Choice Making for Elementary Students is a US Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs funded project designed to increase students' success in school by teaching self-determination skills and involving students in the educational process. At the beginning of the project we identified self-determination skills important to teach elementary students by completing a review of the literature and conducting focus groups. We then divided these skills into two lesson strands
1. Choosing and Reaching Goals lessons
2. Student-Directed School Conferences lessons.
Though the focus is students with disabilities, the lessons are written for use in general education classrooms for the benefit of all students.
In the Choosing and Reaching Goals process, students first learn the academic and behavior standard of focus and several skills that will help them meet the standard. The students and teacher evaluate the students' performance on the skills. Students then use the self-determination skills of goal-setting, developing and executing plans, self-evaluating, and making adjustments in order to meet the academic and behavior standards.
In these lessons students learn to set and accomplish goals to help them meet reading standards. Students learn the reading standard they are expected to meet, “Students will read and understand a variety of materials.” Students evaluate themselves on reading skills that will help them meet the standard and use that information to set their reading goals. They write and complete plans to accomplish their goals, then evaluate and graph their progress. Periodically the teacher and students review their progress and make any needed adjustments to their goals or plans.
The Choosing and Reaching Behavior Goals lessons focus on the behavior standard, "Students will behave respectfully with peers and adults." The major self-determination skills that are taught in the lessons include the following:
This process will be applied to two specific behavior skills, "following directions" and "interact appropriately with peers". We believe this process will provide data for the development of a student-directed behavior support plan that will be used with students who demonstrate chronic or persistent challenging behavior in school and other settings.
Students learn to led their own parent-teacher conferences. In preparation for the conference, students complete activities to identify their interests, skills, and needs in academic subjects and other areas of school life. Students learn to summarize how they are doing in school and towards meeting standards. They create and present a plan to build on their strengths and improve in areas of need.