Giving Students Choice

When collaborating with teachers, we typically have the end goal in mind. Will this be a Google Slides project, a video using iMovie, a research paper? Students typically ask, “How long does this need to be? How many slides do I need to have in my presentation?”

With such a large amount of tech tools available to demonstrate learning, giving students choice can be a powerful way to orchestrate autonomy and creativity in ways we could never imagine.

How do I set up the lesson?

Set expectations from the beginning. Students may feel challenged as you are giving a lot of freedom in how they complete the assignment. I suggest taking pit stops along the way — reviewing student notes or scheduling individual conferences to discuss findings. Encourage students to share their ideas with you and the class. If your school uses a Learning Management System, set up a way for students to discuss their progress and ask questions.

What tools should student use?

Start by selecting a few tools students can use. Create a list or a “choice board” for students. As students do this more often, the list will grow; soon you may not even need to provide a list as students will have experience with many tools.

Too often, we show students how to use one tool — click here to access __, click here to access __.  I am finding students can figure out a lot of these tools on their own or with help from their peers. It gives students the opportunity to problem solve as well. Most often, the answer can be Googled or found in the tool help section. We can be available to help a student who is stumped, but often, questions can be answered quickly by using the help section.

What about students who struggle with this concept?

Sometimes our brightest students have difficulty with choice; some students may need more guidance when choosing a tool. You know your students best; create a shorter list of tools designed with their individual needs in mind.

In addition, students want to know the exact expectations to get the grade. Providing a rubric at the beginning can help. The rubric will not be specific to the tool, but the way in which students demonstrate their learning.




Author: Becca Munson

Becca Munson, Librarian, is a National Board Certified Teacher with over 23 years of experience in education. She is currently a school librarian at Blue Valley West High School in Overland Park, KS. Becca continues to find ways to positively impact student learning with literacy initiatives, technology integration, and building rapport with students and staff. Follow her on Twitter to view the library in action @bvwlibrary and @beccamunson .

Categories: Blog Topics, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

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