Monday Success: Student Choice and Teacher Dictatorship

Oct 28, 2013 by

PLEASE SHARE YOUR OWN SUCCESS STORIES!  E-mail me with examples of things that have worked and things that haven’t… all can be good examples for other teachers to learn from as we continue to implement technology into our classes.
Today’s Monday Success focuses on a problem that we ourselves have created: Teacher Dictatorship.  Students are used to being told what to do so when the freedom to choose is granted, it is hard for them to accept  it or trust us.   One low-tech solution to this issue comes from a teacher that does a lot of amazing things in her classroom.  I also use this type of activity in my classes (in fact, I tell them they can use any tool EXCEPT PowerPoint) as well and have found it to be extremely effective.
“The lesson focused on assigning a country to analyze including culture, beliefs, music, art, etc.  How the students presented the information was left completely up to them, however, I did provide a suggestion list including some of the following tools:
There were other suggestions as well. When it came time to present, 98% of students did a PowerPoint and the other 2% presented using Prezi.  When I asked the students why they said that PowerPoint was at the top of the list which obviously meant that was what I wanted.
So, fast-forward to the the next time I did the lesson.  This time I wrote a variety of options on sentence strips.  I mixed them up and included blank ones as well.  As students walked in to class, I handed them a strip and told them to go put it somewhere on the board.  The put them all over and in any direction- some even sideways and upside down.  I just left them posted for the day.  The  next day I gave the assignment and, when it came time to present, I had a lot more diversity of projects.  I attribute that to the fact that it was no longer ‘my’ list, it was a collection of options from them.”

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  1. I have offered similar choices with my student projects and had great success. I know that if they all use PowerPoint, then their presentations will sadly all look the same. (On an unfortunate note, SlideRocket is no longer free. It was one of my favorite tools to offer students, but it has been bought out and no free accounts are offered.)
    I blogged recently about another way to give students choices — and it teaches them valuable tech skills at the same time: http://teacherwrite.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/369/

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