How do you allow for student choice/input while keeping within your school's curricula requirements?


@informed_members & @Certified_Educators we are nearing the end of our slow-chat started by @freymuge and fueled by @Dawn_Frier1. I’ll pick up the torch for the weekend. :fire:

At my school, we’ve discussed a lot about trying to do more student-centered learning in our department, but we feel confined by our district requirements. :chains: We have a curriculum map that all five public high schools are required to follow so students who transfer within district don’t miss any curriculum. On top of that, we are mandated to use common paper assessments within each PLC. So,…

I selfishly pose to you: How would (do) you provide student-centered learning opportunities within fairly rigid curricular expectations? :thinking:


Our district also mandates the use of 1 common assessment per chapter which is a paper assessment, yet we have the freedom to any other forms of assessment.I would suggest you discuss this issue at your first PLC and have an alternate type assessment ready for review. It’s my personal experience, that admin is far more receptive to innovative thinking and open to change when a final product is used to support the change; They secretly want to be viewed as an educational innovators.

This year I am going to introduce hyperdocs. They’re essentially repackaging of lesson plans on a Google Doc. I plan on using them to help provide differentiation and student choice. Here’s two I discovered Surface Area@msashlylcot
50 States Digital Road Trip

I am planning on creating one for “M08.A-N.1.1 Apply concepts of rational and irrational numbers”.



@myersl Oooooh I love both of those! I am 100% with you on HyperDocs as I am sure everyone knows at this point :joy: I am pretty fortunate though because I teach adult ed and while we do have our own state standards to follow, we have a lot of freedom. I recently updated my HyperDocs website:
[HyperDocs for Adult Educators]and I am actually adding a page for favorite tools as we speak.
HyperDocs for Adult Educators

I also wanted to share a couple of my favorite pics of students engaged in HyperDocs:



Although I do have more flexibility than many other educators, I still have to work within the constraints of the curriculum map set forth by by district, and there are assessments/benchmark that “we all need to take” a certain way. However, anything else can be modified to suit our teaching styles and the learners we have. Thus, I propose that the answer to the question of choice falls under the umbrella of differentiation, which opens up the possibility of student choice.
If you differentiate the content, you can provide hyperdocs, learning paths and/or playlists and even have students reate their own for a specific topic you have to teach.
If you differentiate the process you can give choice in the types of assignments and formative assessments you do along the way.
If you differentiate the product, you can open up a myriad of choices for students to take ownership of their learning while still complying with the curricular expectations set forth by your district.


Great idea Lonnie. Thanks. You HyperDocs look great! Ironically, our curriculum map changed and we are starting off the year with rational and irrational numbers. I would love to see that HyperDoc when it’s completed. Here’s the code to my folder for that section in case you can use some of it for your class.

Freedom is great. I had lots of freedom when I was the only math teacher for my grade level. I wasn’t forced to ‘follow’ someone else’s plans or ideas and I literally had established fluid, unique learning paths for six classes. I still ‘taught’ my grade level curriculum, but I did so through bell ringers. I had five different problems, one from each strand, that would loop in a PowerPoint with slides changing every 10 seconds. Students had about 5-10 minutes to copy down the problems and work them out. Then I had students volunteer to work out those problems for the class. The bell ringers would be the same types of problems all week long and then on Friday they took a bell ringer quiz. After analyzing those results, I questions where less than 80% of the class mastered it were repeated the next week. Questions at or above 80% mastered moved on to the next harder concept in that strand. Each class had a different set of bell ringers and it was quite hectic to manage those, but it was well worth it! As a class exhausted a strand, I pulled in another ‘independent’ concept problem from another strand and built it up. I was amazed by two things that first year: (1) while each class started with the same problems, and diverged along the year, they all ended up at the SAME place at the end of the year, and (2) the average growth for my students (based on STAR tests for Accelerated Math) were 4.5 YEARS! I had the AM program to tailor each student’s curriculum based on their needs, so after the bell ringer, they would get to work on their individualized math problems. I set up peer tutors to help one another based on their progress. I would then schedule at least one fun activity during the week, adding a second one if the class seemed like they needed it… or if students requested a particular activity. I would poll students often and even let students ‘grade’ me periodically during the school year. While they didn’t have ‘choice’ as much as would have been expected in SCL, they did have a lot of input… and I listened. :slight_smile:


Thank you for those Formatives!!! They look great.


My district has recently adopted new series for reading and math. When I first hear this decision I felt sick over it, but after some experience with the programs, I actually feel I have become a better teacher because so much of my time that I spent planning and preparing has already been layed out and I can work to make lessons more creative, engaging, and student centered.

I think that the greatest avenue for me for allowing student choice has been through a PBL approach. Within each of our “ready made units” we have found opportunities to enhance the curriculum and in turn make it much more engaging for students.


I am an elective so we are not in the same boat as the core. They all have common curriculum maps and, assessments and PLC time to analyze data. I do feel your pain, I just don’t have to experience it quite the same way.
I still have standards and a state EOI to give students but no one to collaborate with at my school.
This year the district is going all in on core and some electives using Mastery Connect. I think they thought it was the best way to try and get people on the same page.

I love this!!! I think I can use it as a model to apply my content. I am exploring the use of hyperdocs to drive instruction, give students freedom and relieve teaching stress because it gives me time to get to the students who need the extra help.

Thanks for the google shares and examples of student engagement.

Winning three ways - thanks for the succinct purposes of differentiation @mgarcia

It is pretty terrifying but I give an assessment for all my students to grade me - like they do in college after a course but I try to formally do it at least twice a year so I can alter my instruction and then I ask for feedback all the time. As I build my relationships with students they feel more comfortable giving honest feedback without fear of retaliation via bad grade.

We were taken over by a government SIG for 5 years and when we started I was pretty nervous, stressed and full of anxiety on a regular basis. Hindsight, I got millions of dollars worth of education and now feel comfortable being assessed and I am a much better teacher.

This is becoming a bigger and bigger part of my teaching philosophy, so I am learning and growing as much as I can in this area. If you want free, valuable, self-directed PD in this area and a certificate for completion go to set up an account and learn away at your own pace.

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Kids are always excited or afraid to give me an F. I tell them that they can give me what ever grade they want, but they have to support that grade.

  1. What grade would you give me this term?
  2. What did I do (or not do) to earn this grade.
  3. What can I change about our class so I get a better grade next time?

I really like this question.