Empowering Students with Choices

I have always been encouraged to give students choices for class projects and grading opportunities. Whenever I get the chance, I try to encourage others to give their students choices. In my opinion one or two of those choices should always be a technology related choice such as create an Animoto or a Prezi. Lots of students come to the library to work on Power Points for their assignments, however. This is something I think we need to get away from.

When I say that we should allow students to use technologies such as Web 2.0 programs for assignments and projects it is easy to imagine having to drag classes to the library or check out the laptops spending an entire day teaching students how to use the websites or programs. That is not how it has to be. These days teachers are far too pressured to show testing gains and have little class time to devote to a new venue of expression.

Giving students the choice of creating a Prezi, Storybird, a wiki or any number of Web 2.0 options or even just a video does not mean you have to be an expert on using any of them. It does not mean teachers must give instruction on how to use them either. As a matter of fact, your assignment description can have a statement saying students may choose one of these options for their project, but the teacher will not be giving any instruction on using them. Interested students will teach themselves and their friends how to use a tool.

By providing our students with a variety of choices for their school projects and assignments teachers are casting wider nets. We will engage more students and get better results by giving them more choices.