(written by Karen Lea)
We all like choices! Think about going to a restaurant for dinner and being brought food and you didn’t have a choice about what to eat! Think about going to purchase a car and there was just one option. We all like choices! So, why don’t we create lessons that occasionally give students a choice. I know, we can’t do this all the time, but there are times we can let students choose. There are several ways to do this, but my favorite is a choice board. Plus, there are choice board already created for you. Check these out:
Don’t want to start that big? Ok, let’s slow down and do this a little slower. For this, I went back to the mathematics Common Core Standards. Let’s look at standards and the kinds of choices we can give students.
Grade 4 Standard – Measure angles in whole-number degrees using a protractor. Sketch angles of specified measure.
Lesson – The standard lesson is probably give the students a worksheet with angles and have them measure them. BORING! Think about other options. Here is my suggestion. Start with 3 or 4 angles on paper after you have modeled how to measure angles. Then tell them they must measure, describe, and sketch 5 more angles without leaving their seat. It is a simple choice, but they get to choose what to measure.
High School Standard – Use probabilities to make fair decisions.
Lesson – This lesson can be so much fun! After you have taught the material, have students create their own game that uses probabilities to make decisions. They decide the rules, they decide the context, and they decide if it is a physical game, a computer game, or a board game.
When did I figure out that students love choices? The week we were to learn about a mathematician. I told the students they had to prove they learned the material anyway they wanted to (I was responding to a dare from a colleague.) Guess what? One student made a comic book, one did a very artistic drawing, some did plays, some did interviews, …. They had a great time, they learned, and we all had fun with that lesson.
So, how can you give students choices? Post your ideas and let’s talk.