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Valerie Librizzi September 20, 2018

How to Give Your Students More Ownership, Voice, and Choice in Your Classroom

Valerie Librizzi

BetterLesson Instructional Coach

  1. Do you want to include more choice in your classroom but are worried about giving up control?
  2. Would you like your students to set, manage, and reflect on personalized learning goals, and then be able to explain what they are working on and how it supports their goals?
  3. Would you like to empower your students to identify a pathway for their learning that is aligned to their goals, needs, and interests but don’t know how to develop those pathways?
  4. Would you like to design your curriculum so that students engage in learning tasks and content that are aligned to their individual skills, abilities, and affinities, but you aren’t sure how to do that?
  5. Would you like to be able to vary your instructional approach based on what you have learned about student preferences, strengths, and areas for growth, but aren’t sure how to make these pivots on a daily basis?

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you are on your way to implementing more Ownership, Choice, and Voice in your classroom. The goal of including more ownership, choice, and voice in your classroom is to put students in the driver seats of their own learning, making the classroom more student-led and personalized.

The goal of providing students with ownership, agency, and choice can feel overwhelming to tackle all at once. Start by thinking about a strategy you’d like to try for each of these areas:


How can you help students to “own” their learning? Try having them set personalized learning goals using the SMART Goal Setting strategy and then reflect on and refine those goals regularly


How can you give students choice in their learning activities? Create a choice board in which students can select the tasks that are most meaningful and relevant for their success! To learn more, consult the Choice Boards for Student Agency strategy.


How can you support students to have a voice and role in the classroom so that they feel like valued members of the community? Create specific roles for each of your students during group work. To learn more about student roles, consult the Student Roles: Democratizing Group Work strategy.

BetterLesson’s Master Teachers have also written lessons to support you to build more ownership, choice, and voice into your classroom.

  • To give students more ownership and voice in her classroom, 5th Grade ELA BetterLesson Master Teacher, Teresa Klein developed a Classroom Jobs and Expectations lesson to demonstrate how to create jobs for each of your students, and share those roles with students.
  • To give her students choice in their learning experiences, 8th grade Science BetterLesson Master Teacher, Lori Knasiak implemented 20% time into her science curriculum where students have 20% of their learning time to devote to a content-related topic that they developed.
  • To give his students more ownership and voice in his classroom, 9th grade Algebra BetterLesson Master Teacher, James Dunseith gave his students space to collaboratively problem solve to demonstrate their understanding and provide feedback on each other’s algebraic moves. To learn more, explore James’ Collaborating to Level Up lesson.

So now it’s time for you to put students in the driver’s seat of their learning by incorporating more ownership, choice, and voice into your classroom. You can do this by taking small steps as you focus on each of these three elements (ownership, choice, and voice) in your daily lesson planning. If you’d like some support, a BetterLesson Instructional Coach can help!