Differentiation | Planning | Readiness | Interests | Learning Preferences | Strategies Alignment

Learner Voice and Choice is important if we want students to be engaged and have buy-in to their education. Think about how you prefer to learn new ideas. Whether it’s in a classroom or self-directed, the experiences are better if we have some input. If the content is explored through a lens of what we value, we may be more likely to push through when learning gets difficult. Job-embedded learning is prized because there is a sense of purpose.

Learner Choice

A core teacher practice is to give students two or more choices for how tasks will be completed or the direction that the learning experience might take. Students have some accountability because they get to choose from the options.

A quick and easy form of differentiation is to give students 2-3 choices. Make the experience rich by creating choices based on the intentional review of student academic data.

Learner Voice

Unlike choices, which the teacher creates, Student Voice is about the learner forming their own options. Voice is the higher level of accountability because students design their own learning experience. They know what interests them and what is meaningful to them.

One approach to developing student voice is to give three options. The first two are designed by the teacher. The third option is up to the student to design their version for doing the work. The student(s) must present their proposal to the teacher and show how it will meet the learning outcomes. The teacher may give their approval, recommend changes to get their approval, or send the student(s) back to design a new proposal. Within a set time-limit, students must either get their proposal approved or choose from the two options designed by the teacher.

Products – demonstrating understanding

Students choose the tools that they would prefer to use to complete the task. Some examples include making a video, recording a podcast, or composing a traditional paper.

Process – making sense of ideas

Students choose the tools or approaches that best help them make sense of the content. For example, after learning different note-taking approaches they use the one that they prefer. Allow students to work in a space that appeals to them or listen to music of their choice while working.

Example Strategies

  • RAFTs: Overview – Differentiated – Template – 3 Articles in One
    Student writers are given or identify a Role, Audience, Format, Topic, and Strong Verb related to the writing focus. Offer two or more options for students to choose from (choice), or have them create their own version (voice).
  • Learning Centers & Stations (learn more)
    Centers or stations are set up with different tasks. Learners move through each location to complete the work. With Interest-based Centers, students have choice on which stations they go to do the tasks. Another approach is for students to choose which tasks at the center that they wish to do or not do.
  • Open Topics
    Allow students to choose the topic to research or focus on for addressing the learning outcomes. In Writing and Literature courses, learners can choose the readings and what to write about. Social Studies and Science, students can choose the area of research or experimentation. For Mathematics, learners can decide on real world applications or create a new approach to solve problems.
  • Learning Menus (learn morevideo example)
    When you go to a restaurant, the menu will have at least three sections: Appetizers, Main Courses, and Desserts. Learning Menus have the same sections. The appetizers are warmups, the main courses are the tasks aligned to key learning, and desserts are enrichments after the main course is completed. Students can choose from different tasks in each section, just like in a restaurant the customer decides what to order off the menu.

Supporting Resources