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Cascade Matters is the blog of Cascade Educational Consultants. Cascade has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations and civic development. We are committed to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens. Learn more about us.

Cascade Educational Consultants is an educational consulting firm committed to high-quality equitable teaching, learning and serving environments for all students to succeed in school and in life. Click here to learn more about our services...




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Choices

choices
This summer, I have heard many parents, guardians, family members and friends asking young people, “What would you like to do?”

The assumption is that there are many options for summer activities and that if youth make the choice they will be more motivated to engage in the activity.

Giving youth choices gives them ownership and allows them to enjoy the activities and overcome challenges when things do not go as planned.

Why not expand providing choices for young people to our schools? If we ask students what is important and relevant to them, I am sure as teachers we can design curriculum-based activities that align with their interests.

This strategy raises issues. For example, asking all students what is relevant and important to them will certainly identify too many topics, activities and issues.

An effective way of addressing this challenge is to focus both on the course content and the general educational objectives that exist in almost all schools and districts. These objectives include developing young people who are:
  1. Critical decision makers;
  2. Complex thinkers,
  3. Effective communicators,
  4. Effective teams members,
  5. Quality producer, and
  6. Community contributor.
Teachers can ask students to work in groups to determine an initial list of topics and activities that interest students and then prioritize them to a smaller number that is agreed upon by all students.

Such an activity requires students to develop and apply the six learning objectives listed above. In addition it provides quality opportunities for students to develop content knowledge, collaborative skills and dispositions we all expect of successful graduates of our schools.

Giving students a choice should not just be a choice but a preference to engage students in meaningful, relevant and motivating learning activities.

About the author: Terry Pickeral, president Cascade Educational Consultants has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations and civic development. His commitment is to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens.
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