Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #17
- Student choice
This has never been a risk for me. I have always sought out student choice and in put. Not that it has always worked.
I recall 1998, my first time teaching. Worse still, it was my first time teaching Shakespeare. Julius Caesar, to be exact.
One of my students, who was new to LHS, talked about how her English teacher at her old school had done a Shakespeare pamphlet where each student was given an act and then they had to sift through magazines and newspapers to use imagery and headlines to re-imagine and show the scene.
I jumped at this in a second, though I wasn’t quite prepared for the drain on the magazines and newspapers that six sections of Comm 10 would have!
Looking back, it was mostly busy work. A few students created something interesting and original. But I didn’t know any better than. I do now.
But I am still seeking student in put and choice.
I mostly seek it when it comes to due dates. I will have students check their calendars and ask them when they want a paper due. Will Friday work – and you can have the weekend to not stress about it – or are you crammed with activities and other tests and would rather wait to turn the paper in on Monday?
And I am always open to new ways for students to present their information and findings.
That is one thing I love about Composition and English in general, there is so much freedom for interpretation.
For example, when it comes to students delivering their mock TED Talks in CC 2, I leave it totally open for them. They have total choice over topic, content, and format.
The only limit is that it must be at least 15 minutes and school appropriate.
I am usually blown away by what they come up with. Last year I had Will who wanted to show up (intentionally) late by having Tayton drive his van right up outside the window of where we were presenting. He’d slam open the van’s door, hop out, sprint inside, and launch into his TED Talk . . . which was on his van. Perfect.
The students don’t always make the best choices, but when they don’t, that is my real chance to teach them.
How do you allow students to have choice in your classes?