There are many benefits of incorporating voice, choice, and SEL into the classroom, including improved learning experiences and achievement. It encourages students to engage in their learning and gives them the agency to develop self-regulation and become self-directed learners. Giving students increased autonomy can also help them feel valued and encourage them to realize their interests and potential.
This winter, bring student voice, choice, and SEL into your classroom. Here are three simple activities that give students a chance to express themselves and build important social and emotional skills, all while celebrating winter!
1. Invite students to lead a winter-themed class project. Ask students to pick the topic of a special winter-themed project. For example, they could choose to have a bake sale, write holiday cards, or decorate the classroom. Allowing them to choose the project will increase engagement, excitement, and participation. Give them parameters and guidelines, but also give them as much autonomy as possible.
2. Ask students to set (and achieve) a winter goal. The goals could be anything from limiting social media time to making dinner one night for their families to spending more time reading for pleasure. Make sure their goal is specific (i.e. “I will only check social media once a day for the next week”), and have students make a plan for how they will execute their goal (i.e. “Instead of checking TikTok I will read a book, exercise, or play a board game.”). Follow up with students to monitor their progress. They may need to revise their plans if they find themselves not achieving their goals.
3. Have students reflect on the upcoming winter break. The holidays and winter break can be a fun and joyous time, but it can also cause increased stress and anxiety for some. Family gatherings can be stressful, financial issues may be a concern, and not all students enjoy or celebrate winter holidays. Before break, or as a suggested activity during break, ask students to journal as a way to express their emotions, thoughts, fears, and hopes surrounding the time off. Help them understand that writing can assist them in regulating their emotions, managing stress, and increasing self-awareness.
There are many ways to give students more autonomy. This in turn will help them become more engaged and feel a stronger sense of ownership over their learning. We hope you have fun with these winter-themed student voice, choice, and SEL activities!