Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Student Choice

Project-based learning (PBL)
          Alternative assessments
                              Personalized learning
                                        Flexible strategies

These words and phrases are everywhere.  They all directly relate to student choice.  As Joshua Block so eloquently puts it in his article:

Learning that incorporates student choice provides a pathway for students to fully, genuinely invest themselves in quality work that matters.  Participating in learning design allows students to make meaning of content on their own terms.

So... how do the phrases above relate to student choice, and what does that actually look like?

Here are some examples of what's happening at Warrior Run.  (Keep in mind, these are just a few examples - there are so many instances of student choice occurring every day!)

Students recently completed a persuasive research essay on a social topic (e.g. hunting, paying NCAA athletes, year-round school).  Through the research paper process, they honed their skills in research, writing, and crafting an argument.  They are now applying those skills as they turn their papers into public awareness projects. Students were given time to explore four different project options and choose their own direction.  It is now up to them to meet the basic requirements in a creative way.

As students learned about this period in literary history, they were given the opportunity to 1) become experts, and 2) help their classmates learn.  In small groups, students researched a Dark Romantic author, analyzed a short story by that author, created a lesson plan, and developed an interactive assessment.

Wrapping up the unit on poetry, students were asked to explore different types of hands-on poetry, including book spine poetry, blackout poetry, and others.  With very little direct instruction, students used their understanding of poetic rules and terms as they navigated in the uncharted territory of hands on poetry.  In the end, they created true poetic masterpieces.

Students are just beginning their final novel study in high school.  They will be given the option to work independently from start to finish.  Their goal is to complete checkpoints (i.e. quizzes and other assessments) along the way as they show their teacher their understanding of the novel.  The ultimate goal is proficiency or better.

From a long list of options, students chose a topic from Peruvian culture (e.g. food, clothing, customs, geography) and a corresponding language skill (i.e. reading, writing, speaking, listening).  In small groups, students researched that topic and developed a stand-alone lesson to go with it, including a formative assessment.  In the end, there were 16 stations throughout the school.  In their groups, the students visited each of the other stations to learn about that aspect of Peruvian culture, demonstrate their understanding, and receive a stamp for their visit.  

As I said earlier, these are just a few examples of student choice at the high school.  Do you have an example from your classroom?  Please share in the comments.

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