Since I've taken on my new-er classroom, I've explored projects, play and choice. A Lot.
My favorite attempt was to completely open all the choices in the classroom during December and watch what happened. In the end, I would say it didn't work. But I loved trying.
It went like this:
- I would teach/We would discuss a mini lesson.
- There is usually some independent that is required around these lessons.
- After they completed their independent practice, they were free. Want to construct with Legos? Cool. Art project? You bet.
- After watching them in December, I noticed it was just very hard for some kids to engage even at all. So I went back to dividing up the morning and the afternoon with a few parameters.
Why just a few parameters?
Because I really believe in choice for kids. My own kids love to construct, research, try things out. They have learned some amazing things this way. I knew I wanted this spirit of autonomy in my classroom.
So I fashioned a menu for the kids to use when they are deciding what they would like to work on. Here's one we've been using recently in the afternoon:
These activities are selected based on student interest and topics we are covering in class. Because of my students this year, I really only have these guidelines:
- Choose what you want to work on.
- Stay with it. Try to work the whole time.
- Are you done? Check in with Mrs. Limback, let's pick something new together!
Guidelines, because my class is great at a lot! Currently, We are learning how to use persistence to stick with tasks for an amount of time.
Some books I love on creativity, choice, play, basically all the joy in teaching and learning:
How do you promote choice in the classroom?