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After all, providing choice can be messy, with students completing different tasks at different rates, making it hard to be consistent with grading.

It can also mean a lot more prep work: If you’re going to give students three different options for an assignment, that means you have to prepare all three options ahead of time. Isn’t that kind of prep work more in line with worksheet-oriented teaching, where students are doing low-level work that was largely prepared by the teacher?

When I ask teachers what their biggest struggles are, one issue comes up on a regular basis: student motivation.

You are able to reach many of your students, but others are unreachable.

Instead, we blame technology: “Students are so distracted by their phones.” Or we blame the parents: “Parents just don’t want to be bothered” or “They don’t want their kids to fail/experience setbacks/take responsibility.” Or we make sweeping generalizations: “Kids today just aren’t like they used to be. Unfortunately, even if ALL of the above statements are true, .

Consider letting them choose: Many, many teachers count on rewards (“carrots”) and punishments (“sticks”) to motivate students.

I wanted students to do their work at about the same pace, and I knew next to nothing about differentiation.

Now I’m thinking about Matt, another one of my unmotivated seventh graders, who was incredibly smart.

If I had given Matt a more active role in his own learning, he might have been more engaged.

How we can do better: There are lots of ways you can allow more choice in your classroom without having to completely overhaul your way of doing things.

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