What if for a day or week you chose to shift the responsibility of creating assignments to your students?
At this point in the school year, and this point of hybrid/remote/in-person learning, students have a strong sense of the independent learning tools available to them. They very likely also have a sense of what they need as a learner even if they aren’t able to articulate it. Empower students to act on these insights by giving them the responsibility of determining the contents of an upcoming assignment. You can start out small and have students make a one day plan, or challenge students to come up with a week’s worth of assignments for a particular subject area.
Organize this activity by asking students to make and submit their plans in advance. An email, Google Form, or other communication pathway provided by your learning management system will work well for submissions.
Step 1: Set clear parameters by letting students know which subject(s) and time period they are responsible for planning. Encourage students to use any of the learning resources they have available as a part of their plan. Be sure to also let students know that they are responsible for completing the assignment by the due date (determined by the length of time they are planning for) and that the assignment can not be to do nothing at all.
Step 2: Let students know that they are to submit their plan to you along with an explanation as to why they think that the assignment they submitted is the best one for them. Pending technology access, you may consider receiving these explanations as videos, voice memos, etc.
Step 3: Acknowledge each student’s plan, but don’t change or challenge it unless it is incomplete. Simply say something to the effect of, “Thank you for submitting your plan. I look forward to seeing your work as it is submitted.” If a student demonstrated particular thoughtfulness in their plan it would be valuable to point that out to them in your response as well.
Step 4: After the work has been completed ask students to respond to the following questions- after completing your assignment do you think that it was the right assignment for you? What would you do differently if you were creating another assignment for yourself? Would you want another opportunity to plan your own day/week of assignments?
By allowing students to create their own assignment(s) you are giving them an opportunity to take control of their own learning path. The exercise also mixes things up and allows students to have a little fun with the idea of “playing” teacher which can offer a nice change of pace.
Have you done this before with your students? Will you be trying it soon?
Let us know about your experience by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.