One of the best ways to create engaging lessons is to incorporate some aspect of student choice. Students need to take ownership of their learning. They need to show initiative in the learning process. Learning styles and strengths vary, so why not provide choices for completing an assignment. Provide students with opportunities to explore and learn on their own. So how do I allow students to choose their learning while also meeting grade level standards? I have some ideas for you!
Let students pick the Activity
Provide student choice with various independent skill practice activities. Come up with three or more different ways to practice a skill. Activities could include manipulatives, task cards, technology, worksheets, games, hands-on ideas, etc. All activities have the same outcome, but students can choose how they practice the skill. This does require more work and planning ahead for the teacher, but students are very engaged.
For further explanation, let’s use the example of mass and volume. You taught students all about mass and volume units, and now you want them to practice independently. Students can choose a set of task cards to complete. They can practice on the computer using a deck of Boom™ cards. Some kids like to work alone and complete a worksheet. Other kids would prefer an interactive activity like the one below for Google slides. All students are expected to practice mass and volume. Do you want students to complete all the activities? Allow students to choose the order in which they complete them.
Let Students Choose How to Share their Learning
Let students choose the format of their presentation with a choice board. Choice boards give students anywhere from six to nine options for learning. These can easily be set up to include a variety of learning styles and gifts-make a song, create a video, illustrate a book/ poster, make a digital presentation, write a report, etc. Here are some examples of student choice boards. Make sure your choice boards include a rubric of grading criteria so students know what you expect.
Let Students Choose Who They Work With
If students are going to work together, why not let them choose their partner? I know this can create problems. I think the key to avoiding problems when allowing students to choose their partners is to have clear expectations. It does not solve all the problems, but when students know what is expected of them and they practice it, they have a greater chance of success. You don’t have to offer this option all the time, but think through the activity and see if it will work.
Let Students Choose the Topic
With the objective in mind, think about how you can allow students to choose the topic. Are you studying animal adaptations? Let students choose a biome or animal group to focus on. Is your class working on writing opinion pieces? Allow students to create a list of possible topics. Are you beginning a biography study? Allow students to choose who they want to research. Keep the broad objective in mind, but allow the path to get there to vary.
Create engaging lessons
Now that you have some ideas to incorporate student choice, go and create some engaging lessons. Look for opportunities this next week to allow for student choice in the classroom. Watch student engagement increase!
If you missed the first parts of this series, click the pictures below to read other ways to create engaging lessons.