- High school technology teacher Dianne Pappafotopoulos writes for eSchoolNews that, after seeing students playing escape room games, for example, on their computers and not working on programming assignments, she began to wonder how to make the content she assigned more engaging.
- By weaving their interest in escape-room-styled gaming into the curriculum she had built, she allowed their interests to help define her lessons, with students starting by building flow charts so they could visually see the goal in front of them and the steps they needed to take.
- For other teachers to adopt a similar approach, Pappafotopoulos also suggests allowing students to create their own grading rubric, deciding how their own work should be judged and assessed.
Giving students more control over how curriculum is designed and taught — allowing them to come up with ideas that are then used in the classroom, for example — may help them engage more deeply in the subject no matter the topic or area of focus. A key pitfall, however, is obvious: Not every idea is going to engage everyone.
Still, empowering students to be leaders in their own learning has some merits, and certainly giving them a voice in their own education can help them feel that what they’re studying is more relevant to their own lives.
But a curriculum that changes based on what students select is one that is, by design, going to change each semester or year. While basic elements might remain the same, tying lessons to subjects students have picked requires additional management and work from teachers. This is time-intensive, and must be addressed by administrators eager to put this method into play.
To encourage teachers to adopt, or at least try this approach, chief academic officers may need to offer and create additional prep times for teachers, perhaps even adjusting school schedules, to ensure educators feel they have the resources to essentially create new lesson plans each year and not feel they’re burdened with an unmanageable amount of work.