Do kids have a voice? The power of choice

imagesAs I continue to connect, learn, and grow, I have met some amazing educators.  I attended EdCamp Chicago this past October and had a career changing experience.  The energy was high, passion strong, and enthusiasm contagious!  These educators were taking ownership of their learning, and having fun doing it.  Discussions were rich and engagement was 100%.  It was something I had never seen before!  And then I saw it again last Wednesday…

The staff at my school decided to employ the EdCamp model at our staff meeting.  Sure enough, I observed and felt the same results: high energy, strong passion, and contagious enthusiasm.  It is no coincidence that rich discussions ensue and participants fully engage when we are empowered to take ownership of our learning.

Do we provide our kids these same learning opportunities?  Do we allow our kids to have a voice?  Do we grant our kids the power and responsibility of choice?  Do we empower them to take ownership of their learning and be active participants?

Administrators, do we model this for our staffs?  Do we empower our staffs and support and equip them with the resources and drive to engage our kids?

I have done some light research into 20 Time, and would love to hear others’ suggestions and/or experiences employing it.  I would also love to hear from staff and admin who employ EdCamp or other similar models to empower our educators and kids to learn.

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6 comments for “Do kids have a voice? The power of choice

  1. December 8, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Hello, Sam!

    As for educators trying this with staff, check out @MrChaceEGHS’s posts here: http://mrchaceeghs.blogspot.com/search/label/%23geniushour . (This is also a tab on the LiveBinder under “Supporting This Type of Learning.”) He’s got a at least four posts by now on what he’s trying and how he’s trying it. If you ask, he’ll say it’s still a “work in progress,” but I think all of our genius hour / 20% Times are a work in progress! Just keep tweaking, just keep tweaking…

    As for more educators, try the grade-level tabs on the LiveBinder: http://www.livebinders.com/play/play/829279?tabid=6f5c8753-5bbe-2533-6eef-45ce567ba965 Many High School teachers call this type of learning 20% Time (#20Time on Twitter), and it truly does take 20% of their time (usually one class a week).

    Keep checking the hash tags for updated information from those of us trying so very hard to give students choice in the classroom. Here’s my post defending Genius Hour – mostly because of the choice it’s brought: http://geniushour.blogspot.com/2013/09/genius-hour-has-gotten-lot-of-attention.html Sorry this comment is so long! Enjoy the learning, and good luck!

    • December 8, 2013 at 6:50 pm

      Wow, Joy, thank you for these resources! I will be sure to check them out.

    • December 14, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      Hi, Shana. I am sorry to hear about your daughter’s current experience. If one student feels this way, it’s two too many. I would like to see many of us educators put forth a dedicated effort to improving this for our kids and their educational experiences. Thank you for reading and sharing!

  2. December 17, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Hi Sam,
    I love the concept of 20% time for student learning, so much so that I started teaching an elective this year – My 14%. This semester I have 26 students engaged in some serious learning, all on subjects of their choosing. I did a lot of research online over summer as I built out the course and have been so happy with the results. As our semester is coming to an end, many of my students have asked if they can continue with the class. It is really the only time in their school day where THEIR choice runs their time. Are they always productive? No. But they are passionate about their topics, have learned so much from their own studying and reading, as well as from watching each other learn. Students have been focused on a variety of topics: robotics, cooking, vector graphics, programming, comic art, crafts, etc. You can see the structure of my class here, along with student blogs. https://sites.google.com/a/lasdk8.org/my-14/home

    I hope that this concept will make its way into content classes as well – students designing their own unit of study on a given topic – an easy first start.

    Best,
    Sandra

    • December 17, 2013 at 10:21 pm

      AWESEOME, Sandra! It’s fun to watch students take ownership of their learning and beamingly exhibit pride! Love the student blogs and your feedback to them. Thanks for reading this post and sharing the insight into the action of your teaching and learning!

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