Thursday, June 23, 2016

13 Easy, Magical Ways To Give Students Choice Now

13 Easy, Magical Ways To Give Students Choice Now by A Word On Third


If you're new to giving students choice, I totally understand the feeling of overwhelm that can wash over you when you start providing choice to your students. Try to remember--the more power you hand over to your students, the more rewarding your job will become and the more self-directed your students will be.

Before you hand over choice to your students, remember that you need to teach students to plan for choice, work, and then reflect on their choices. Turning students' attention to their thought processes when working with choices is important, even if it's small. Teaching them to reflect and apply reflections to future choices will also help them to make better choices and work more efficiently.

Here are some EASY ways to hand over the power to students at the beginning of your journey into providing student choice.


Writer's Workshop
1. Let students choose their writing utensil.
Set whatever routines you want for the writing process (like using certain colors for editing or revising) and then give your kids choice within that routine. Can they choose to use pen or pencil to draft? Let them! My kids love using different colors... can they choose what to edit or revise with when they write?
2. Let students choose their writing paper.
This becomes trickier once your kids are using writer's notebooks, but when they publish, provide a lot of paper options and tell them to pick the paper that best conveys what they are communicating. I find nonfiction writing to offer the most different types of writing papers.
3. Let students choose their writing partner.
If you're not comfortable with doing this all of the time, maybe let them share once per week with a partner of their choosing.

Reader's Workshop
4. Let students choose their books.
Provide kids with many leveled books, and let them choose a certain amount within that level. Bonus points if you let kids pick 1 free choice book every week from any category (be it a different level or genre).
5. Let students choose how to respond to books.
No, not every student will have a text-to-self or text-to-text connection on Tuesday. They are going to write something in their reader's notebook or on their post-it notes that is not authentic. Instead, give them practice and let them decide how to respond to books. Maybe they'll track characters across a story mountain instead that day.
6. Let students decide on their own goals for reading.
Teach students how to make goals and let them decide what they want to improve upon. Conferring is a great time for this.
7. Let the class vote on a read aloud text.
All it takes is 2 or 3 choices for kids to be pumped!

Math Workshop
8. Let students decide which manipulatives to use.
One kid might love digi-blocks, and the other might love base-ten blocks. Once you've taught both, give kids the ownership in picking the manipulative that works best for them/
9. Let students decide which strategy to use when solving problems.
Teach your strategy for the day and give them time to practice it. Then send them off and let them solve how they want to. Maybe they want to solve multiplication problems by making an array or by using repeated addition. Once you've exposed them to different strategies, they should know what works best for them.

Word Study
10. Let students decide on their own high-frequency words for the week.
If you have a word wall and add words to it each week, can kids have 1 word wall word that they practice on their own? What do they want to learn and master?
11. Let students choose how to practice.
Providing at least 2 options can really make kids happy. Teach each option and then let kids choose. Some might want to build words with magnetic letters and others might like to rainbow write in as many different colors as they can.

Classroom Management
12. Let students decide how to line up or be dismissed to start their work.
Sounds silly, but it's still choice and it conveys the message that kids are decision-makers. Should they line up by birthday month or by favorite snack?
13. Let students choose where to sit when they work independently.
If you discuss how to pick a successful spot beforehand, this is seriously powerful. Let them work on the floor with a clipboard, at their desk, or at your small group table (when it's not in use). They know what they need. If a student has trouble, talk about it.


These are just some small ways to get you started. How do you hand over the power and provide choice in your classroom?

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