Elements of control

In my previous post on child-led teaching projects, I spoke briefly about perceived control and happiness being directly linked. The ‘teach someone something’ idea is still very much a work progress, but sometimes I need to remind myself that there are small ways to introduce elements of choice and, therefore control, into a classroom that don’t require a ‘spare hour’ or big break from the timetable.

Could you…

  • let children decide who to work with?
  • give children a choice of topics to choose from?
  • allow children to decide the mode of output of a final piece of work – poster, presentation, short film, website, scrapbook, model, blog post, a combination of the above or something entirely different?
  • ask children where they would like to work?
  • challenge children to plan how they are going to make a project happen and what resources, materials and tools they will need?

I am trying all these things with our latest topic, which is all about natural disasters.Today, the children grouped themselves, chose what type of natural disaster to focus on, decided how they would present their final project and planned what they would need over the next few weeks as well as what to bring in for the next lesson. They were given some guidelines about some things they must include such as an explanation as to what causes their chosen natural disaster, where they occur and famous examples, but apart from that it’s very much up to them. The buzz in the classroom was undeniable.

How do you introduce elements of control in your classroom?

One comment

  • I very often let the children in my class choose where they sit and who they work with. Having tried this at the beginning of the year, I found that they were much more enthusiastic and creative with the task presented to them if they were working with a friend. This has proved especially effective when children have produced joint entries for the 100 Word Challenge as they usually have the same interests as the person they’re working with, even if their writing levels are completely different.

    The layout of my classroom is such that children can choose where in the classroom they work. Again, they’re more willing and able to do the work given to them if they’re comfortable in their position and surroundings.

    I am quite strict, however, if certain pairs/groups don’t work out. If children prove to me that they are unable to work together effectively and choose the spend the time messing around, they lose the right to choose their partner the next time. I only do this once, as I want the children to be able to make the decisions for themselves that it’s not a good idea to work with a certain person. With some children, this takes more training than others, but it has worked with me!

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