At this point in the school year with 3 weeks to go until summer, I am trying to immerse my students in learning that pulls everything we discussed, learned, explored into one full circle. I am a huge advocate for choice in my classroom, but I have shifted from total free choice to focus free choice.
I think about "free choice" differently after several years of teaching. I want my students to choose a topic that they are interested in to learn more; however, I am not sure learning about their favorite video game or researching the height of the Demon Drop at Cedar Point constitutes higher thinking. After all with the internet, most questions can be answered with a click of a finger or a google of a search. I have organized "free choice" differently the last few weeks of school.
I asked my students what were some of the important "thinking" strategies we have focused on this year, we brainstormed a list. At the top of the list: vocabulary, main idea/supporting details, compare & contrast, cause/effect, predictions and #1 was evidence for your thinking.
As I read this wonder work, I was intrigued by the opening sentence " because when I go out to eat I usually get chicken fingers, and I learned 3 new facts." I was pleased how they chose to create their own compare contrast chart with textual support.
I was thrilled to see a math connection with"data" because that idea did not make our top list of strategies, yet this students wrote all about data and sloths? Who would have thought to compare humans to sloths-not me, but how creative. So as you wind down your school year, think about "free choice" along with allowing your students to explore Wonderopolis. It is an excellent site for your students to be aware of before summer vacation rolls into the picture.