Democracy

Developing Autonomy and Positive Orientation through Choices Students become more engaged and more task-focused when they are trusted to make responsible decisions. Allow students freedom to make choices about their learning. If students have freedom to make choices then they will maximize their learning experiences.
Choice Choice Choice Choice Choice Choice generates curiosity and adventurous thinking. creates momentum. allows for more in-depth inquiry. encourages independence and builds self-esteem. makes learning matter for kids. encourages metacognition and reflection.

Brad Buhrow & Anne Upczak Garcia. “Ladybugs, Tornadoes, Swirling Galaxies.” Portland: Maine, 2006.

Trust students to choose work locations
Give students a choice about where they can learn. After assigning a particular task, teachers can let students choose where they will complete their set task. This may be in the library, a common shared room or somewhere other than their usual assigned desk. Students develop a sense of responsibility when they decide where to work. Elementary teachers may need to ask students to choose from a list of possible options. Teachers typically set explicit time limits for completion of the work and outline specific criteria for success.

Trust students to choose tasks
Teachers can encourage responsible decision-making by trusting students to choose from a variety of academic tasks. Not all the students in the class have to be working on exactly the same

assignment at the same time. Provide a variety of learning options to students and let them decide on what they do. This allows them to work on something they are excited about and honors them as learners, which builds trust and independence. Give students two or three learning tasks to choose from and have then decide on what they work on. Telling students that they have to work on something out of compliance has no where near the same effect as letting students choose a task that they connected to and interested in.

Trust students to choose how to use their time
Give students a choice in what they want to do. Show students that they too have a say in their learning. Allow students to decide on what they want to do during those odd periods in the schedule. Brainstorm some options about what students want to do and the teacher becomes the observer, the ‘kid watcher’. Such an experience as this provides an opportunity for the teacher to observe how students collaborate, cooperate, communicate, consolidate, connect and commit to their learning. Set aside a time once a week and outline a few tasks that students could accomplish during that time. Clearly explain and describe the criteria to succeed and to achieve their learning goal. At the end of that time, the teacher and students can examine how much the students accomplished. For the students who did not complete their task the teacher and student can conference on how to better manage time to be more effective and organised.

Trust students to choose how to express their understanding
Trust students to share and show their learning in their own way. Provide options for students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding through their strengths. Teachers who know their students and students who know themselves as learners can be more effective when expressing their understanding. Using multiple intelligence is an excellent way for students to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Once students know how best they learn, they can then share their work accordingly.

Trust students to choose evidence
Give students a choice in how they show their understanding and knowledge for portfolios and conferences. Give students freedom in what they include in their portfolios to share and demonstrate the learning process they experienced. Evidence reflects students’ strengths and weaknesses.

Trust students to choose their audience
Let students choose their audience and expand the number of people to further build a community of learners. Depending on what students are learning and their skill set trust that they can select certain people from the community to support them and share ideas and thoughts. Use the people within a school and ask those people if they know other people who know people if they can contribute their expertise. Open the door and invite as many people who are willing to share their personal experiences and knowledge with students.

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