Easing Into Choice
Quick Post Alert!
This thought popped into my head this morning during one of my 1st grade classes. I think one of the biggest things that gets discussed among TAB and Choice teachers is what age it is appropriate to start giving full choice.
My first and foremost opinion is ALWAYS do what's best for you. You know your students, your classroom, and your district better than I ever will so make the decisions that suit you!
That being said, there are obviously differences in development between grade levels. For me, the system that has worked the best is to keep full-choice in 2nd-6th grade and stick to a more traditional curriculum for my kinders and 1st graders.
I think that kindergarten and 1st grade are a great time to build skills and lay the foundation so when they are "set free" in 2nd grade they already have an arsenal of ideas, skills, and knowledge to propel them forward.
But that doesn't mean there isn't room for some choices in the early years! Something I do that is SO easy, but has a huge impact is offering Free Draw to students who have finished a project before their classmates. (As much as I wish that they would all finish at the exact same time, that is just a fantasy!)
Free Draw is simple. I just put out scrap paper and students can choose a drawing material to create whatever they like. It's not a huge choice, but it's something. It's not me telling them what to draw or what medium to use. These small choices start to condition their brains for making bigger choices in the future.
And they LOVE IT! They love this unrestricted time because they aren't being told what to do or what to make. That's what choice is all about!