It’s All About Options

We all want engaged learners.  As educators, that’s our ultimate goal.  Achieving said goal is not always as easy as it seems.

I have commited a grave error.  Today I actually looked in my mailbox at school and took out a book that has been sitting there for well over a month. 

It’s a rather large book produced by the Government of Alberta called, “Making a Difference:  Meeting diverse learning need with differentiated instruction.”  And it’s an amazing document.  So….my bad.  I was so busy that I let it sit and I shouldn’t have.

On page 95 of this document is a visual that breaks student engagement into 4 pieces:

Multiple Expression Options

  • text
  • graphic organizers
  • speech
  • drawings, illustrations, designs
  • physical manipulatives
  • multimedia
  • gaming or simulation events

Notational Options

  • spellcheckers
  • word predicition
  • calculators
  • wordbanks
  • story starters
  • idea/story web
  • outlining tools
  • none-taking guides
  • audio notes
  • electronic sticky notes

Collaborative Options

  • purposeful learning activities that can be shared with real audiences (I love that the SHARING part is included here.  Why create something that won’t be shared???)
  • opportunities of cooperative learning groups
  • virtual learning communities

Personal Choice Options

  • level of perceived challenge (and remember that this is going to be different for every student!)
  • context for exploring and pracitising skills and concepts
  • tools and strategies for information gathering and sharing

It’s important to note that these are in the framework of a circle.  This to me, implies they have equal significance and don’t exist exclusively from each other.  You could have a collobarative learning project to creat a story based on a story starter that requires a multimedia production.  It’s almost like a game of mix and match.

What I do like is that these are all referred to as “options”.  There is no longer one right way to teach a concept or one right way to show learning.

I said once before that just as we as teachers need options on our own professional learning, so do kids.  And if you’re teaching the same way you were five years ago….you’re dropping the ball.  It’s all about the options……


About Cherra-Lynne Olthof

I've been a middle school teacher for my entire career (which began in 2001). Like my students, I too am a life long learner. My goals include helping my students to achieve their goals, support them in their learning, and to encourage them to think "beyond the grade".
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