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Support students’ autonomy through opportunities for student decision making and direction

Autonomy Planning Tool

Planning Tool

These are metacognitive/self-reflective questions that teachers can pose to themselves to help them consider specific strategies for enacting the MDP in an upcoming lesson. These questions are meant to guide teachers to think as concretely and specifically as possible about what they will say/do to support this MDP.

  1. What kinds of choices do students have in this lesson? How will I make sure that the choices are consequential to students’ science learning, and how will I know?
  2. To what extent does my lesson afford students the opportunity to control the direction and/or form of their learning? Are there specific points in the lesson where this can happen?
  3. What opportunities for meaningful cognitive autonomy have I built into my lesson? What proportion of teacher talk to student talk do I anticipate in this lesson? If it is very lopsided in favor of teacher talk, where are there opportunities for me to invite more student talk?
  4. How can I challenge myself to promote student autonomy in this lesson in ways that enhance students’ development as science learners? How will these autonomy supports help students make sense of phenomena and/or design solutions to problems in this lesson?
  5. What classroom rules and procedures do I need students to follow in this lesson, and what rationales can I provide to encourage students to follow these rules, as well as engage in the learning task? How can I be prepared to articulate a rationale for learning and behavioral expectations that emphasizes student agency over compliance with authority?
  6. What kinds of reactions or emotions may students have to the activities in this lesson? How will I acknowledge and respond to potential negative emotions (e.g., boredom, frustration) in supportive ways that recognize and validate students’ perspectives?