Balancing Independence with Structure

Sam Oertwig talks with a PreK teacher about a decision to add slightly more structure to her "free choice" time by having students fill out a "passport" to track their visits to set stations/centers. Although students can still decide which centers to visit and when, the teacher also uses the increase in structure to more deliberately support children when introducing new center activities.  She and Sam discuss the balance she is trying to achieve between assisting children in small groups and generally monitoring the room.  They also discuss how this shift has benefited her students while still allowing them to develop independence. 

  • What types of factors do you think this teacher may have had to consider when making the decision to adjust the nature of her free choice time?
  • What about your classroom activities and/or classroom environment is deliberately structured to foster some level of indepedent thought and decision-making?  Can you think of some ways you could increase the opportunities for children in your classroom to decide which learning materials to use, and how?
  • How do you balance giving individual/small group attention to students with interacting with the whole class?