Monday, October 7, 2013

What's your Favorite Color?

After interviewing for a  teaching position, at a school known for its college prep courses and commitment to excellence, I was told, "Your lesson was just too elementary."  I thought to myself, how could that be?  I did this activity as an undergrad education student.  Students created leveled questions to represent comprehension, analysis, and application after finishing a classic novel by Mark Twain.  They participated in a "silent discussion"--others name it "chalk talk"--in which they posted, answered, and debated each other's leveled questions.

What is elementary about this?  Apparently, the part of the lesson that was elementary was allowing students to write in a colored marker of their choice.  Really?

I immediately went to a former professor with my dilemma, "What it really that bad?"  She quickly responded, "Students should always have choices!"

To this day, I try not to take the criticism personally, and continue to give students choices.  Every student interprets learning and presents knowledge differently.  It would be unwise to give a fully multiple choice test without allowing students to express knowledge in writing, or even verbally.

We can all relate to this idea.  Some of us enjoy being "lectured at" while others enjoy group discussions, videos, physical movements, or artistic representations.  Therefore, we should be providing students with choices.  Allowing students to choose their favorite colored marker is not elementary, but rather allowing students to express some personality and individualism.  Learning is not a one size fits all model, but individualistic and unique.  As educators, it is important to include students in their learning; encourage ownership and initiative.  Impress upon students that their education in in their hands, in their control, and learning is ultimately their choice.

Choices can include anything from colored markers to presentation avenues, but most importantly students should always feel that they have a "say" in how they learn and how the express their learning.

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