In one of my education classes last week, we got into a discussion about whether the point of students completing an assignment was to actually learn something… or simply to jump through the hoops prescribed their teacher? Many educators, teacher candidates, and parents, still seem to believe that students need to learn to complete all assigned work as a means of developing their their work ethic and proving their ability to follow directions, even if they have already grasped the outcome. This is the mindset of individuals who are diametrically opposed to the No Zero Policy, that has been adopted through out many jurisdictions in our country. Whereas, I view this as a movement towards an education system that puts the responsibility of learning firmly on the shoulders of the student- and NOT a way for learners to get away with not doing assignments; this article, by an Alberta educator, supports this assertion. The Saskatchewan Curriculum also clearly outlines, how teachers need to offer multiple ways for learners to be able to achieve each outcome, offering flexibility and personal autonomy to our learners as both the means and the ends of this practice.
As I work on my mini unit plan, I have been trying to include variety, choice and challenging tasks in my lesson plans. I have attempted to give individuals the opportunity to find the method of self expression that is best suited to their unique skill set and interests, with the caveat that they can not choose the same method for each of the 5 assignments; while also trying to compel my students to reach a little beyond their comfort zone and try something new…
Maybe I am going out on a limb here, but I even included a creative dance assignment, as a method for representing ideas/thoughts/events, in my Grade 8 ELA learning plan. This TED talk proposes that dance is a valuable approach for all of us to use to fully and clearly express complex ideas.
Now I know not every 13 or 14 year old is going to be thrilled about a creative dance assignment… which is why I offer choice as well- and is also why I will not accept zero effort on an assignment!