How would you feel if you knew you were a wonderful writer but the only way you could express yourself was through modern dance? What would you do if you have to recite your report card comments by memory to each and every parent? How would you feel if you were given the choice to write your report cards any way YOU want? (Ours would be invisible!)
Wouldn’t that be amazing? Wouldn’t that make you want to write the best report cards the world has ever seen?
So why are we so determined as teachers that there’s only one way to assess our students? Why can’t they have choices too?
What if you allowed to students to pick the type of assessment they wanted to do as long as they still showed you how well they understand?
We admit, this philosophy won’t work for everything because there are certain things we have to assess. If you are checking to see if students can write a paragraph, they’ll have to write a paragraph, but there are still several choices that they could be making:
What is the paragraph about?
Will they write on paper or a device?
Will they have to type or can they use a speech to text program?
If they’re writing on paper, what type of lines? Double spaced?
Can they write with pencil or pen?
So, we’re not saying to give students every choice every time, but giving students a few choices puts them in control-which is sometimes the carrot needed to get the work done well.
Here is what we’ve learned happens to engagement when students choose…they’re engaged! POOF! And it didn’t require costumes or props! Your students will be engaged because they have choices.
We’ve developed several activities that provide students with choices. We’re not saying you need to buy any of them, but these are examples where students can have choices and the quality of work we receive is exceptional!
And yes, most science activities lend themselves well to choices, but remember you can keep it simple with simple choices-seating, tools, lights on or dimmed, music on/not on, colour of paper, when it’s due, working independently or in a group…
Give it a try! We’ll let you choose your own choice. Let us know what you tried in the comments below.