Sunday, 8 December 2013

Voice and Choice: Encouraging Student Engagement

When students are truly invested and engaged with their work they can produce some amazing and creative results. As superintendent, I do not get to work with students as much as I would like. As a former English teacher, I've remained connected with front line teachers in both our local secondary school and the district's gifted program, and frequently I get invited in as a guest instructor. The changes I've seen in English instruction are exciting! Increasingly students are being granted opportunities to engage with the curriculum in ways that allow them to express their own voice and choices, and that bring new creativity and life to long established curriculum.

Recently, I was invited to a Lit 12 class studying "Paradise Lost".  Teaching Milton's sweeping 50,000 word epic poem can be a daunting challenge. Engaging with it from a teen aged perspective can be even more so. However, through the use of choice and voice project suggestions, members of the class were able to demonstrate their understanding and appreciation of the work's form and content through such diverse means as graphically illustrating the cohorts of angels, producing a "Paradise Twittered" feed, a Youtubed video claymation version or creating travel brochures for the poems key settings. The projects maintained high degrees of academic rigor but also allowed the students to display their strengths, use multiple intelligences and simply have a little fun while delving deeply into a prescribed work.

Offering voice and choice turns students in "expert learners". At their website personalizelearning.com UDL expert Kathleen McClaskey and creative learning strategist Barbara Bray offer an excellent overview of the who is an expert learner and suggest that "the more educators give students choice, control and collaborative opportunities, the more motivation and engagement are likely to rise."  The expert learner becomes someone who sees education as something they do for themselves rather than something that is done for or to them.  The Universal Design for Learning or UDL perspective for expert learners is for them to be: "resourceful and knowledgeable, strategic and goal oriented, and purposeful and motivated" (For more on UDL see CAST's website at cast.org/udl/)

Referenced in the BC Edplan, UDL is gaining increasing exposure and support within our district. Promoted, modelled and supported by our District Learning Services team, UDL works for all grade levels. Giving greater voice and choice and be particularly valuable for senior grades where student motivation to develop interests in complex curriculum may have begun to fade. Getting students to engage and have fun with their learning just makes sense. Giving students greater voice and choice in their learning can only enhance efforts to ensure that they all become expert learners.
"The more educators give students choice, control, challenge, and collaborative opportunities, the more motivation and engagement are likely to rise. - See more at: http://www.personalizelearning.com/2012/10/the-expert-learner-with-voice-and-choice.html#sthash.tSCjavj6.dpuf
"The more educators give students choice, control, challenge, and collaborative opportunities, the more motivation and engagement are likely to rise. - See more at: http://www.personalizelearning.com/2012/10/the-expert-learner-with-voice-and-choice.html#sthash.tSCjavj6.dpuf
"The more educators give students choice, control, challenge, and collaborative opportunities, the more motivation and engagement are likely to rise. - See more at: http://www.personalizelearning.com/2012/10/the-expert-learner-with-voice-and-choice.html#sthash.tSCjavj6.dpuf

1 comment:

  1. Its really true with our voice we can choose our desire things. A person which unable to describe its wish, he cannot get their desire thing. If you need tips and manners to how to get desire things come at college papers to buy and read desire contents.

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