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Messages - samantha.goddard

Okay, thanks for the clarification, Liviu. It seems like a strange constraint to me as I don't see why you would want to put a constraint that a room is unavailable only to that teacher. Surely, you just wouldn't put the teacher in that room if you don't want them there.

I would have thought that if you want a room to be unavailable, then you just use the room unavailable function (and so it's unavailable for everyone at those times).

But I can see the use in having a joint constraint to say that BOTH a teacher and a room are unavailable at certain times so that the teacher cannot be scheduled for anything else and the room can also not be scheduled for anything else at that time. This would save time.

For example, in my situation, as you know I've already created my schedule for G11 and G12 in FET Block planning mode. So I know that certain teachers and their rooms are unavailable at certain times. It helps a lot to therefore be able to block off both the room and the teacher for all other activities for their joint unavailable times.

Does that make sense?
I'm just wondering if this is a new or modified constraint that could be made? I had assumed that's what the room+teacher unavailable meant!

Thanks for your thoughts! All the best, Samantha

PS - I'll send you my file so you can what I mean.
Hi Liviu,

Thanks for your reply. I think I have misunderstood what this constraint is for. I assumed that it is used for blocking out both a room and a teacher as unavailable. But now that I'm checking my timetable again, I don't think it has worked like that.

So to block off both a room and a teacher at certain times, I need to either:
A) Block room unavailable.
B) Block teacher unavailable.

Make dummy activities for that teacher and assign a room to those activities.

Is that correct? Many thanks for clarifying, Samantha
Okay - thanks, Liviu. That's really helpful. I guess I was expecting it to show as X where they weren't available (since it does that for the constraint teacher not available).

That's great - now I know that works, I can definitely use it. Thank you! Samantha
Hi all,

I have scheduled our G11 and G12 classes using the Block Planning FET mode (A BIG THANK YOU to Liviu for all his help on this!). I'm now building our G6-G10 timetable in standard FET.

I would like to block off the G11 / G12 teachers and their rooms at the time they are teaching using 'Teacher +Room are not available' (as it will be quicker than creating dummy activities) but when I use this constraint, it doesn't show up at all in the room or teachers' timetables so I don't believe it's working for me.

Am I doing something wrong or have I misunderstood the function of this command? Or is it not working?

Many thanks! Samantha
Hi Liviu and Darren,

Thanks for your thoughts on this.

I would particularly find 1) useful because it anticipates changes to students' schedules. For example, we often have students who decide to change Math class in September; they begin in IB Math A&A 11/12and then change to Pre-Calculus 11 or 12. It's useful therefore to have these in the same block because then we can move them between classes without affecting the rest of their schedule. I think when there is 1 class of each, we can do that at the moment. However, when there are 2 IB Math A&A classes but just one Pre-Calculus class, it's difficult to make that happen (although, of course, if they are in the 'other' Math class, their schedule has to change anyway!)

Having said that, as Darren says, I probably wouldn't want to use that constraint at the risk of not being able to schedule students' actual course selections right now.

With 2) maybe this is sorted out anyway because if lots of students have chosen both subjects then they are unlikely to fall on the same block. However, I know that there are some subjects I really need to be in different blocks because there is only one section of each and lots of students need both/all courses to graduate well. I.e. we have a good group of students in Grade 12 who need Pre-Calculus 12 and Social Justice 12 and Creative Writing 12 and Anatomy and Physiology so I would want them to be in different blocks.

I see those two functions as enabling the block planning platform to work more like the regular platform of FET, where it's easier to specify that two particular classes happen at the same time or at different times. And, it mirrors more of the process I would go through if I were block scheduling manually (i.e. I would be imagining which courses needed to be in the same block or in different blocks).

It would be good to know what others think! Thanks to you both for this fab program, have a good evening, Samantha
Hi Darren,

Thanks so much for those tips - that's really helpful. I put together a couple of students as you suggested and it works well. Great tip - thanks! I've got 3 overflow blocks too.

I've got all my Grade 12s done (just 5 in overflow now with Provincial courses) and am onto Grade 11 now.

Thank you again because your tips from last year have helped lots too. I didn't dare use FET-BP last year because I hadn't used FET before but I'm finding it really great for block scheduling now. So much better than my manual timetabling of blocks last year!

Thanks and all the best, Samantha
Hi Liviu,

No need to apologise. I'm sorry for not making a donation before - to be honest, I was unaware of how much FET depended on donations and it hadn't occurred to me. Sorry - so thank you for raising this! I will make a personal donation and I had already been planning to ask my school to make a larger contribution, when I saw your requests last week on the forum. 

I'll come back to you about the activities at the same time: this is less of a priority than trying to make sure all the students get their options as far as possible. At the moment, I am trying to take as many activities as possible out of the overflow blocks (and struggling with this - maybe because our students have too many choices and we need some extra sections to make this possible).

I'll come back to you re the blocks taught together! Thank you, happy weekend, Samantha
Hello Liviu, Volker, Darren et al,

Thank you so much for the new version of FET with the different modes. I love it! I am starting to use FET BP to build our Grade 12 and Grade 11 timetables, since we run a block schedule. So far, I have all my Grade 12 activities in and it's running well.

I'm using the help instructions of: Set of activities preferred starting time / Set of activities occupies Max slots / Max simultaneous from set in selected slots and the Teacher Activity tag for scheduling my activities against students' selections.

I would like to try to make certain classes run in the same blocks since students sometimes shift between these classes once the year starts (i.e. between IB Math A&A SL and Pre-Calculus 12) or because it will help me schedule the Middle School timetable (i.e. all the Language Acquisition 12 teachers in the same block, if possible).

I've been experimenting with 'A set of activities has same starting time (different days)' as well as limiting the preferred starting time for the activities to certain blocks but it hasn't really helped me so far.

Do you have any recommendations please for the best way to do this? Thank you so much! Samantha
Tips and Tricks / Re: Viewing timetables
August 12, 2020, 12:22:09 AM
Thanks Volker and Liviu for your feedback. Sorry not to reply before - I was saturated and had to take a break from timetabling. I have forwarded my final file to Liviu now so maybe when you see my file, you will have some suggestions for how I can make my viewing of the schedules easier.

Maybe I should hide the subgroups on the html files but I find the colour coding on the FET viewing easier for checking.

Thanks to you both!
Get Help / Re: Help with categories and groups
August 10, 2020, 08:40:33 PM
Thanks Liviu! And thank you again for all your help - I couldn't have done it without your assistance!

I'm hopeful that next year I can also use the customised FET BP version to do our Senior School block schedule. All the best, Samantha
Get Help / Re: Help with categories and groups
August 10, 2020, 08:27:22 PM
Hi Liviu,

Sorry if I wasn't clear in my terminology. I had years G6, G7 and G8. And I automatically divided the year by categories and then used the subgroups. I.e. for the core classes (Language & Literature, Social Sciences, Science etc), I just used the subgroup G7/7.1, G7/7.2. But for electives (Math, Language Acquisition), I had to use the smaller subgroups to allocate the students to the classes.

Does that make sense?

When I get a chance, I will edit my file (make teacher names generic) so I can share it for everyone and perhaps it can serve as a useful example.

Thanks, Samantha
Get Help / Re: Help with categories and groups
August 10, 2020, 07:42:12 PM
Hello! I'm posting this after the fact to help other users who might be struggling with subgroups, categories etc. Thanks so much to Liviu, who was invaluable in guiding me through using FET. It is a really useful software and works really well once you get the hang of it! Also, a reminder to just load one activity at a time and keep generating the timetable so you can see if it is working at every step (this was my mistake at the start - I tried to upload all the activities at once).

I finally figured this out - the subgroups element is a key part of using FET successfully and it isn't immediately obvious! I'll explain how my Middle School schedule worked and I hope that can help you. In G6-G8, our students are in homeform groups for all their subjects except Math, Language Acquisition and Arts. In G6, they are in the same homeform groups for every subject. So I set up my groups G6, G7 and G8. Then, within G7 I created the following divisions: Div 1 = Homeform 1, 2, 3 (etc) Div 2 = Math, Adv Math. Div 3 = Art1, Art2, Div 4 = French, Ext French, Spanish, Mandarin. This is then automatically copied into G8 (but not G6).

You need to experiment to see whether you might be able to timetable all elective classes at the same time or whether they will need to go back to back with another subject. This all depends on the numbers of hours each elective will have. For example, in G8, I managed to timetable all Math classes at the same time so I allocated each subject just according to homeform groups. Eg: Math class 1 = Subgroup 8.1/Math. Math class 2 = Subgroup 8.2/Math. Extended Math class = Subgroup 8.1/Ext Math, 8.2/Ext Math, 8.3 Ext Math. I realise now that this is because all the Arts classes could be at the same time and also the Language Acquisition classes at the same time. But in G7, this wasn't the case (because of number of Arts classes and teacher allocation).

However, in G7, by experimenting, I realised that I had to back Math with Arts. So I looked at the numbers in each homeform who had chosen Art1 or Art 2 and then I had to schedule one Math class to have all who had selected Art1 and the other all who had selected Art 2. E.g. Math G7.1 = 7.1/Math/Art1, 7.2/Math/Art1, 7.3/Math/Art1. Math class G7.2 = 7.1/Math/Art2, 7.2/Math/Art2, 7.3/Math/Art2. Extended Math class = 7.1/ExtendedMath, 7.2/ExtendedMath, 7.3/ExtendedMath. I then revised it in a slightly more complicated way, so for example, students in 7.2 who had Math and Art2 would be in G7.1 Math to help with numbers - but I hope you can see how the subgroups helps you fine-tune numbers of students in a class.

I had to do the same with language acquisition (all our students do French/Ext French and either Spanish/Mandarin) - i.e. work out how to have two 'blocks' of languages so that during one block everyone who had chosen Mandarin (subgroup 7.1/Mandarin, 7.2/Mandarin etc), French (7.1/French/Spanish, 7.2/French/Spanish), Spanish (7.1/Ext French/Spanish, 7.2/Ext French/Spanish) in one block. In the other block Extended French, Spanish (7.1/French/Spanish, 7.2/French/Spanish) and French (7.1/French/Mandarin, 7.2/French/Mandarin).

So you have to do some thinking and experimenting with how to divide up your students using subgroups so that they can't be scheduled in different classes at the same time (if you pay close attention to ensuring the correct students are in each class, and you're not trying to put one subgroup in two different activities at the same time, you'll be good!). Instead of putting students in classes one by one, you are basically dividing up students into small subgroups so that then you can schedule their classes for their electives.

I hope this might help other timetablers out there! Thanks Liviu and Volker for a great piece of software! :-)
Tips and Tricks / Viewing timetables
July 20, 2020, 07:38:04 AM

When viewing the group timetables in the 'View timetables / View student timetables / day horizontal' tab, is it possible to hide the long list of subgroups that appear in each time slot so that the timetable is easier to view?

I am spending a lot of time adjusting the size of the boxes to be able to check for distribution of activities.

Many thanks for your advice! Samantha
Get Help / Re: Help with categories and groups
June 28, 2020, 08:28:27 PM
Hi Liviu,

Thanks for your help. I've done as you said but it still comes up with this error (attached) and says it can't process my data. I have no subgroups for Grade 6. For grade 7 and 8, I have five subgroups (Homeform, Math1/MathExt, French/French Enh, Spanish/Mandarin, Art/Band/Drama.

It says it requires too many hours. Do I need to tell it to link together activities (as a constraint) to make it work?

Or should I just have two categories: one with just the homeform groups and then the options in the other (Math/Mathext, French/French Enhanced, Spanish/Mandarin, Art/Band/Drama)?

Thanks! Samantha
Get Help / Help with categories and groups
June 28, 2020, 08:45:04 AM

I am new to using FET and I am struggling to set up categories, groups etc. In our Middle School, we have just grades 6-8. In each grade, there are just 3 or 4 homeform groups. In Grade 6, students do all their subjects in their homeform group so I don't need categories here.

But in Grade 7 and 8, students do most subjects in their homeform groups but then may be in a different group for Math, French, Spanish/Mandarin and Arts. They don't have to study these at the same time (in fact, sometimes they can't because the same teacher teaches both classes).

I have tried setting up categories for these choices but then I run into an error message when I try to generate the timetable (see attached). And I have tried setting up various groups (e.g. 7Math1, 7Math2 etc) but that hasn't worked either.

I don't need those categories for Grade 6 but it seems to automatically force me to have them.

Can you please help me with this? I've read the manual and watched the videos but I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. Many thanks, Samantha