Over the last few years of teaching I have worked to be intentional with teaching practices when it comes to amplifying student voice and choice in the classroom. This shift in my teaching has really changed the learning experience for my students. I hope to share why this is so important to do in a classroom and share a few simple ways to make these changes.
Why is it essential to provide opportunities for student voice and choice?
- Promotes Engagement
- Increases Equity
- Enhances the Learning Experience
- Creates a sense of ownership
What could this look like in my class?
There are many different ways to highlight student voice in class and I know many of you have great things you are already doing in your classes. Here are just a few, simple strategies for increasing voice and choice for your students.
Developing classroom expectations with your students at the beginning of your class develops the understanding that it is their class and their view/expectations/opinions matter. Andy’s ROPES blog is a great example of this. In my class we create our Be… expectations. Students generate individual lists, then discuss in groups, and then finally generate our class list through discussion.
How students demonstrate their learning
One of the most valuable changes I have made to my classes is to provide as much opportunity for choice in activities in class as possible. In each of our summative assessments in class students will have some say in the topic they focus on and/or how they demonstrate their learning. Providing students with options for an assignment makes sure they are part of the learning process and that their learning is relevant and meaningful to them. For example, our advocacy project has students pick a health topic that is meaningful to them and supported by data and then create an advocacy campaign that best fits their message. I have had students advocate for their topics through paintings, spoken-word, podcasts, social media and so much more. It is really inspiring to see what students are able to create!
Ask for and use student feedback
Student feedback is essential because it provides valuable information about how students are experiencing the learning process, and can help improve your teaching practices as well as provide learning experiences that students want and need. One way I do this is to provide opportunities prior to a unit for students to share prior knowledge and then ask for specific topics they would like to talk about. Also, at the end of the semester I have students complete a survey about the class. Through these I can see where students wish we would have spent more time on a topic, find out what went well, what didn’t, and make adjustments for future classes.
Keeping this topic to 500 words or less was extremely challenging but I hope these suggestions are helpful ways to provide more voice and choice in your classroom. Please feel free to reach out if anyone wants to continue this conversation!
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Pair this blog post with the following:
Advice to a New Teacher by Renee Reedhardt
How to Facilitate Deeper Connections to Physical Activity by Jordan Manley
Aligning to a Social Emotional Lens in Physical Education by Jordan Manley
Have you read the latest Book of the Month recommendation?