Tricks of the Trade: Using Controlled Choice to Increase Student Engagement and Accountability
Keywords:controlled choice, engagement, accountability
With all of our bags bulging with familiar tricks and tools, I have found it difficult to engage all of my students all of the time. This year I decided that I needed to add a new trick to my bag. Therefore, I began to review research about student choice (Atwell, 1989; Graves, 1983) and discovered the importance of controlled choice, which allows for student choice within a set of standards-based parameters. While students are able to choose topics and genre, standards and learning goals are still paramount. Atwell, in her hallmark text In the Middle, explains "Freedom of choice does not undercut structure" (p. 15). Confident that this was the trick I needed, I chose to incorporate controlled choice into various writing activities throughout the year.