Ok, having a tweenie in the house brought my ears and eyes to the attention of the Teen Choice Awards on ABC Sunday night. This is the 14th annual show and I never new this existed, mainly because I haven’t been a teenager in eons (that word shows my age). However, after having to unglue my eyes from the tube due to uncontrollable gazing at the massive use of technology going on during the production, I felt obligated to say that this is what today’s classroom should be like. No, Justin Beiber or Zach Efron do not need to visit your class to keep the students engaged, but giving them a choice does.
I have always been a fan of self-paced project based learning mainly because it allows the learning to individualize his instruction based on his individual way of comprehending information. It gives them a choice in what they learn and how they learn it which in turn, makes learning more impactful. The role of the teacher should be to facilitate the process and serve as a guide and mentor in the development stages.
Years ago, when classroom management turned the methodological page to adapt this generation, the rage was about giving students a choice in what the rules of the classroom should look like. Students felt empowered because these where their rules, their consequences, their choice. I’m willing to bet that in classrooms where the teacher patiently facilitated the classroom according to those rules, the success rate was off the chart. That movement has digressed a bit, but that doesn’t change the truth. Why not let them text you an answer, there’s an app for that? Why not let them create a summary of the topic at hand in a 140 character tweet? Why not let them create to demonstrate mastery of a science lesson? Trust me, the reason why so many teenagers and preteens, (not my daughter of course) watched the show and performances was because they were giving a choice of who the winners of the coveted Surfboard award would be. They were also given a choice to how they viewed the show.
So, If a teacher at the end of each week puts out a survey to have students choose what they want to learn the next when, the order to learn it in, the method of delivery and how they will demonstrate mastery, I would be willing to bet that 100% of your students would tune in to watch to see what happens. Oh, and during instruction, give a chance to let you know how they feel. Feedback for the teacher is good too, given a choice.