Whether it’s a dinner buffet or career opportunities, most people would prefer not to have the selection dictated to them.
It’s no different for students -- because they're people, too. Whether it's choosing which book to read or which project to tackle, having a range of options can make both the decision-making process and the reading/project downright delicious. Variety, as they say, is indeed the spice of life!
Says Joshua Block, “Choice is an integral part of education that inspires.”
But offering students choice – especially if it’s new to you – can be intimidating. Advises John McCarthy:
When providing students with choices, it's important to consider that the options are ones that the learner will want to do. A way to address this is to follow a 2+1 approach. Offer students two choices that are designed by the teacher. These are how the teacher envisions the product. The third option is where students get to propose their own idea of how to accomplish the task. This way if students do not connect with the teacher ideas, they are motivated to provide an alternative. Here's a resource with more on empowering choice: http://openingpaths.org/blog/2014/03/constructivist-learning/
There is no one formula for providing choice to students -- different approaches are effective in different contexts. What is most important is that teachers provide a combination of inspiration and support as they allow students to direct and take charge of their own learning.
For further reading:
“Choice Equals Power: How to Motivate Students to Learn”: http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/11/18/how-to-help-students-develop-the-motivation-to-learn/
“Student Choice Leads to Student Voice”: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-choice-leads-to-voice-joshua-block
"Learner Interest Matters: Strategies for Empowering Student Choice": http://www.edutopia.org/blog/differentiated-instruction-learner-interest-matters-john-mccarthy
“Five Ways to Give Your Students More Voice and Choice”: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/five-strategies-more-voice-choice-students-rebecca-alber
And to listen to "3 Strategies for Using 'Choice' to Drive Student Motivation and Learning," click here!