Student choice?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by TeacherGroupie, Nov 14, 2013.

  1. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Nov 14, 2013

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  3. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Nov 14, 2013

    I offer my on-level students (high school) choice with their projects. My advanced students are expected to do a variety of tasks, and all of them completely.

    With my on-level students I try to design my projects so that those with certain talents and desires (drawing, reading, song writing) can pick tasks associated with their strengths and those that can't draw, don't like to read and prefer listening to rather than writing songs, can avoid their weaknesses.

    However, the students do not get to pick just one thing to do. If they want to draw a cartoon, they'll have to two other things that might make them stretch a bit. If they pick the easiest task they'll have to couple it with a hard one. Sometimes they have to pick three of nine things to do (tic-tac-toe) or they have to pick two (two mediums or one easy and one hard).

    I like giving them choice but I honestly do not know if it makes any difference in their learning and/or grades. I do not have a higher number of submissions by giving choices than when I just assigned the same task to everyone.
     
  4. Barbd

    Barbd Rookie

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    Nov 14, 2013

    I like to make choices available whenever I can. With our math curriculum, most times that is limited, so I do it whenever I can.

    I just had the students do a project instead of a unit test to cover our Pythagorean Theorem/Trig unit. It was very open-ended: Create a real-world model of a Pythagorean Theorem.

    I had drawings, models, slide shows, short stories even about so many crazy things that actually could use the Pythagorean Theorem.

    Did it help? I think so. I got some very imaginative projects (pogo stick contest!), the kids liked it, almost everyone did it (something that rarely happens in my school), the kids applied what they knew, and I was able to assess in-depth their knowledge.

    To me it's a win-win. I'm not going mind-numb grading the same 20 answers and the kids are able to show their skills and talents at the same time.
     
  5. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Nov 15, 2013

    I was just reading a similar article about this concept, though it went into less detail than this one did. Thanks for sharing!

    I think that having level-based differentiated choices is one very crucial element to letting students experience that "learner's high" that I'm interested in. The challenge can't be too easy to be boring, but it can't be too hard to be discouraging.

    Building these types of activities can be a huge challenge though, requiring a lot of time and creativity.
     
  6. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I really believe that this can really help if nothing else in motivating students to learn because they are interested in doing that activity that way. I use menus quite often and typically my workstations look like what was described. We had potential families touring this week, and I know how it must have looked to an outsider (my admins already know the method to my madness). Kids were working on several different options and then move on to the next activity. I really see the results.
     
  7. nyteacher29

    nyteacher29 Comrade

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    Nov 16, 2013

    we are not allowed to have student choice in our lessons which is funny because Danielson lists choice as highly effective :confused:
     
  8. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Nov 16, 2013

    I did my masters, in part, on this two years ago and have been using menus (and specifically modeled after video games) for 5 years now. It works fantastically well with social studies. I think with math up to now it would have been very difficult but with common core and the more open-ended approach to problem solving it could find a home there.

    I do it in a similar fashion as the blog. Every three weeks my students are given a set number of points they must earn in a final "packet" for the unit. They are given a bunch of options in both format and topic to earn those points. Some kids do great spending hours building a model, others do great spending an hour doing flashcards. It provides built in differentiation and incredibly high levels of engagement. It also allows me to have time to reteach those kids who may need it while they rest work on enrichment. I'm amazed we don't see more of it in the classroom yet.
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 16, 2013

    I'm interested in anything new... does anyone have a model for high school math, specifically Algebra? Any idea of the types of choices I might offer?
     
  10. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Nov 16, 2013

    Could you share some examples? How the points work, how you time things, etc?

    I do stations sometimes with my students. They work in groups and move from one part of the room to another, where there are different tasks. It is hard to get the timing right. I always end up with one station that takes less time than the others. Which I've combatted by giving a "filler" section on their worksheets for them to do when they have extra time. But that just means there is one more activity to create within the topic, which is usually difficult to do.
     
  11. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Nov 17, 2013

    If you go to www.mrroughton.com and click on assignments you'll see all the menu options. If you click on Fridge you can see some student work.

    Every assignment has a point value based on the expected time to complete with 1 hour equally 10 points. All students must do the same total amount of points (which is based on how many days we spend on the packet, between two and four depending on time available.) If we do 20, for example, they could do a ten and 2 fives if they so chose. They could also do a single 20 and be done.

    Kids who did not do well on the test must first complete a Retry which is not test corrections but an analysis of the questions they missed. This counts for 5 of their packet points and give me time to work with them one on one or in small groups to reteach as necessary.
     

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