Using Student Choice and Teachable Moments to Increase Student Understanding and Motivation

Additional examples of responsiveness and flexibility in the classroom help me align with teacher criteria. For me, it’s the element of persistence most specifically. My high school Special Education students often need material to be explained and manipulated in a variety of ways, so these additional strategies go into my arsenal of options and allow me to persist until the material finally clicks with the student.

This persistence relates to a situation in which I can better modify to increase student learning and engagement. In the event that an instructional activity is not working, I can first increase my ability to assess to discover that its not working in the first place. I will do this by reinforcing class routines so that interspersed assessment time is expected and more easily managed. I can also adjust the pace of the lesson, and more often than not for me that is to slow the lesson down and move with more intention and patience. This monitoring of pace is easier when I start with the end in mind, because as long as I keep an overall goal in my focus I can adjust the pace to make sure I’m still keeping the activity headed toward that goal.

I can incorporate student choice to increase student engagement in an upcoming lesson by allowing students to choose the area of the classroom they would like to complete the initial bell ringer activity. They can choose their desks, the bean bag chairs near the window, the cushioned chairs, or the computers at the back of the classroom. My students appreciate being given the opportunity to be independent and go to a place that makes them feel comfortable.

I’ll incorporate an upcoming school musical production into my classroom practice. My students frequently address transitioning to work after graduation, so prior to the musical we’ll discuss all of the different roles that are required to perform and produce a musical. I’ll guide students to relate this to a modern workplace where many people each contribute to the success of the business in unique ways.

Photo: Alexandr Baranets

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