Offering Choice

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When I taught K-12, I often gave students a choice of assignments. It enabled students to take a personal interest in the topic, engaged students, allowed for creativity, and helped differentiate to accommodate learning styles. As a university instructor, I started wondering why this wasn’t done more at the university level. As an instructor in the School of Education, I found myself teaching “this is what you should do” and yet I wasn’t really doing it. So – I made the decision. Why not? Why not offer teacher candidates a choice of assignment activities? This semester I created “menus” for assignments in one of my courses with “dinner” (must-do), the “selection” (choose one for your choice) and “dessert” (optional resources that reinforce the work for the week.  CLICK HERE to see an example. I have found that the choice option has been well received. I know I certainly appreciate being offered a choice. Although we might not want to offer a choice all the time, and it wouldn’t work for all instances, with a bit of thought and creativity you can still achieve your objectives and offer a choice  at the same time. Here are a couple ideas:

1.  Offer a menu of assignment choices, as seen in my sample. I used S’More and embedded into our Moodle course for the week.

2. 2-5-8 List.  Give the directions that students must choose only 2 activities that add up to a total of 10 points. (Or choose 3 activities that add up to 15 points, etc.)

2 point activities – Knowledge & Comprehension

5 point activities – Application & Analysis

8 point activities – Synthesis & Evaluation

Under the activities, come up with assignments that fit under the specific categories of Knowledge – Evaluation. Basically with this option, students would have to choose 2 application and analysis assignments or one knowledge/comprehension and one synthesis/evaluation.

3. Tic-Tac-Toe Extension Menu: Create a tic-tac-toe board with assignments in each box. Ask students to complete the items in order to form a tic-tac-toe. Strategically place leveled assignments in the boxes. I have even seen a board with a “free choice” in the middle with students submitting a proposal form to the instructor. You might end up with a very creative assignment!

4. Baseball Game (Or another sports related theme)  Allow students to add up the assignments to made 100 points.

Singles – 10 pt

Doubles – 30 pt

Triples – 50 pt

Homerun – 100 pt

Again, strategically decide what would constitute assignments at each level.

How about you? Do any of you have another way that you offers students a choice when it comes to assignments?

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