Today Shelly Terrell challenged us to let the students choose how they would do the lesson for goal #11 of her #30goals challenge. I’ve done this in a few different ways in the past, but feel that I must try again…practice makes perfect right? So here are a few of the things that I’ve done:
- Last year, I allowed the students to dictate the time frame for which we created a digital storytelling project. They were also able to choose the elements of their story. While this didn’t give them complete and total ownership, it did allow them some. (See last year’s blog post to read all the details of how this lesson went.)
- Each month, I have a dedicated training time for each grade level of teachers on my campus. This year, instead of telling them what I wanted them to learn this year, I gave them a list of all the technologies that we have available on our campus (hardware and software), as well as a list of web 2.0 tools that I’m familiar with and are appropriate for elementary age students. They then collaborated with their team members and chose topics of interest to them. Since these teachers have already chosen topics of interest to them, I may post a poll and allow them to vote on the method that I teach them that topic with for our next training session.
This afternoon I taught a class on technology and cricital thinking. Shelly’s challenge came just in time for this class. I had already planned to allow them to research particular methods of critical thinking and input their data into our class wiki, but I decided to add one extra component to the assignment. Rather than having each group just get up and tell us about it, they would have to come up with an activity for teaching the model.
Unfortunately, the teachers were more focused on finishing the assignment as opposed to creating a quality activity for teaching the model to others. This was due in large part to the training being after school. I also think that if we had had a larger amount of time to create this activity, that it would have gone a little better.
So, what have a learned from allowing my students to have free reign over their assignments? I have learned that there is a time and place for it just like any other learning activity. I’ve also learned that students really do learn more when they are given control over their learning.