6 Student Choice Activities for ELA

Student choice activities empower students to take ownership of their work by giving them more independence and choice in their assignments. The bloggers at The Secondary English Coffee Shop are sharing our 6 favorite student choice activities that we think your ELA students will love!

1. Analyzing Movies and TV

Nouvelle ELA: 

One End of Year activity my students love is using all of their lit-crit skills to analyze a TV show or movie. We draw inspiration from BuzzFeed lists like “15 ‘Gray’s Anatomy’ Storylines that Almost Happened”  and ScreenRant articles like “10 Scenes ‘Vampire Diaries’ Fans Love to Rewatch.” Our lists include analysis: how would this have changed the story? What makes these key moments important? What could the writers have done better? This activity validates students’ favorite media as texts worthy of analysis and really increases engagement.

2. Wonder Day

Presto Plans: 

When I am looking for an activity that will give students a little more independence and choice, my go-to is to host a Wonder Day. With Wonder Day, students get the opportunity to research something they genuinely wonder about—they might choose video games, skateboarding, basketball, arcades, popular snack foods around the world, or literally anything else they are curious about! Then, they share the information with the rest of the class through a multimedia presentation, like a podcast or a blog post. This assignment is effective because it fosters curiosity while developing research, summarizing, and presentation skills at the same time.  An added bonus is that you’ll learn a great deal about your students and their interests in the process.

3. Thank You Letters

Addie Williams: 

One of the ways I like to wind up the year is to have students reflect on someone who has helped them during the year.  It could be a teacher, friend, coach, parent, relative, coworker, or whoever they can think of who has been a positive influence in their year.  I then encourage the students to write a thank you note to the person they’ve picked. I supply writing papers, time, ideas, and inspiration to get them started.  Once the letters have been written I do my best to help them get to their destination… whether it’s hand-delivered, emailed, or sent through the post.  If you’d like a place to start here’s a link to a free activity with letter paper students can use.

4. Reading Workshop

Room 213: 

As Nouvelle ELA has already pointed out, a chance to do a review of a TV show, a book, or even a favorite video game is an engaging choice activity. It’s also one that can also build persuasive writing skills. You can read more about how we use reviews for that in my classroom on this blog post. However, my favorite way to give students choice is through reading workshop, as it’s the best way to get students engaged in reading - and to foster a lifelong love of it. If you’d love to try more choice reaching in your classroom but aren’t sure where to fit it in, I have some strategies for you here.

5. Synthesis Writing

The Daring English Teacher: 

One of my favorite student choice activities to incorporate in the classroom is a persuasive synthesis project. Students choose a topic that interests them, and then they decide if they want to create a podcast, political poster, tv ad, or write a speech. This project turns into a passion project, and it is a great add-on after completing a synthesis essay writing project. 

6. Speech Writing 

Secondary Sara: 

At the end of the year, when students are tuning out, I give students my Mock TED Talks unit. There is so much freedom with topic, structure, and level of persuasion that students LOVE writing speeches on the topics they’re most passionate about. Students who don’t normally succeed (or care) do very well on this, and I accomplish several writing and public speaking standards. 

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