Creating the Perfect Learning Menu to Ensure Voice and Choice
By Ashley Gorgoglione, HS Economics teacher at McKee High School in Staten Island, NY
“It's not that perfection cannot be achieved. It's that it's so hard to stop there.” -Robert Brault
It’s safe to say that this year was probably overwhelming for most educators and as if the general changes with the pandemic weren’t enough, our school leaders decided we needed to make menus for each unit of study as a way to get students more engaged. It felt like it would be impossible to do. The economics team was overwhelmed with the information we learned during a professional learning session and it took a week to process it; however, after some reflection time, I was all in.
Team Planning for Development of Menus
As a team, we decided we would meet every Tuesday for an hour to work on our IMPACT Team and menu options for the Unit of study. Also, we met for a half hour for grade team meetings every Friday morning.
First, we chose a standard that we agreed would be applicable for the unit of study. Then we deconstructed the standard and broke it down even further into specific targets.
Second, we divided the targets among team members. Each team member was responsible for creating tasks that were aligned to the target. We shared our tasks on a Google doc.
Lastly, at the next IMPACT team meeting, some team members were unsure of rolling out the menu, but we took a risk. We knew it wasn’t perfect but we still assigned it to the students.
Student Benefits of Constructing Menus
As a team we saw the benefits of the menus to student learning, growth, and assessment. The ability for students to pick and choose items that they would like to complete as well as be able to showcase and share their ideas on economics and this idea was extremely exciting to me.
Benefits to Menu options for students:
Menus are differentiated and provide choice to students to showcase their knowledge in content areas
Allows students to be creative while being able to express their knowledge in the content area
Offer multiple opportunities for students to show what they know while getting feedback along the way
Provide ample experiences to collect, track and demonstrate progress toward a goal in the content area.
Below is a student generated/created task aligned to the target
Assessing with Respect and what it looks like in our classroom:
Here are some reasons why assessing with respect is important in creating menus:
Student voice and co-creation and co-construction of assignments and assessments
This allows students to be able to understand the development of the task that they will need to complete and also be a part of the assessment process
The students are able to have multiple “swipes” or even the ability to revise/edit their work (one point rubrics allow students to really be able to prove how they met the standard or target!)
Empower Students as well as hold them accountable for all aspects of the tasks and assessment for the menus
One point rubrics also alleviates looking at a complicated grading system. Students were part of the assessment process and co constructed the criteria for the one point rubrics.
Below are student responses using the One Point Rubrics to assess their menu:
Was it perfect? Just ask the students
After we “rolled out” the first menu, we constructed a feedback survey on the menu.
Here are some of the student results and key takeaways we got:
Far from Perfect….but getting there!
In our weekly meetings, we were able to review the data from the student surveys and make revisions and accommodations to what the students were interested in for their tasks. The big takeaway was the format of the menu itself was confusing for most students. That is what our focus was on...how can we make the menu “student friendly”? From the data, we were able to come up with ideas to make the menu interdisciplinary with students' CTE classes creating a more engaging synthesizing task. This synthesizing task allowed students to show their expertise in their shop classes.
Stay tuned to see how the students did with the synthesizing task in our second menu.