I have heard many teachers say if they could go back in time and and redo their first year of teaching, they would change a number of things. I think student choice is something I would focus more on if I could go back and redo that first year in grade 2!
I have read and followed Carol Ann Tomlinson’s work on Differentiation for several years now. One of the elements that I have tried to embrace in my classroom is student choice in order to differentiate by interest. This can be done in terms of content, process, product, and many other areas in the classroom.
I believe giving students a choice in the class is one of the most powerful tools we can arm them with; encouraging creativity and independence. They then have ownership in the class and believe their thoughts and ideas are valued in a safe and accepting environment.
This year my students have had a choice in the following areas:
-Which book I Read Aloud to the class
-How to decorate our classroom for holidays
-Partners for various activities
-Where they can get information for their research (internet, books, newspapers, etc)
-To work independently or in a group
-Individual Questions to inquire into for Project Day
-Which books to read for Literature Circles
-What to Blog about
-Which students from our class deserve Awards presented by School
-What the topics are for our Daily Guess The Wordle
-Pieces of work to include in their Portfolios
-Schedule of days events
-How displays in the classroom are arranged
-Ways to show evidence of what they have learned in a particular unit (Choice Board for Assessment)
-Plans for Classroom parties (menu, games, movies, etc.)
-Which students should represent our class for various school activities
-The opportunity to always incorporate technology into any aspect of class that they see as appropriate
I know there is more, at least I hope there is! Students have a voice and we should guide them in making responsible choices for themselves regarding their learning!