With most of our country forced to either teach, or learn through Zoom, the opportunities to give students choice seem less and less. Back in the classrooms, our classrooms were student-led and our teaching was responsive to individual needs. Teachers are amazing, and are still providing those opportunities as much as they can, but our situation provides some limits.
In my district, teachers are teaching a whole group math lesson and a whole group ELA lesson. Then, each student is put into a small reading group and a small math group. When students aren’t meeting during one of these times, they’re expected to be doing some sort of independent work.
I’m part of an extremely large Facebook Bitmoji group and was inspired by a couple of posts that I came across and adapted it for me. For the idea below to work, you need to be able to navigate and use Zoom breakout rooms. Fortunately, they are super easy to organize and pop between while checking in with students.
One way to give students some choice in how they like to work is to utilize a choice board like mine below. After a whole group lesson, share this image with your class and have the type in the chat box which color room they would like to join during independent work time. Based on their responses, you can quickly form breakout rooms to accomodate their choices (if they choose yellow, it requires individual rooms so they are by themselves).
Providing students with choice, even with something as simple as how they want to work, can have a tremendous impact. Students begin to feel in control of their learning and begin to build autonomy. Having students choose if they would like extra time with the teacher, time collaborating with peers, or time working alone, it forces students to become reflective learners. They need to think about their own understanding of a concept and then decide what they need in order to be successful…a tough skill for kids.
Start small…try just two breakout rooms. As you and your students start to get more comfortable, you can always add more. Have fun!