The state designs the curriculum of what is to be covered in a school year, but you and your students can design the implementation. Focus on what needs to be learned. When looking at the essential knowledge and skills required, break up elements into smaller parts that contain all of the required components of the lesson. This can be done with all categories. Allow the students to decide either in whole group by vote or by individual choice which direction to go.
Each grading period, after studying biography snippets of authors, I requested that students pick from one of five American authors in the year that familiarity with American authors was required.
My own children love when a teacher gives them choice. My son reports that one of his teachers offers him and his classmates the choice to either take notes or to devise games with the same information. According to him they don’t always choose games.
My daughter’s teacher allows them the discretion to record notes in their own way. She likes to color-coded Cornell. Note taking is now her favorite activity.
If one cannot deviate from assignments taught, possibly ask the students--with options available--sort of extension activities could accompany a particular subject matter. Make sure to allow for technology utilization and creative artistic suggestions. As long as extension tools allow for the student to express skills being learned or already learned the tool is valid.
Begin each semester with a personal inventory. The questionnaire can include thoughtful questions to summarize student likes and dislikes. It can also retrieve
information pertaining to home life and history. Students should affix this page near the front of their journals or notebooks and receive a perfect participation grade. When sitting down to plan, study their answers to assist with semester lesson planning.
A more orthodox version of asking is to pre-test students. They subtly show you what to include in your planning, by releasing what they know or what they don’t know. Begin school years, semesters, or even units with a good old fashion pre-test. People don’t know what they don’t know. Pre-tests or pre-assessments can take a myriad of forms. KWL graphic organizers or variations work just as well. What do you know? What do you want to know? What have you learned? Include students in your planning--even the ones with a small voice.
L - next week!
Mrs. Hanson (formally known as)