Tools and support for student choice

In order for a student choice curriculum to succeed, teachers require the proper tools and level of engagement. When it comes to reading, my staff uses myON to ensure our students’ interests are met. Specifically targeted at our elementary schoolers, the digital library offers its readers the freedom to take their reading assignments into their own hands and personalize them to fit their interests and reading goals.

As we’ve experimented with student choice in a digital curriculum, we have tried to anticipate how education will change. A big part of that lies in providing the same digital engagement in our lessons that students would otherwise find recreationally or online. When students are engaged, they’re more focused, they participate more, ask more questions, and get more out of the lesson. Putting our kids in control of their education and using engaging technology builds upon the necessary skill sets our students need in all content areas, reading and beyond.

Go Street-Smart!

For an approach like this to work, it’s also essential to back up choice initiatives with a strong “street-smart” education. Through what we call digital citizenship, we not only teach our students to engage freely within a digital curriculum, but arm them with the skills to do so responsibly. These skills include everything from web browsing basics to developing strong media perspective and how to identify fake versus legitimate news sources.

This type of approach is adjustable and can be paired with an assortment of additional curriculum. As part of my district’s “No Place for Hate” initiative, we had a session in which we brought our kids together and had them Google their names to see what information of theirs was private and what wasn’t.

We don’t want the internet to seem like a dangerous place for our kids, just as we don’t want to approach device use as an outlet for bad behavior. Instead we need to educate students in this generation on how to use these tools properly.

When teaching Generation Z, it’s important to keep an open mind. They are the future, and it’s our generation’s responsibility to step out of the traditional box, to examine and rekindle (from an adult perspective) what the students want and need to succeed.

My advice: be true to their requests, you’ll get back as much as you give.

About the Author:

Dr. Royce Avery has more than 30 years of experience working with diverse populations across the Texas public education system. He received the Region 17 Education Service Center’s Outstanding Principal of the Year Award in 2006. Dr. Avery currently serves as the Superintendent of Manor Independent School District in Manor, TX.