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The
book, Learning to Choose Choosing to
Learn the Key to Student Motivation and Achievement written by Mike
Anderson is about recommending students choices about their learning, and
different ways teachers can enhance students learning, motivation, and
achievement in school. Anderson offers numerous examples of the idea of student
choice being put into action. In his book, he includes ideas to try with a
range of students, and step-by-step processes to help teachers plan and
incorporate the idea of choice into their classrooms. Some of the main topics
that Mike Anderson explores within his book are, basic ideas about choice, how
do we help students make good choices and implementation of those techniques to
better student achievement. His book provides insights about choice among
students within a classroom setting. He focuses on the idea that the more
choices students have about their learning, the more successful they will be.

Mike Anderson’s book is a guide to explaining and demonstrating ways to help
students who are bored, frustrated, and underperforming when it comes to school
work and education as a whole.

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 There were
numerous topics within Anderson’s book that truly stood out. The first topic
that the author emphasized a lot was the three-step process for facilitating
choice. The three steps the author defines are “choose-do-review”. This
particular strategy the first step is ‘choose’ which the author explains as
giving the students an opportunity to consider all the options. For example, if
there is more than one way to do a math problem or two different articles for a
class discussion, the educator should give the students time to examine all the
options and figure out which would be the right fit for them. Mike Anderson is
making the point here that is stated in the title “choosing” is a major part of
education and keeping students engaged in what they are learning. The next step
in this process of choice is ‘do’. Here the educator plays a role in guiding
the students as they work. The author explains that it is here that you might
aid students and either refine or change choices they made or help them reflect
on those choices. The final step in the process is ‘review’. This step is once
the students finish their work. The teacher should give the students time to
reflect on what they just accomplished and the overall choices that they made.

This step helps build the skill of metacognition and allows for students to
become better at making choices down the line. I found it interesting that
something as simple as choice among your students can help them and engage them
more in the material, which is the main message that Mike Anderson was trying
to get across in his book.

 

            The
second topic that caught my attention was creating a safe and supportive
environment. Of course, any educator would already understand this concept
because school is supposed to be a safe place for student growth and
expression. In this chapter of the book, the author mentioned several subtopics
about student-teacher relationships, discipline among the classroom, and how a
room should be designed for pro-social interactions. Most of what was discussed
in this chapter we touched a bit on in class. Anderson explains the ideas of
safety, inclusion, and collaboration make for the best environment. Anderson
explains examples of a safe and supportive environment which include a cozy
feel. Here he is explaining the idea that we all have places that make us feel
safe or that we love, he uses the example of a coffee shop or a spot in the
library. He expresses the fact that those areas include pleasant lighting,
colors are soothing and warm, it’s neat and clean, and the staff or other
people there are helpful (Anderson, 2016). He says that you should create a
classroom that students can make great work happen, and  make sure that this space includes a variety
of places for students to do work. It should include different preferences for
certain individuals, like quite spaces, comfy spots, tables for group work,
etc. (Anderson, 2016). The author mentions this topic because he says, “it
makes choice more effective, but will also go beyond the idea of choice being
utilized among the students”(Anderson, 2016). He also states, “any learning
environment will benefit when a classroom environment is safe enough for
students to take risks and inclusive enough so that all students feel like they
belong and are respected” (Anderson, 2016).

 

            The
final major concept that I found to be important that the author mentions was, overall
the key benefits of choice. This chapter, the author focused on the main
reasons why choice is so beneficial. The author discusses that choices help
overcome two common challenges among students. The first challenge being
differentiation and how choice provides options for students and have them
self-differentiate. We discussed in class how important differentiation is for
student learning because not all people learn the same way or have the same
capabilities as others. For example, Anderson mentions a reading example and
how all the students chose their books. The books had to be fictional, at the
appropriate reading level so that they could examine character development. He
explained that even though the books were not the same for all the students,
and they were not all at the same reading level, they still were able to
accomplish the main goal of the learning experience because they chose their
own book that fit them. The second challenge was apathy and how students vary
in other ways than just their abilities. This part of the chapter talked about
how when you tap into students’ interests and their passions, they become more
invested in their learning (Anderson, 2016). It also mentioned several other
benefits which included engage in deeper learning, display more on-task
behaviors, their social and emotional learning increases, and teaching is more
fun. The author summed up the chapter with a quote, “choice is a means to an
end not an end in and of itself” (Anderson, 2016). Mike Anderson provides this
information because with understanding the benefits of choice, it will make
educators more likely to utilize it within their classrooms and thus improve
students learning.

 

            Based on Mike Anderson’s experience
and being a classroom teacher, he has had the opportunity to employ the
strategy of choice among his students and see effective results. He mentions in
the book that he always gives his students opportunities for choices in a wide
range of subjects from math to reading. He has also written other books like
his first one entitled The Research-Ready
Classroom which was a book about how independent research projects can be
challenging and a form of choice. This topic is not something that is foreign
to Anderson, as he has done is research and used choice in his own classroom
numerous times. He also has worked for the Northeast Foundation for Children,
which is a nonprofit organization that supports teachers use of choice as a strategy
to boost student engagement in the classroom (Anderson, 2016). He clearly
mentions that “this book represents more than two decades of professional learning and
growth on the topic of choice” (Anderson, 2016). Mike Anderson has the credentials
and background to be able to write about these topics and prove that they
actually work.

 

            As
a novice professional, the information that this book provides is going to help
shape the way I work with children and the different techniques that I use to
keep them engaged while learning. I specifically want to work with children in
a smaller clinical setting as a Speech-Language Pathologist, and I have learned
that motivation is a key part of an intervention. When working with younger
children, it is especially difficult to keep them focused and motivated. The
topics that Anderson discussed in his book made me think about when I enter the
working world and how I can apply his strategies to make a difference in my
line of work. Children often tend to get bored, and frustrated while in speech
therapy, specifically once they reach adolescence. After reading Anderson’s
thoughts about choice and how it can make a difference in achievement depending
on how it is implemented has shown me just how to handle situations like
frustration and lack of motivation. Although it may seem easy, keeping a young
child, or even an older individual focused on a specific task, is not an easy
job. Motivation is something that is sometimes a struggle for most people and
after reading through this book, it has given me more information to utilize
and make myself a better therapist overall.  I could see myself implemented choice to a
certain extent during intervention with a client. If motivation is the problem,
sometimes choice is an excellent reinforcer and motivator to get the child
engaged in the task at hand. Overall, the content of this book was very
eye-opening and showed me a new way of learning not just for others but for
myself as a student as well. It made me think that sometimes the simplest of
strategies like choice, or a welcoming, cozy, safe environment can have a huge
impact on how well a student learns or how engaged they can be. I feel that
educators sometimes don’t consider the small stuff when teaching, but rather look for solutions when
it just happens to be the simplest ways that make the difference.

 

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