Author Topic: Allowing more choice in the classroom  (Read 1471 times)

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Offline rseyfer2

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Allowing more choice in the classroom
« on: May 03, 2016, 01:08:01 AM »
I think that one of the hardest things to gain student interest in is a topic that they care nothing about.  As a teacher, it won't always be possible to give the students a lot of choice, sometimes due to the school's structured lessons and sometimes simply because it is too much work for the teacher.  However, when possible, I think that adding in some extra opportunities to choose topics would be a great way to engage and motivate the students.  Especially at the starting stages of learning a foreign language, lessons are often very topic based.  Personally, in my own language learning, it was very hard to feel like I got much out of an assignment where I disliked the topic, and hard to become motivated.  We would often have oral presentations to give on particular topics, and I wish that sometimes I had had a second option for what topic I could present.  It would not even have to be a completely different topic.  I think that as a teacher you could offer some different perspectives on the topic that might appeal to a wider group of students.  For example, one of the topics that I remember disliking the most was talking about personal hair styles and fashions.  However, if the topic had been widened to allow for other options, I think it could have been much more interesting.  Students could perhaps choose to talk about the most interesting hair style that they've ever seen, or famous celebrities' hairstyles.  Obviously, this is a rather limited example, but I believe that having a few choices for some of the assignments the students are given would be a great way to keep them involved and also help them to feel more motivated by giving them personal involvement in their assignments.  In order to make this work easier, it might be useful for teachers to reach out to the students during assignments to see which topics they like the least or which topics they find most difficult to write and why.  If they find an assignment difficult because of the subject matter rather than the limits of the assignment itself, than perhaps the teacher could take that into consideration in presenting a wider range of topics or finding a new way to approach the subject to make it more engaging or personally applicable to students' lives.  The teacher should be cautious in this not to let the class feel that they control the material, but rather present it in a way that shows that the teacher at least cares seriously for the opinions of the students in at least listening to their thoughts on the matter.  Any change to assignments should, of course, be made after careful thought into the benefits and possible drawbacks of doing so.  It may be that widening the topic may present struggles in fair grading, not gain student attention as much as expected, or even be less useful than completing the original assignment.  However, I think that if used well, having occasions for choice in the classroom could be a useful tool for promoting motivation and student engagement.         

Offline hkearf

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Re: Allowing more choice in the classroom
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2017, 08:28:08 PM »
The implementation of "choice" for students in the classroom can make a huge difference in student engagement and responsibility within their learning process. Something I have done in the past is given students a "choice board" with a range of activities that can accomplish similar goals. This way, students are able to engage with the topic in an approach that works for them. Since it is not always possible to provide different topics (content may not be a choice for the instructor), it helps to provide different approaches to the topic and various activities to meet the objectives.

Here is a great resource for the basics in creating choice boards: Choice Boards to Increase Student Ownership