It's why I believe in letting kids read what they want to read 📚 but there's also many more options!
This week I gave my freshmen a "Dear Future Me" assignment, and in part of this letter to themselves, they were tasked with writing their hopes and wishes.
One of my students wrote that he hopes "to be more cultured in the future." He continued on that he wishes he had more opportunities to learn more about different cultures and experiences, and how other people think and live, but he was a little scared to ask, and even so, wouldn't know who to ask.
Firstly, I am extremely proud of him for his want to learn about others different than him (many adults I know do not even think like this), but this also reminded me of why I make it a point to make spaces for choice and exposure in my curriculum.
Exposure and student choice are vital, and I believe in providing them whenever possible, even in mini-form. Some of my favorite times to provide quick spaces for them are as icebreakers, journals/bellringers, and enrichment activities for early finishers.
A great time to incorporate choice, while also incorporating inclusivity, is during this season. There are countless holidays celebrated year round, but the winter season is especially filled. Various cultures and religions celebrate differently, and all deserve acknowledgement, respect, and welcome - just like I want my kids to always feel - acknowledged, respected, and welcomed.
As a way to expose students to more than just the popularly commercialized holidays, I enjoy assigning this choice board each year. This activity only takes 10 - 15 minutes, but the intrigue and discussions can be extended far beyond.
As far as instructions and choices for the board options go, it's all editable. The writing reflection afterward can also be extended if you’re in need of a paragraph writing workshop prompt, or you want to add some grammar piece(s) to assess. It can even become a fun project that students complete one of the weeks leading up to winter break, where they create some type of presentation or artistic piece in dedication to a holiday other than their own.
When students open the activity, the instructions direct them to:
Look through the choice board options and select a holiday that they are unfamiliar with and/or that they do not celebrate
Read through the information in the provided link for that holiday
Pair/share with their table partners about the information they read
Complete a reflection piece on their overall investigation
The cool thing is that this process can be duplicated for just about anything -
- various texts with the same theme
- various Canva templates as project completion options (great for
- various sources on a topic
- various modalities of a text (a pdf, an audio, a video walkthrough, an
example of elements within it)
- various poems on the same topic written by authors of different genders
Our activities don’t always have to be grandiose to make an impact, and though those wow ones are fun too, simplicity along with letting students take the wheel can often go a long way.