter book), a teacher uses Clock Appointments to organize multiple discussions. In order to have students analyze the text in a variety of ways, the teacher changes the focus of each appointment round (e.g., 12:00-Author’s Purpose, 3:00-The Use of Figurative Language, 6:00-Biases in the Text, 9:00-Reactions to the Text). During each appointment, students work together to share and record insightful ideas. The teacher circulates during conversations to “whisper-in” when necessary and keep conversations flowing. After all appointments are completed, the group conducts a whole class share to reflect on the experience.

Related Strategies