Too Many Good Choices

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“Mrs. Parrish, you gave us too many good choices,” sighed Shayne as I walked by her at the end of the Literacy block. I turned to smile at her, but quickly realized she was actually serious and actually lamenting her very serious dilemma of having to select from various ways to show her learning! Shayne and the peers next to her were having an in-depth discussion about which option would best suit their learning strengths, demonstrate their knowledge of the novel and be “fun” to do (which apparently most options were!).

I smiled and said, “how EVER will you choose?”. This was met by more annoyed looks and another comment that there were too many “good choices”. I mustered up my most empathetic expression (it really wasn’t that empathetic at all) and left them to their discussion.

This whole conversation emerged out of an early morning planning brainstorm (while on my exercise bike, just saying!). While I was ‘spinning’ (that’s jargon for really serious exercise-bike-people, which I’m not – but I know the lingo!), I was reading George Couros book “Innovator’s Mindset”. At the time of reading the chapter about teacher Lisa Jones innovative Science teaching, I probably only thought to myself, “Oh that’s a nice story….” and “how many more minutes until my workout is done…”.

But, a half hour later when I was printing the exemplar for that morning’s Literature Circle work (for the role of Visualizer), I realized that the poster-format I had created wouldn’t be the best form for ALL students. What about the ones who wanted to create? or speak? or act? As I proofread my exemplar, I began asking myself some serious question.

Could they represent their knowledge of the novel in other forms?
Would I be able to fairly assess this knowledge?
How will they select the “best” option for themselves?

Against my tendency to just have them all do posters (which would be a lot easier to assess and would probably have gotten done over the weekend), I changed my plan and crossed my fingers it would work out.

Using the learning goal (see slideshow), we examined the poster exemplar on the SMARTboard. Students verbally noted their observations about the exemplar then created the success criteria as a whole group. Next, I read from a long list of “products” students could create to show their learning (list is courtesy of KPDSB). They (NOT ME!) identified products that would support visualization. They (NOT ME!) eliminated the ones that wouldn’t work! In the end, they had over 10 choices to select from (thus the ensuing dilemma and discussion). Quite honestly, it was their own fault they had so many choices! 🙂

The bell rang and they were still chatting about it. Their homework was to decide which form they would use and be prepared for Monday and Tuesday’s work periods. I’m looking forward to seeing their visualizations and hearing their thoughts about their novels. In fact, that may even be next week’s blog post. Stay tuned!

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