Giving students choices

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When I came up with the idea of a class magazine for a group of teens/pre-teens, I only hoped it would actually happen. I was worried that the students would find the idea silly and not give it 100%. My class was made up of mixed abilities and even more mixed interest levels. This made it a challenge but the fun personalities of the students made it a fun challenge. We had several writing sessions on various topics ranging from writing a short story about a time machine, writing a review and even writing a Facebook status.

During all of these activities, I tried to emphasize the choices the students had. They could also choose to work alone or with a group. They could choose what to review- a book, film, video game etc. I wanted this to be their magazine. I let them choose to submit things handwritten or take them home, type a draft and email it to me. When asked about length, pictures and topics, I always encouraged the students to ask each other. Their magazine, their choice.

When it came time to put the magazine together, my classroom was exactly what I’d always dreamed of it being. I had all of the students working with smiles on their faces, so intent on what they were doing that they didn’t even notice or mind me taking pictures. Even more rewarding was watching them share their final product with their school principal. They were so proud and rightfully so!

For anybody who is struggling with tweens/teens, give them choices. Let them take on a little responsibility. Give them a chance to shine.

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