The Power of Student Choice

By Michelle Schneider, Lower School Faculty

“How would you like to practice your sight words?”
“What types of books would you like to work on in Guided Reading this week?”
“How would you like to showcase what you learned in math?”

These are questions first grade students are asked individually to give them ownership of their learning.  Having choices allows learners to create and demonstrate their understanding in a way that is meaningful to them. It increases student effort, engagement, and interest.  Some children might like to build, others might prefer to draw, and then some want to get up out of their seats and act out a concept or practice spelling words they just learned.

While student choice will vary across content areas and grade levels, offering students a choice is motivational.  When you ask students their preference in an activity, you are telling them that you trust them with their learning.  This week, as first grade closes out a Social Studies unit on Milton S. Hershey, it will be exciting to see the outcomes.

Perhaps, one student will become a newscaster interviewing another student as Mr. Hershey. Other children might create a story about Milton Hershey’s life using the iPad Book Creator app, or write a letter to Mr. Hershey referencing facts learned about his life. Another student might even build replicas of Mr. Hershey’s Lancaster Caramel Company and his former Chocolate Factory using interlocking cubes.

As a teacher, there is great joy in watching the children take ownership of their learning and share in it with a sense of pride.

Word Work Choices