Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Giving Choices

choicesIn Choice - how much is just right? from Ewan McIntosh | Digital Media & Education, Ewan McIntosh asks,

“So here's my question: do you offer at least three choices to students in every piece of thinking, learning or 'work' that they do?”

I’ve heard some of my friends call it “analysis paralysis” because when faced with too many choices, it is hard to choose just one. I have been a victim of this many times and I’m sure that my students have felt the same way.

I don’t think I’ve always given my students at least three choices but I try to give them choices as much as possible. When students are given a choice, they feel more in control of their situation and tend to complete assignments more, engaged in learning more, and find the learning relevant more. This is what I want them to feel because in real life (or life outside of school), this is what they will need to feel in order to succeed and feel fulfilled in their lives.

When I start the year off, I don’t always give three choices. If students have never been given this option, giving them too many choices can throw them into “analysis paralysis” and then nothing gets done. At the beginning, I start off with giving them two choices. They can do either assignment for a grade. Later in the year, I might add a third choice. If I try to give them a list of options to choose from, they are unable to make a choice. It is better if I don’t give them more than five choices. Sometimes, depending on the student, I may decide that no more than three choices are appropriate.

Not only am I hoping that they will complete the assignment(s) as asked, but I hope they learn more about decision making. I try to teach them to look at the end product or goal and see which assignment appeals to them in order to reach the end. If I plan properly, either choice will show me the same assessment results but may appeal to different learning styles or behaviors. It is my job as a teacher to make sure these assignments have the same end result (determined by the goals and objectives of my lesson).

Do you give choices? If so, how many? How do you structure the environment? Please share!

Image: 'Information overload'
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1 comment:

Sioux Roslawski said...

I do NOT always give choices, because when it comes to assessments (like the state ones) they don't have a choice.

However, when possible, my students do get to choose...what animal they research, what memoir story they want to revise and work on, and so on. Sometimes I give my class a "Think Tac Toe" board with nine different mini assignments. Each student has to choose three (in a row) to complete. Of course, I rig it so that one or two--projects that I consider the most crucial--are placed so at least one of them is unavoidable. ;)

Yes, Pat, choice is extremely important. Just like us, children appreciate it when they get to choose...