An essential element of the personalized learning classroom is CHOICE. The definition I use for CHOICE is cobbled together from a variety of sources; take a look:
“Learners must have ownership and invest in their learning. Learning should appeal to individual interests, strengths, and needs as well as enable one to develop and manage self. Students are provided options in all aspects of the learning; this may include co-owning decisions about content, process, product and/or assessment.”
If you spend any time in our room, you will see CHOICE all around. From self-chosen novels to seating, learners are empowered to make good decisions about their learning. Case in point, this trimester I introduced “The Old Geezer Club”. Wanting to encourage students to read “older” books, this club requires members to read a minimum of 2 books written prior to 2000. (Ouch…I feel so old!) Imagine my surprise when the majority of my homeroom said “yes!” to joining the club. Mind you…there are no huge rewards for joining this group; the reward is the feeling of belonging…being part of something.
Time travel with me to the beginning of March:
Sitting down to plan for the third trimester, I considered requiring all of my students to read two books published before 2000; I couldn’t bear the thought that they might graduate from high school never having met Maniac Magee, Matilda or Sam from “My Side of the Mountain.” But that small voice inside me whispered…”remember…experience…create an experience” and “The Old Geezers Club” was born. What will we do in this club? I dunno. I’m just a passenger on this journey…same as my students. Excitement. Joy. Passion. Glee. That’s what I heard today when I asked who was joining the club. No, I cannot guarantee my students will become better readers because of this one experience; but wanting to do something versus being told to do something is a powerful way to cultivate a love for learning.