Kids Love Choice {in Math Class}

My students are strong-willed. This is a great thing! 

But it can sometimes be a challenge in the classroom. I've found that offering a choice works wonders for the kids who need come convincing. My students are more engaged when they feel they have a say in their learning. It's also less stressful on me.

There are a bunch of ways to offer choice in math. Here are 3: 

◾ Varying the activities on one day (stations)
◾ Varying the activities throughout the week
◾ Choice within one assignment

I like to vary activities throughout the week so that every student finds something interesting. I have found it difficult to build choice into every lesson, but offering a variety of learning experiences throughout the week seems to keep everyone happy.

Solving equations mix match
Solving equations mix-match activity

Building choice into a single assignment can be challenging, but can be done. For example, instead of solving all equations on a sheet, how about building your own equations and then solving them?

Solving equations spinner bingo game
Solving equations spinner bingo

A teacher recently left a blog comment on a post about choice in Algebra 2. I loved the idea because it allows students to work at their own pace:

1: Create sets of problems all worth different amounts of points. 
2: Spread the problems throughout the room.
3: Give each student a recording sheet.

Student Directions:
Students need to complete enough problems for their points to add to 20, whether it is 20 1-point problems or 5 4-point problems. 

What I love most about this idea is that students who are strong in a topic are challenged with harder problems while students who need more practice automatically get it by choosing easier problems that have lower point values. 

It's built-in differentiation!

Because my students are super anxious, I don't give a lot of exams. Instead, I vary our weekly activities and use them to assess.

Scavenger hunts (this one below is for domain and range) are great because they are self-checking, giving students instant feedback about their progress. 

Domain and Range Matching Activity {INEQUALITIES VERSION}

Some of my students would prefer to never get out of their chairs given the choice. I thought about them when making these partner scavenger hunt activities.

Pairs of students work together on their own unique problems that yield the same answers when solved correctly. 

Offering different types of activities, even on different days, I have found to be a great way to reach all students. 

One of my favorite ways to give students a feeling of choice is with Number Talks

Last year was the first year I have ever done Number Talks in my class and I'm wondering why I waited so long. They are awesome. 

Number Talks communicate to students that there are many valid ways to solve problems. We worked on percents with our Number Talks and every one of my students who offered to explain their thinking explained a totally different way to solve each problem. It was all so empowering. 

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