being a student, being a teacher, Personalized Learning, student choice

A Small Idea for More Choice in Our Curriculum

It never fails; spring break hits and all of a sudden it seems there is very little time left of the school year.  The students feel it as they grow more restless, eager to explore more, not as satisfied with the same old routine.  We feel it as educators, too.  We feel the sheer panic of not having done enough, not having taught enough, not being enough.

So I wanted to do a review of the standards we have covered.  I wanted to give the students way more choice.  While choice and student voice is huge component of what we do, it can sometimes feel lost in the background as we create projects together and try to dig deeper into our learning.  So I wanted to facilitate more small group and I wanted to be able to meet the needs of more students.  I wanted to be more for more of my kids as they really stretch their legs, and their minds.

So on a plane ride home from Texas, it finally fell into place.  A short “Choose your adventure” type of paper where all of the students could choose whatever they needed for the 5 standards.  (We actually have 7 but 2 of them will be  explored in May).  They didn’t have to get a bingo.  They didn’t have to pick anything in particular.  They just had to pick one from each standard after deciding what they needed the most.  Every standard gets 2 days of work-time in class, students can change their minds to their needs, and the best part has been that the two incredible special education teachers that are also in our classroom in various hours are also teaching.  Utilizing their knowledge and ideas is something I have really wanted to do for a long time, but had a hard time figuring out how to do.  This has done just that.

My Standards Review - Google Docs.clipular

So how has it been?  Kind of amazing actually.  Students are more in tune with what they need and want.  They are getting to work with others if they would like, they are coming up with some creative ideas when they want, or they are getting the support they feel they need.  In fact, I asked a group of kids if this was helpful and they all gave me an enthusiastic yes!  I have loved the smaller groups, the one-on-one teaching that I have been able to do, as well as seeing the success that they are experiencing.

While my mission as a teacher is to provide as much choice in learning as possible, in whichever area is needed, sometimes it is hard to wrap my head around personalizing learning more when I teach so many students.  This small breakdown of skills and choices has helped us do just that and is making me think about every thing I teach.  What other units can be made into something like this?  Where else can we provide opportunities that fit the needs of students better?  I hope this inspires you to maybe do something similar.

If you like what you read here, consider reading my book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.  Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.

18 thoughts on “A Small Idea for More Choice in Our Curriculum”

  1. I am always looking for new ways to allow for more voice and choice in my lessons. I like this because students really have to be mindful about their learning. I teach 8th grade, and I think they will appreciate the choices. Thanks for another great post.

  2. Do you do something similar to this when you are not reviewing at the end of the year, but assessing throughout the year?

  3. I love this so much! I’m going to adapt it for 5th grade reading standards. It’s perfect that it includes a “work in a small group with the teacher” option as well as “create your own project.” It really leaves room for all kids to have choices. Thanks so much for creating and sharing this!

    1. I teach fifth grade. Five classes , 28-31 in each class. I’d love to see or brainstorm together for fifth grade standards.

    1. MEL-Con is just an anagram for a constructed response, so it stands for Main idea, Evidence, Link (Analysis of evidence linking it back to the main idea), and Conclusion

  4. Thank you for this inspiration. I used a modified form of this for students to demonstrate their understanding of standards while doing a novel study. Each student chose their own novel and then chose the assignments to demonstrate their understanding. I loved that it exposed the students to the curriculum standards that need to be addressed, as well as providing choice. Each student needed to complete 5 assignments for their novel, this seemed like a lot, 250 assignments should be submitted (248 actually were!) in my 2 grade 7 classes. The students loved the choices. Once their books were done they spent 2 days on an assignment. The assignments were easy and quick to assess, as I was just assessing the understanding of a standard. We did this in June and I have to say I’ve never had an easier month. Kids were focused and engaged and the work was great quality. I will use this format again.

    1. It is just a way for them to remember to analyze so it stands for: Main Idea, Evidence, Link (analysis), and conclusion. We spend a lot of time developing our analysis skills

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