For the past two months I have been working on integrating more choice and self-reflection in my classroom. Something I have lost site of as I gone through the in's and out's of my days as an educator.
I decided its about time I brought this back into the classroom. In art, students to learn the Principles of design. To authentically learn the principles of design (or any visual art terminology for that matter) I have realised this is a four-step process. Students must recognise the vocabulary word as art specific terminology (1) , define the word (2), visually identify (3), and intentionally apply the terminology in their art making process(4).
However, I began to ask myself, do students need to know all of this terminology right now- or can they choose which terms they want to focus on based on their needs. Studies show the human brain has three networks: Strategic (How), Affective (Why) and Recognition (What), and all of these work together. But this is where is stops, and learner variability resides. Once recognising there is difference in the individuals brain, a difference in learning opportunities should be devised by the teacher (and this is where choice comes into play- even in something as simple as definition selection).
When students have choice- there is personal "buy-in" on their learning investment.
After a series of inquiry based lessons and diagnostics, students begin to discover their areas of strength and areas of growth. They began to set learning goals (based on choice) on a student-established rubric, and self-assess every class on their academic progress.
Students choose the definition they want to focus on and share/reflect about, the only goal is to obtain a level 4 on the rubric by the end of the unit. The journey of how they would like to get there is up to them. My role is to support their choice, structure learning opportunities, and hold students accountable as they work towards their learning objectives.