As I’ve read some fun books about making the tasks we do in school more authentic/genuine/engaging, one common theme is *student choice*.

But …

How do we make choice consistently meaningful? There are a few projects I do already where choice is (fairly) meaningful. When we study data for our Exhibition, students get to choose one of the variables they are investigating (and their choices range from % of population in prison, to MCAS scores, to physicians/1000 people). That choice seems meaningful. Often I allow students to choose a method for solving; that also seems meaningful.

But when I imagine students working on the everyday tasks next year, I struggle to imagine how choice could work. Here are my concerns.

First, I’m banking heavily on students completing tasks in different ways and *teaching each other those ways* in order to meet a myriad of Algebra standards. How will students compare methods if everyone is doing different problems? Perhaps it’d be fine if a critical mass of students were doing each problem and then together had to come up with a variety of methods.

Second, how in the world do we make the choice meaningful? Say I do put out 4 different word problems — what’s the process for having students read all the problems and having them choose the one that would be most interesting/accessible for them?

Literally as I’m writing this, I’m thinking to myself, well, it seems I do have a plan …

1) Offer choice in *topic* when it makes sense (i.e. Exhibition).

2) Choice in *method* is a fundamental value and so will (almost?) always be assumed.

3) Choice in *task* is perhaps most meaningful for me when there are few enough choices that student-to-student teaching can happen and when the choices are quickly processed by students (so more visual or topical than verbal).