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Student choice

Andrea introduces the idea of how improving student ownership can be achieved.
One way of planning appropriate access to the learning that can also help increase student motivation is to have a menu of tasks. Drawing on the key principles discussed earlier in the course, we would want to see the work getting cognitively more difficult so that the students continue to be challenged. The students can choose or the teacher can direct the students to the appropriate starting point, having done some diagnostic assessment. One idea to structure this menu of tasks is to have a pyramid of learning. The teacher could ask the students to choose which level they feel they need to work at or direct them to the one they should start with.
This structure shows fewer activities as you progress up, however, they increase in terms of the level of demand of the work and build on the ideas below. If the teacher is worried that the students may choose the easier options, then they could say that everyone has to complete the top task and choose how many of the lower tasks they would like to attempt.
Lower-level tasks could form part of what the students do at home. And then, they work at the higher levels during the lesson. Then the teacher is there to help and support them. We will see in the next step how teachers have managed this approach to differentiating for learning in their classroom.

In this video, Andrea suggests a strategy to increase student ownership, motivation and learning by allowing the students to move forward in their learning from the point they are at.

If used well this approach can exemplify our key principles from Week 1 and help us to support and challenge all students to achieve the highest levels of learning.

The strategies underpinning this idea are:

  • Having a menu of tasks linked to progressive learning intentions
  • Working with students to identify their appropriate starting points

The menu of tasks we are suggesting is a “pyramid of learning” [DOCX] [PDF]:

Pyramid of learning

In the next step you will see Kate R using a pyramid of learning with her class. We will ask you to observe and reflect on how she implemented it and consider ways in which you could adapt and use this idea.


What do you think the potential challenges and benefits of giving students a choice of activities are?
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