Student Voice & Choice

Definition 

The term "Student Voice & Choice" was developed as part of the democratic schools movement over 30 years ago. It refers to a set of interconnected ideas related to positive youth development, motivation, and engagement theory, grounded in the belief that students have wisdom about their learning needs and interests, and it's essential to give this wisdom a central place within the school context: both as a mechanism for listening to students' voices as an end in itself, and as the means or driver for creating educational programs that allow students to make their own choices related to their learning path.

Features 

  • Personalization

Designer's Tips 

Students entering middle and high school have rarely experienced "voice and choice" in their previous schools. As a result, they can often be resistant to the concept, viewing it as a situation in which the adults do not know what they are doing or are abdicating their responsibility to educate. In order to help students begin to enjoy the power of their voice and choice, it's helpful to establish routines and practices that scaffold student learning. For example, at Carpe Diem, in Cincinnati, students choose the courses they want to undertake. During a March visit, a student shared that she had taken and received "credit" for 2 online science courses. She didn't have any other credits, but the school's priority was that she exercise "choice and voice" in mapping her path to gradution. The student had just decided to take on higher-level math classes so that she could take physics in the fall.

Tips for a Short Implementation Time-Line 

In a personalized mastery-learning program, students would be excercising considerable choice and would need to learn to become strong advocates for their choices. In a short time-line it's not always possible to create a broad array of opportunities for this. For example, if you purchase a contract with an online curriculum provider, student coursework will be limited to those courses; or if teachers develop their own courses, students will be assigned to a set scope and sequence, especially in a small school with limited staff members. Under these circumstances it can be helpful to look for "enhancement" opportunities for student choice and voice, that still build capacity and engagement. For example, at the EPIC schools each Advisory takes repsonsibility for facilitating the School-wide Morning Meeting for a full week. They plan and implement games, activities and discussions for the whole school, using their daily Advisory period to plan the sessions. Over the course of a year, each Advisory has had the opportunities to facilitate many meeetings.
Curated Resources: This collection of resources from the field includes models and exemplars, as well as “DIY” guidance to facilitate your exploration of this term. 

Memoir Course & Module Overviews

Description 

This model performance-based course, emphasizes is organized around a set of formative and performance assessments that support students in undertaking a deep exploration of the genre of memoir. The course was designed as student-facing, so that students can move at their own pace. This link takes you to a Course Overview, the 3 Module Overviews, a Sample Lesson and a Performance Task on "Photo Writing."

Authors 

Catherine Ullman Shade, Antonia Rudenstine

Resource Type 

  • Document

Publishing Organization 

reDesign

Type of Organization 

  • reDesign

Terms 

Blended Learning
Flexibly-Paced Learning
Self-Paced Learning
Student Voice & Choice
Learning Assets
Modules
Units

Making Mastery Accessible: Creative Uses of Time in School--Slideshow

Description 

The school calendar and schedule remain immutable features in almost all communities. Finding new ways to collaborate with community organizations, and allow students to undertake legitimate learning outside of the schoolhouse remains extremely challenging for district schools. Within the schoolhouse, we 40-50 minute learning periods remain the norm, with individual teachers assigned to groups of students who have been organized by age or ability.

Authors 

Antonia Rudenstine

Resource Type 

  • Presentation

Publishing Organization 

reDesign

Type of Organization 

  • reDesign

Terms 

Flexible Modular Schedule (Flex-Mod)
Flexibly-Paced Learning
Grouping Plan
Student Agency
Student Voice & Choice

Maine Dept. of Education Center for Best Practice

Description 

The Maine Center for Best Practice houses a curated collection of case studies, videos, and other resources drawn from schools across Maine.

Resource Type 

  • Website

Publishing Organization 

Maine Department of Education

Type of Organization 

  • Government Organization

Terms 

Student Information System
Learning Opportunities - Extended
Anywhere-Anytime Learning
Student Voice & Choice

The Expert Learner with Choice and Voice

Description 

In this blogpost, Bray and McKlaskey describes the qualities and actions of expert learners. At the heart of their paradigm is the belief that student voice and choice are absolutely fundamental to becoming an empowered, effective learner. This post provides a brief overview of the paradigm shift from teacher-centered to learner-centered that must occur for students to exercise voice and choice. Designer's might find this helpful to share with teachers who are unfamiliar with this paradigm.

Authors 

Kathleen McKlaskey & Barbara Bray

Resource Type 

  • Blog Post

Publishing Organization 

Personalize Learning: Transform Learning for all Learners

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Student Agency
Student Voice & Choice
Personalized Learning