A big idea in education is to give the students choice. It is an idea that is supposed to inspire student’s learning. By giving students a choice in their learning they will opt for activities that interest them. By choosing something that is interesting, students are more likely to complete the assigned task.
The idea of giving students choice can be a daunting proposition for teachers. Teacher automatically believe it is more work and therefore opt for giving the students the most direct option.
This does not have to be the situation.
There are a number of ways for teachers to give students choice without disturbing the flow of their classroom or creating extra work behind the scenes.
- Homework: Supply the students with a couple of different articles or videos – either the same/similar topics or completely different topics. As a follow-up students could complete a discussion post, an application question, or have them prepare to discuss the learning in class the next day.
- Group partners: Allow students to choose their partner to complete a task with or group of students. It may be important for friends to make a pact/contract for completing the work. But allowing them to work with their friends on some projects can facilitate their learning.
- Activity stations: Build activity stations that can be done in any order. Students can start where they would like. Whether this is an activity to discover definitions or learn and create on a new topic, students like be able to start easier stations; others start with harder ones.
- Planning calendar: When a project with a timeline is assigned, allow students to decide what they will work on each day to manage their learning and complete the project. By feeling they can decide their pace students feel more ownership of the project.
- Project end products: A popular project idea to use a tic-tac-toe board. This gives students nine different output formats. Throughout the year students could be told they can only use each output once (make sure they are aware of all project ideas so they can choose properly). Even giving students three output ideas can be useful – trying making at least one a technological piece (website, infographic, etc.) and at least one a hardcopy output (brochure, poster, etc.).
Students like when they feel in control of their learning. A teacher can use tricks to give them choice and still be leading them through the learing of the content.
Try giving the students some choice to encourage their learning in your classroom.