My last Notable Notes collection focused on the workshop model, but as I listend to my students last week I realized there is an essential component to workshop that many classes miss: choice. In my experience, the one sure way to inspire student passion and engagement is to give them choice.
Perhaps the best place to begin an exploration of this idea is with Alfie Kohn’s “Choices for Children: Why and How to Let Students Decide” which explores the idea of choice and power. Perhaps, more importantly, it raises the issue of the impact of powerlessness on our students’ motivation and engagement.
So how can you offer choice in your classroom? Amanda Ronan offers “7 Ways to Hack Your Classroom to Include Student Choice” on Edudemic. One of the frustrating aspects of being a student is having so little control over your life. It is this frustration that often results in acting out in a number of ways (I know I am guilty of this same behavior, aren’t you?). Giving students some power, some choice, can reap benefits in a number of ways.
Rebecca Alber offers “5 Ways to Give Your Students More Voice and Choice” on Edutopia. Many of her methods echo the ways I give my students voice and choice in my classroom.
I also like John DePasquale’s “Promote Student Choice in Writing Workshop” featured on Scholastic as it explores ideas essential to helping writers find their voice. I love that he begins with one simple question: “What Do You Want to Write?”
Jennifer Ward’s Digital Is post “Anything? Really! Student Choice and Voice in Inquiry” explores how to build student inquiry projects around choice and also resonates with the way my students build their service projects.
I don’t assign topics or texts in my classes. Even when we work within a required reader (required by my department), I give my students choice. We always begin each semester exploring our ideas, thoughts, interests, passions, and questions so each individual student can find their own entry point and topic to pursue. Do you think student choice is important? How do you give your students choice?