Student Choice in the Classroom:
As one of my professional goals this semester, I’m being even more intentional about promoting student choice in the classroom. In thinking about previous years and this idea has been implemented in the classroom and I’m not satisfied and specifically, I am concerned that we didn’t go far enough when we provided the opportunities to have choice. I spent much of my summer reading about how to encourage students to take risks and be innovative, yet I feel that in many ways we are still providing a larger box than the in past, but it’s still too small. Don’t get me wrong, I think guidelines and boundaries are important, however, there is still too much control being exerted by teachers. If we truly want to have a student-centered classroom that focuses on each student’s individual learning journey, I think we need to provide them with more opportunities to direct his or her own learning.
So I’m experimenting.
In the last two weeks I’ve taken into consideration more student input than I ever have before in my classroom. For example, my students have told me that in our 3UU course (integrated grade 11 University English and HSP – Psychology, Sociology, and Anthropology) they want to deconstruct a case study every Friday morning. They want the opportunity to apply the week’s learning in a fun and active fashion. They have also requested that on Friday afternoons, (our class is two periods long – once period in the morning and one in the afternoon) they want to use this time to read, write, and provide feedback to their peers in a more unstructured setting. As I am listening to how they want to guide their learning, we are in an unstructured setting. (I’m participating in the writing as I believe it’s important for teacher modelling.) I’m looking around my classroom and what I see is productivity. Many students are writing their weekly blog post, and are asking their peers for feedback. I see students collaborating and researching the blog post they have asked to write that includes both their voices. I see students asking each other questions because a couple of them are wanting to write blog posts about how to ask and answer questions that reflect more than just surface meaning. I see students reading a variety of books – some fiction, some non-fiction but all on topics, themes, issues, etc., that each student connects with on a personal level.