I have unshakable faith in children. They always show me the way. ♥

Saturday, November 29, 2008

academic choice...

One of my teaching goals this year is to deepen my understanding of, my experience with, and my all around knowledge base with Academic Choice (one element of the Responsive Classroom). This element involves a three part process for children (planning, working, and reflecting) which builds upon children's natural curiosity and allows them a sense of autonomy as they make choices about their learning.

I've discovered that I'm pretty good at building Academic Choice into a culminating activity, a chance for children to showcase what they know. For example, just last week in my classroom we had Academic Choice time related to Benjamin Franklin. Children are expected to learn three specific pieces of information about him, so those were the three 'have to' elements of their work, but they were able to choose both the mode of representation as well as whether they showed other pieces of what they learned about him.

This was the planning sheet. Several children used the back to draw some of their ideas in the morning when they used this planning sheet. We planned and made our choices in the morning and used our time in the afternoon to get right to work. This way, children had some time to think about the work before they did it so they could have the full time for working.

This is the second year running that I've run these types of Academic Choice projects and I've always been really amazed at the depth of the students' work. My struggle is conceptualizing Academic Choice as an ongoing, daily activity. Children have a lot of choice in our classroom, but I want to figure out how to include all three componentsinto something that's more ongoing, rather than only with culminating activities.

As I try various things on this journey, I'll share them. Also, for those of you that are also part of the Responsive Classroom approach, what have you found helpful in your own journey with Academic Choice?