Offering Multiple Pathways

Graphic - Mult PathBy giving students a choice of materials, you provide support to those who have difficulty understanding the required textbook. Your students' content knowledge and skills increase when you offer them variety. When students have multiple pathways from which to choose, work tends to be more engaging and relevant for them.

Providing alternate materials to your advanced students is just as important as offering a variety of materials to those students who struggle. Advanced students often tune out when they can read and process information above their grade level. Let them build their content area vocabulary by offering extensive materials and opportunities for exploration beyond the textbook, and all your students will have a chance at engagement, exploration, and achievement.

Students who are struggling can become frustrated too when their classmates seem to get it and are ready to move on. Encourage struggling students to learn at their own pace by having them come up with their own suggestions for how they can approach the learning.

As you reflect upon how students learn, you should also reflect on how you, as a teacher, learn. You might learn easily from reading, watching something being modeled, listening to an explanation, or walking through the steps yourself. There are many paths to learning and not everyone walks the same one. Walking down this path is easier if it is a choice rather than something that is required or forced.

Like you, your students need to have access to information through different pathways. When planning for your students' learning, view how they might see the materials and methods that you use in your classroom. Access to information can take a variety of formats—some students may prefer using the Internet while others will garner more information from DVDs. Ask yourself which ones would they prefer; take into consideration the many different ways that people learn. Ask your students what they would prefer so you can make comparable pathways available for future lesson planning.

Offering a variety of materials encourages learning through choice rather than being forced onto one path. The point is to allow students access to those materials that will best suit their needs so that they can be successful within your content area.