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.
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.