Brian Herbert, an American author, once wrote: “The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.”
In our middle school classroom, we often find this to be true. There are so many bright minds at work. But, I would also add that the presence of choices nurtures the willingness to learn. Therefore, in middle school, choices frequently become the order of the day!
First we gain the ability to create a successful outcome: the acquisition of many note-taking techniques, the framework of a problem-solving technique, the anatomy of an expository paragraph, etc.
Once many options for success are taught and mastered, then the students are given the choice. They decide which version, which choice, works for them and makes them feel successful. For example, students can choose to log their English notes on the computer. For many, the written form is perfectly acceptable to them.
During Project, students choose their path based on their type of interest in the Project-at-hand. For many, they want to collaborate on Project. Some prefer an individual endeavor. Some prefer to work in pairs. Working in a study group is yet another preference for others. In any case, the success is the individual student’s. The willingness to learn is a result of the choice.