Academic Choice is something I always strive for, but also struggle with… how do I balance making sure my students get practice with important skills, but also empower them to own their learning?
One of the ‘aha’ moments I had when reading Kids First from Day One was the need to balance structured/unstructured times. There are so many times in the day when children have so little voice over their learning. They are asked to sit and listen. Sit and do. There’s far too much sitting in my opinion, but that’s for another post…
One of the ways I try to empower my students is by giving them a voice in their learning the moment they walk in the door. After they arrive and do a few morning jobs (give me their home/school folder, check in for lunch, grab a chair) there is a ‘menu’ of choices they can select from for Morning Work.
Everything on the menu is something we’ve done before. I do my best to draw a simple visual to help them know what the choice is and there are items out on the rug they may need if they aren’t things they are able to access independently. We started with only two choices and slowly built up to three. Almost always, these are not paper and pencil activities. Reading is always a choice. The others are writing or math choices.
Usually one of the items is a rather quick task and if they’ve selected it and completed it, they can pick another. If there is something I’d like them all to do first, I let them know… but I make sure it’s something simple and quick enough to allow for choice after. This has been wildly successful in my class. Kids love owning their learning.