Student Choice: Independent Novel Reading UPDATE

On April 30, Madeline Anderson, English Teacher at Gilmer High School in Gilmer ISD, guest blogged about how she is offering student-choice in book selection and project options (24 different ones!) given to her students as ways to demonstrate understanding.

As a follow-up to that entry, which propelled this blog over the 10,000 visitor mark, this post provides additional insight into those project options Mrs. Anderson affords her students.  She provides her students with the necessary components for their report, outlining the weighting of each aspect.  This communicates to her students the prioritized value of each element from their individually-selected text, such as theme and plot.

The optional products allow the students to demonstrate understanding in a format that suits their learning style.  If Mrs. Anderson would require a single method of assessment, she would reinforce barriers, such as language and background knowledge, that would restrict many of her students from demonstrating mastery.  Notice in the images below, Mrs. Anderson allows technology-based content, performances, artistic renderings, and geographical representations, as evidence of learning.

Scoring Rubric for project choices_Page_1

Scoring Rubric for project choices_Page_2

Scoring Rubric for project choices_Page_3

Scoring Rubric for project choices_Page_4


This choice-based opportunity in Mrs. Anderson’s high school English classroom exemplifies many aspects of the Visioning Document.  From student-choice fostered in the book selection to the 24 project options given as ways to demonstrate understanding, Mrs. Anderson is developing a transformed learning environment for her students.

Within Article II: The New Learning Standards we recognize the premise related to providing student choice as development of the whole child:

IIc. Learning standards should embrace development of the whole person to build students’ capacity to shape their own destiny as individuals and as contributing members of society.

Within Article III: Assessment for Learning we know students should be encouraged to demonstrate understanding in ways beyond scores on standardized tests:

IIIe. Assessment should not be limited to nor even rely substantially on standardized tests that are primarily multiple-choice paper/pencil or on similar online instruments that can be machine-scored.

For the latest in Mrs. Anderson’s class, follow her on Twitter: @MAnderson_reads.

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