Every student is different. Everyone has their own special talents, strengths, and best ways to learn.
This is why when it comes to student learning giving students choice is so important and essential in the upper elementary classroom!
Differentiating student learning is a way to tailor and customize each student's experience at school so they can learn valuable (and necessary) information at their individual level.
One way to differentiate in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade is to give students choice in what they are learning.
3 Reasons Why Student Choice is Important
- It allows them to take ownership of their learning.
Allowing students to have autonomy of what they are learning helps prepare them to succeed in future years - such as middle school, high school, and beyond. Students would be expected to be more responsible as an adult - why not start early? Learning the skills to take ownership gives students the ability to be more independent in any subject.
- It allows them to show what they know with their strengths.
Remember the book reports of our day, where we got to pick a book to read and write a 2-page essay all about it? Not everyone was the best writer. Why not give students the chance to show learning with ways that best match their abilities? Students who are artistic and love to draw may love to illustrate a picture book or comic strip on the book they read. Giving students the choice to showcase their strengths fosters confidence and tailors their learning experience to one that makes it fun and enjoyable.
- It keeps students engaged.
The more students are given options, the less behavior problems and management issues in the long run. Students will be focused and engaged with what they are learning, making it seem (almost) like a game!
3 Ways to Give Students Choice During Reading Stations
Here are a few ways to give students choice in what they are learning during your literacy block.
1. Allow students to research topics of interest to them
Students love to learn more about people, places, or other topics interests them, and will be more engaged when they get the opportunity to do this in school!
Have students research a biography of a hero that means something to them, or a famous person they would like to learn more about.
Need graphic organizers for your next literary nonfiction research unit? These research writing pages are perfect for students in Grades 2-5 who are learning about biographies, autobiographies, or memoirs and can be used with any literary nonfiction text!
2. Have students respond to books of their choice
This can put a twist on the typical reading logs! Give students the opportunity to select books of their choice from home or from the classroom library. Have students read for 20 minutes and complete at least 2 responses about what they read. Then allow students to share their responses either as a whole group or in pairs.
This resource is designed for students in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade to respond to reading using 5 different menus. The questions are student-friendly and follow all levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. The menus are easy to implement and encourages independent thinking for all learners. Use for any book or text throughout the year. Perfect for independent centers, small groups, homework... the options are endless!
3. Let students showcase their reading project in different ways
Do you need students to complete an end-of-unit project or need a major grade taken? Let students complete projects by the strengths they have!
Rather than the typical book report or tri-fold project, you can let students be creative with guides to help them with ideas to make something amazing.
Want low-prep ways to allow for differentiation and student choice for any subject? Level up student projects with Enneagram choice boards! Give students the opportunity to show what they know based on their personality type! These choice menus are perfect for book reports, researching topics in science and social studies, project based learning, and more!
Differentiation in the classroom during reading centers doesn't have to dull or difficult. It can be simple, seamless, engaging, and fun!