Okay--- I'm going to admit it right here...
Choice? Give my students CHOICE?
All kinds of crazy would ensue!
And besides that-- it just sounds like a lot of work! Yikes!
Yep- that's what I used to think. Then I heard other teachers talk about how they offered students choices and how great it was. It sounded exciting. I started thinking about how I could provide choices in my classroom. I dabbled in it a bit.
Then my district implemented a new teacher evaluation rubric. I am in an awesome district & we have a really good rubric. Really. It's a good rubric. We actually choose the areas in which we want to work towards improving. I choice offering student choice. I've been so pleased with how providing choice seems to be improving student learning.
Planning for student choice in your instruction offers these benefits:
- Gives students a greater sense of control = happier, more actively involved students
- Increases engagement and motivation = more attention to work, more meaningful learning
That's not a difficult equation up there. ..providing student choice increases student achievement.
I have noticed that my students are indeed more involved. They do take more ownership of their learning, they're more engaged and are performing well academically.
And they're not running amok.
Nope- not a bit. My fear of all kinds of crazy? Didn't happen.
Are you like me? Have you been hearing about this student choice thing & ready to start dabbling? Ready to implement some choice into your instruction?
Here's some reassurance: You don't have to dive in all at once. You can start small and add on when you feel comfortable. A good way to start (and the way I started, too), is to add choice in your workstation or center time. I don't mean it's center time....everyone go make your choices and get started.
Just choose one or two groups each rotation to make choices.
Just offer two choices to start out.
Here are two ways you can offer choice during your workstation/center time:
During ELA centers, I have kiddos in small groups. This is the chart that I use for our two rotations on Monday. I'm a very visual person, so I use icons. The blue, purple, & orange shapes signify tables in our room. These are assigned tasks whatever activity I have placed at the station is the activity this group completes.
The green C's signify CHOICE. I only put out a max of 4-5 choices per day, and sometimes fewer. It depends on what the kiddos need to work on. On Monday, for example, these choices might be:
- Rainbow Writing Phonics Skill words (a favorite!)
- Snowman Roll & Write
- Possessive Nouns Dice
- Listening Center
- Independent Reading
Here's another way to start out with choice.....
This is the system I use in Math. This will work for you especially if you want to offer multiple choices, but only one rotation.
It works well for me for math because I do math warm up, mini-lesson, then most kiddos move into independent work while I work with a small group. After they've finished their independent work, each kiddo checks the chart. I have some assigned to an activity/station each day; you can see in this chart that I have 3 children already at each station. These kiddos don't get to make a choice today, but they will get to choose the other days of the week. This is actually a powerpoint slide. I project this on our smartboard and those who are down at the bottom just go up and slide their picture up to their choice.
We did actually try letting everyone make a choice, but we ended up getting bogged down with a line of kiddos waiting to move their picture to their choice. That's not the way we want to spend time. We actually met all together and this is the plan they helped come up with: assign some to each station each day so there aren't as many making choice. Smart cookies, aren't they?!
You can grab your own copy of the Check In Board above! There are a couple ways to use it: you can insert pics of your students like I have, or you can insert text boxes and type in the names of each student. They really love moving their slide around! OH! And I'll let you in on a secret....you don't have to have a Smartboard to use this. Believe me- our Smartboard isn't always working 100% of the time. They're just as happy to move their pic on the computer! Just click the image below to download directly from my dropbox! I'd love to hear how you plan to use it in your room!
If you already provide choice in your instruction, I'd love to hear about it! How does it work in your room?