Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Entry #3 - Open Entry

I received a variety of responses to my discussion question for Chapter 2 of Hick's (2009) text. During this question, I wanted to focus on student choice. My question read as follows:

"While some elements of our curriculum require us to engage all students in similar topics... research and writing can also be self-directed based on students' own inquiry and choice in topics" (Hicks, 2009, p. 17).
What opportunities do you have as the teacher when you offer your students choices in reading and writing? What challenges are you faced with when you offer student choice in your classroom?

Before receiving responses, and when reflecting on this question, my mind went to my current classroom. I am teaching in an ideal (in my opinion) teaching environment. I am working for a childcare facility teaching Kindergarten both half and full day. When I started the program, I was given nothing to work with. I designed the curriculum, the curriculum map, the standards, etc. During the design process, feeling overwhelmed was quite an understatement, however looking back I am realizing what an opportunity it has been to have my own choices as a first year educator. I was able to pull from everything I have learned in graduate school as well as under grad and make choices based on those learnings.
As I made choices for myself and my students, I quickly realized what was going to work and what was not. Unfortunately, since I had no one to tell me these things ahead of time, it was all a trial and error experience. Although, that may not have been such a bad thing. I was forced to learn quickly from my own mistakes and reflect every second of every day. These reflections helped me to become a stronger, more purposeful educator and help my students grow as well.
I think student choice can be related to my first year teaching experience. It is the hardest thing for me to do as a teacher is let students choose something that may not work out as they planned. For this reason, I think choice needs to be limited for students to learn the most from it! For example, my kindergartners get 15 minutes of D.E.A.R. time everyday, to choose texts that they want to. However, I limit their choices by giving them a shelf of books I know they will be successful in 'reading'. 

To be perfectly honest, I have noticed that giving students choice almost makes more 'work' (and I use that term loosely) for the educator. What I mean by this is it takes more preparation, anticipation, and reflecting to allow students to make their own decisions in the classroom rather than making those decisions for them. It takes a purposeful, well organized teacher to be able to anticipate student choices and decisions and use those to work in the classroom. 

Overall, the Hick's (2009) text as well as the technological tools we have learned about in this class have given me such a different outlook on student choice in my classroom. I now have the ability to give my 4 and 5 year olds choices that I did not know how to do before. This has increased motivation tremendously in one of the most important grades of their school career!!

1 comment:

  1. Shawna, I realize that you had not completed this entry. One suggestion I will make is that you keep the focus on you rather than the general "educator" as work through what it is you need to know and be able to do to create successful writing environments for your students.