The further I stray from giving my students choice, the worse their products become. Conversely, the more choice I give them, the better their contributions become. You would think I would remember that but I don’t. We recently completed a research unit, a unit that is always met with a resounding, ‘Oh, no!” from all but a few of my 7th graders. (I have a few who would do a research product for every free choice writing all year but that’s a posting for another day.) For them; Research = Boring.
This year, we decided to tie in college and career readiness with our research. Which college or career are you considering? Make that choice the focus of your research. Our counselor had just completed a career survey with every 7th grader so that was a great starting point. We added a college match search and we were ready to launch.
The twist came with who they were doing this project for, in other words, audience. It wasn’t going to be me or their parents, it was going to be each other! They got extra points for creativity so we had long discussions about what that looked like. They also had to ‘engage the audience’ which prompted a long discourse from them on every teacher who doesn’t do that…! The final presentation would be a Gallery Walk. Students would set up their projects and their classmates would visit and leave a sticky note compliment. Here are some examples of their final products:
It’s amazing what a little voice and choice can do!