Grade 5 students in Ms. Carrie Zimmer’s class at Dunecrest American School have changed the way they’ve been studying Math. They’ve transitioned from a teacher-directed approach into one where students have more agency in how they spend their time learning the objectives set for each lesson.
At the end of the week, students take a quiz from the iReady Math program and have the option to “Challenge the Quiz” for the following week’s lesson. Based on performance, students are divided into groups for the pre-set lesson or a challenge level. Each group is given a differentiated task list using a “Must Do, Should Do, or Could Do” framework. These include completing the iReady workbook, watching videos, completing iReady online lessons, playing content-related games and attending mini-lessons. The students sign up for mini-lessons hosted by Ms. Zimmer at various times throughout the week. In reflecting on how the math instruction has shifted, students have commented that they enjoy having control of their work time and being able to work with their friends, but also noted that it’s important to develop their time-management skills.
As students have more ownership in their learning, they develop more intrinsic motivation and desire to learn independently. With time, students can be asked to create their own task lists and choose the evidence that shows their successful completion of the curriculum objectives.
Ms. Zimmer has noticed that the number of students choosing the "challenge level" tasks is increasing weekly, proving that choice and agency has a direct impact on student engagement which increases overall student attainment.