SEM-R Phase 3: Student Self-Choice Activities

Phase 3, Student Self-Choice Activities, is the portion of SEM-R where students have the opportunity to take the information and skills learned through Phases 1 and 2 and use them to pursue individual interests based on their learning style preferences. During Phase 3, teachers provide several options based on students’ reading and individual interests for students to choose to complete in an effort to further expand and enrich their learning. Options provided might include online exploration of interests, author studies, development of expressive products such as writing, artwork, or performances, or shared conversations about books. Additional Phase 3 options include continuing to read independently, buddy reading with a friend, or listening to an audiobook. Over the course of the academic year, students are encouraged to move from teacher-directed opportunities to self-choice activities.

Compile a List of Options

  • Try to provide at least 3-4 options for Phase 3. A few of the simplest options that you probably will want to incorporate frequently are as follows: (a) continue reading independently; (b) read with a buddy; (c) listen to an audio book; and (d) write about what you have been reading.
  • When making an initial list of options for Phase 3 activities, you must keep in mind the variety of ability levels, areas of interest, and expression styles present within the students in your classroom. Having examples of completed projects (either that you have done or examples from the internet) can also help to guide both you and your students.
  • Traditional options like written or oral book reports should not be completely discounted, but options like making a book trailer, creating a Facebook page for a character, or writing scenes in script form give students an alternative option to showcase their knowledge.
  • Long-term creative projects are an effective option for Phase 3 and in many instances hold long-term benefits in students’ self-efficacy and attitude. However, ensure that students have a choice either in their Phase 3 activities every session or at least for some sessions as a break from a long-term project.
  • Consider establishing "interest groups" whereby students with shared interests can work on projects related to that area of interest.

Understanding Readiness

  • Not all students will be ready to begin Phase 3 at the same time. For instance, some students will need more support with basic reading skills, while your more advanced students might be ready to begin independent projects at the beginning of the year.


  • Initially, you should be working closely with students to monitor their project selections and their progress. Over time, students should begin taking control of their projects as the role of facilitator shifts from you to them.
  • Many teachers find it easier (and more natural) to allot entire class periods to working on Phase 3. This gives students who are working on projects a sizable amount of time to work, but if other students are not ready for Phase 3, they can continue their regular reading schedule.


Getting Started
Compile a list of options. Start small and dream big.

  • Consider student abilities, interests, and expression styles
  • Show examples of completed products, performances, or services.
  • Consider traditional and nontraditional choices.
  • Start with fewer options and expand the menu over time.
  • Realize that not all students will be ready for Phase 3 at the same time.
  • Look for opportunities for students to serve others, address real-world problems, and/or present to authentic audiences other than the teacher.