Student Choice, Student Voice

Photo credit: Sky Druffel


I am continuously amazed at my fifth grade students. Today we had an insightful discussion on how they learn best. An overwhelming majority talked about choice.

Our district has a new GVC (Garenteed and Viable Curriculum) this year for language arts. Our current unit focuses on how readers integrate information from multiple texts on the same topic. In this unit, the topic and texts are about grizzly bears. 

I gave my students choice on the texts, maps, and videos to work with from the provided resources, but it was still like pulling teeth to get students to put much effort into their work. I heard a lot of moans and groans.

After three days of this, I decided to ask why this was so hard and unmotivating. The unanimous response, “We wish we could pick the topic, at least from a list of choices.” A great discussion continued on how to do this. I thanked the students for their honest responses. 

I was reminded, once again, just how important it is to our students to have choice. This enables them to take pride in their work, motivates them, and helps students internalize their learning. I was also reminded of the importance of student voice. Listening to them, involving them, planning with them, is one of the most powerful things teachers can do. How do you offer choice? How do you facilitate student voice?


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