Differentiating with a self-selected product means the student determines the way in which she or he will demonstrate what has been learned, the evidence of their learning. The student may propose a product or may select one from options provided by the teacher. When students are given the freedom to choose the ways in which they demonstrate their learning, their interest and excitement increases; however, not all gifted students are independent decision-makers or learners. Some may need assistance identifying their preferences or following through on their choices.
Students need to consider the content and audience when selecting a format for the product. It should be authentic to the content or discipline and appropriate for communicating what they have learned to the intended audience. They also need to ensure the product can be completed in the time allowed.
A collection of product options is provided in Appendix K. For students who need to learn to choose, select a smaller set of teacher-supported alternatives for student choice, possibly focusing on those best suited to the content and process. The complete list should be available for students who are adept and autonomous in making choices.
- They also appear in the “Possibilities for Learning,” a survey of student learning preferences.
- If the full survey is made available to them, they will have the opportunity to determine the content, process, learning environment and content. This will ensure self-selected differentiation of student learning.
As mentioned above, a student can either select a favorite from the list or the student can offered a shorter list of products selected by the teacher. The list may be expanded or reduced, as needed. More and less experienced decision-makers might be offered different choice-making options including:
- Selecting from 2 – 5 teacher-determined options;
- Selecting from 2 – 4 options or a fifth, “None of the above”. Students who choose the last can negotiate a product they like that is not one of the options;
- Expert choosers may be offered some or all of the options on the page and an invitation to come up with an idea of their own if they’d like
If the student has a rationale for an unexpected format there are three things to keep in mind before approving the student’s choice:
- Is it appropriate for the intended audience (experts, professionals, judges, etc.)?
- Is it appropriate for the type of content to be presented?
- Will it take an appropriate amount of time to prepare?
Kettle, Renzulli and Rizzadeveloped a survey to identify preferred formats for student products.