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VIDEO: Student Voice and Choice at Work in Chicago's Ashburn Elementary


The sky is the limit when students take ownership over their learning.


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"I always give my students choice," says Barbara Wade, a teacher at Ashburn Community Elementary School in Chicago.

According to UDL principles, giving students choices can increase their enthusiasm for the learning process. The best teachers have always known that when a student feels heard and is provided options for their learning, the sky is the limit.

In this video, Wade brings the concept of student voice and choice to life by giving her students the opportunity to choose what ThinkCERCA lesson to work on. After studying the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment, Wade's students chose to engage in the Supreme Court Decisions: Free SpeechWatch to see how this practice leads to increased engagement, collaboration, and idea sharing among students.

Elizabeth Riley Boyer
Elizabeth Riley Boyer

Elizabeth Riley Boyer is an experienced journalist, digital content strategist, and operations manager. Prior to joining ThinkCERCA, she was part of the founding team at Impact Engine, Chicago’s first social impact investment fund and accelerator. As Impact Engine’s Director of Operations & Communications, Elizabeth oversaw the company’s overall processes, day-to-day planning and finances, curriculum development, marketing strategy, and community outreach.

Elizabeth also spent three years at Chicago magazine, most recently as its Digital Engagement Editor, where she managed the organization’s social media and reader engagement initiatives. Elizabeth also works as a freelance content strategist, writer, and communications consultant. Her recent writings on impact entrepreneurship have been featured by the Huffington Post and Crain’s Chicago Business.

In 2007, Elizabeth helped open a private school for underprivileged children while volunteering for a nonprofit organization in the Dominican Republic. This experience inspired her to quit a paper-pushing job at an insurance brokerage firm to pursue a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Elizabeth also holds a bachelor’s degree in American studies from the University of Texas at Austin.