Monday, July 9, 2012

Student Choice Leads to Creativity

I am a huge advocate for allowing students to have a choice in the methods and tools they use to convey their learning.  This gets away from the idea that lesson plans and assignments have to be scripted by the teacher and can be challenging for some to implement.  But the end results can blow you away and supports and encourages students to be creative.  With the teacher focusing solely on the learning objective and then getting out of the way, students can and will become more engaged because they are making their own choices and become more invested in their learning.  For some students, creating a slide deck may be the best option.  For others it may be a podcast, a digital storytelling project, a VoiceThread, a Glogster poster, or even a timeless diorama.  The options are limitless.  I believe that students that can take on a task, challenge, or problem and then choose their own way to demonstrate and communicate their solution or what they learned will far better prepare them for their futures than if they can simply follow directions.

I was fortunate to recently attend ISTE 2012 and was excited when I learned that there were going to be two Ignite sessions.  I quickly added them to my schedule and was not disappointed.  For those not familiar, Ignite presentations are exactly 5 minutes in duration during which the presenter talks while 20 slides are displayed for 15 seconds each.  The presenter does not control the slides as they automatically advance, which certainly results in fast-paced and energetic presentations.  I absolutely love this presentation style!

During the second Ignite session,  Ben Smith (@edtechben), a physics teacher from Pennsylvania, gave a great presentation about allowing students to have choice and how it leads to creativity.  The best part was that the entire Ignite session was recorded and posted so that even those that couldn't attend the conference can be inspired by the talks.  All of the presentations are worth watching, but if you only want to focus on the student choice and creativity presentation by Ben Smith, skip to the 44:00 minute mark in the video below.


Video on Demand: