Student choice is an innovative teaching phenomenon that many teachers are utilizing in their classrooms. Student choice leads to increased engagement and empowerment. It inspires students to want to learn new things. It allows students to show what they know, but to take it so much further. Student choice creates an environment where students discover what they want to learn.
What is Student Choice?
Student choice is not just a menu of decisions, but it is about empowering students to establish what they want to learn. It involves a paradigm shift of inspiring possibilities. It allows freedom and power in the classroom. It provides students the autonomy to determine the route in which they want to go to learn new skills.
They also determine which strategies they want to employ. Student choice allows students the opportunity to choose the materials and the resources they will utilize. They explore themes and topics of what they want to learn about and expand their interests. Teachers encourage them to choose the format for their projects, work at their own pace, and provide tutoring and facilitation.
Students will be more accountable by managing their projects by setting deadlines and breaking down tasks. Teachers still need to make decisions because they possess the expertise and wisdom that students need. As enlightening as it sounds to allow students to decide what they want to learn, this is not reality where teachers are accountable for student learning and progress. Offering student choice is an invigorating way to teach what must be taught and increases the ability for students to retain the skills and information.
When teachers incorporate choice, students become lifelong learners and they retain the information at a much higher retention rate. Teachers partner with students and they learn to be creative, self-directed learners. Students enjoy what they are doing and learn more in the process. Everything in class is not a choice, but there are many opportunities to offer student choice in the classroom.
What are the Benefits of Student Choice?
There is a myriad of benefits of incorporating student choice into the classroom. Among these benefits are: tapping into multiple learning styles, encouraging positive behaviors, and empowerment of student ownership. Student choice encourages a positive learning atmosphere where all students are involved and engaged.
Student choice allows teachers to focus on small groups or individual students that may need extra assistance, and the others are engaged in their own tasks. Students ask their own questions and assess their own learning. They are involved in inspiring, creating, and designing the process of knowledge. This becomes a more personalized learning that is more flexible and less rigid. This is a shift in mindset for teachers and students. The learners become creative, critical thinkers. Teachers inspire innovation, authentic learning experiences and practical ways to empower students.
Student choice enhances students’ excitement about topics, curriculum, and their interests. Creativity is an essential skill for our youth, and these experiences increase their imagination. They discover powerful skills and increase their interests. These types of choices allow more meaningful learning to occur.
How You can Bring Student Choice into Your Class
Start simple by offering students easy activities to engage in when they are finished with their work such as independent reading, playing a math game, or writing in a journal. Another idea is to allow students the choice of who they work with. During these unprecedented times, many students are learning virtually and can still work together in small groups or as partners on assignments or projects online.
Teachers may also encourage students to decide the next math skill to be taught. An example of this would be providing a list of skills and asking the students what they would like to learn about next. This automatically increases their interest in what teachers are teaching. Offering flexible seating in the classroom is another opportunity for student choice. In classrooms that are still offering in-person learning, flexible seating may be limited. Students at any age enjoy freedom and autonomy in where they sit.
Free writing is another terrific way for student choice, as students learn the writing process and teachers can be proofreaders for them. There are many times when writing topics are assigned, and students enjoy the ability to write what they want to.
Lastly, a new and exciting way to offer student choice is incorporating written or digital choice boards. The possibilities are endless with this assignment. The choice boards are perfect for allowing students the opportunity to work on the assignments at their own pace, and they make the decision on which assignments they complete. An example of this would be to offer them a vocabulary choice board, and there are a specific amount of different assignments on it. They must complete some of the assignments, and they can choose which of those to complete.