Do Students WANT Choice?

I often wonder…do students WANT choice? When I give students the opportunity to own their learning, many choose the easiest option.  We live in an era of nothing but options.  The tools change before we have time to master. Learning is fast and furious. Goodbye teaching hello facilitating.  Sometimes I feel it’s impossible to keep up.  Do students feel this way? Is it easier to write a report on Cheetahs in a Google doc, print it out, and turn it in then to create a GreenScreen video on Cheetahs, share the link and share it out in a blog post? Does the choice of typing a report vs creating a video on Cheetahs overwhelm?

Learning can sometimes be hard work.  I listened to my daughter coaching 6 year olds on how to do the butterfly kick.  She asked them, “Is this hard work?” They all chimed in with a resounding, “YES”.  Her reply to them was yes this is hard work but you need to learn how to do this kick before you can master this stroke.  They may not have liked it but in the end they were all swimming across the pool because they had learned the kick.

It made me think about the students who don’t want to put in the hard work to #becomebetter.  You know why? Because it’s HARD WORK to do something uncomfortable or to push yourself. We as teachers are sometimes no different than our students. The easy route of “sit and get” PD is sometimes preferred over flipped or blended PD.  Why? Because flipped/blended PD requires work, sometimes HARD WORK. No one is telling you what to do or how to do it.  Isn’t it easier to come to training, sit in your chair, teacher/facilitator feeds you the info, then you are on your way? Easy, right?

I say we must choose to move outside of our comfort level.  We must push ourselves to #becomebetter.  Why? Because modeling the “hard work” for our students is necessary.



4 thoughts on “Do Students WANT Choice?

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  1. Melanie, you’ve got me thinking… again. You are so right: You can’t replace HARD WORK. Maybe it’s possible that too many choices spoil all of us learners and further condition us to always choose the path of least resistance? There is “working smarter–not harder,” but there is definitely something to be said for fostering and promoting an enduring work ethic. Sometimes, I’m fearful that excessive options, possibly enhanced by technology, damage our core values and character (perseverance) education opportunities. Or, has the “work ethic” landscape changed nowadays? I’m still thinking. Great post! Sincerely, Kyle


    1. Thanks Kyle for your response. I try not to limit the options for students. I even like to give them an “other” category for them to create something I haven’t thought of. What I do think is sometimes we limit our students. Personally I think we should be giving our students more choices. It’s easier to be told what to do. We need to break out of this model of one size fits all and give students the choice to #becomebetter.


  2. Great post, Melanie! Good question. Do students want options? I think some do and I also believe some don’t know how to handle options and they take the easy way out. Choice is important. The word that comes to mind is exposure. Children being exposed to the butterfly stroke is a good thing. Children being exposed to swimming is a good thing (as afraid as they may be). When we deprive students of choice we limit their options to what we think was best for them. I started making videos around the age of 30. In 8 years I’ve come a long way, but I’m no Hollywood editor. I was one of the few kids on my block without a video camera. My brother-in-law started making videos around the age of 10. He IS now a Hollywood film editor. He’s worked on films like Superman, Ironman, Spider-Man, and Mission Impossible 3). He attended West Lake Middle and they had a Video Production club and class. I went to Axton Middle (VA). Our electives were Wood Shop, Art, and Home Economics. I can’t tell you what any of the clubs were. Exposure makes a difference. In his Harvard commencement address, Steve Jobs talked about the Calligraphy course he took and how it sparked the idea of all the fonts Macs offer. We all develop at different rates and our experiences and exposure play a huge factor in who we become. At 28 the words of my parents finally sunk in and I INTENTIONALLY set out to be more and vowed to #BecomeBetter. Keep inspiring those young minds and exposing them to as much as possible. You never know who will grow to become the next _______ or the first _________ (fill in blanks with something that hasn’t been created yet). Disclaimer: Forgive any spelling errors. This was typed on my device of choice (smartphone) while walking on the treadmill.


    1. Phil,
      Thank you for your wise words. Exposure is very important. I agree with this. I will continue to give students choices so they have exposure. I will continue to model that learning new things sometimes takes hard work. I will continue to help grow our students into the best they can be. Isn’t our goal to always #becomebetter?


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