With three suggested principles on how to make that happen. Here’s the second:
2. Students must have a say in what the assignment will include and how they will complete it.
Although teachers traditionally take charge of creating and implementing classwork, young people benefit by contributing to the development of goals, expectations, and rubrics for assignments. Students who understand an assignment’s worth will want to invest in its development. The creative process can be as important as the final product; involving students in making process-oriented decisions can foster increased responsibility and passion for learning.
Students must be granted some autonomy in their own work; they should make substantive choices regarding such matters as what format their final products will take, what content they will address, and how they will complete assignments. When tasks are too perfectly prepackaged, learners are less likely to grapple with ideas in meaningful ways.
Rigorous assignments balance adequate guidance with enough freedom for kids to be creative, ask their own questions, and take risks.
This, this, a million times this.
How do you do this when your students will say that they don’t want to do anything at all? Serious question.
Try offering your students a list of options to choose from instead of offering an open-ended question. One of the options could be “student choice” that requires them to run it by you first.
This way doing nothing isn’t an option. Or, rather, it is — but it’s one with a consequence of a matching grade.
Just to piggyback on that: My Creative Writing Teacher let us pick our grade for half a semester in high school. We could literally tell her we wanted to get an A, B, C, D or F. There were three caveats:
- She would determine what you had to do to get that grade.
- Even though she picked the work, you could ask for changes, and you’d both agree to the final requirements in a written contract.
- You could not get a grade higher than the one you chose. If you said you wanted a “B” and ended up doing “A” work, you’d still get no higher than a “B” because that’s the grade you chose in your contract.
I felt very very proud of that “A.”