In my classroom, I integrated student choice whenever I could. We did reading workshop every Friday, when students read an independent reading book of their choice. Whenever we did a personal essay or literary analysis paper, I let students choose their own topics and ideas. I started doing I-Search papers, where students chose their own questions to answer and then searched for the answers by interviewing experts, fifteen years ago. Writing workshop was one of the best times of the year.
But in terms of the day-to-day nitty gritty of the class, I was the one who decided what happened.
Even though I always knew that the most valuable, meaningful, and successful portions of the class were when students chose their own questions, topics, or texts to study.
So why didn’t I integrate more student choice into my classes? Like everything else in teaching and in life, it’s complicated, and, to butcher a famous quote, teaching was what happened while I was busy making other plans.
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