What does COVA look like in the classroom? How and why should I implement it? I discovered these answers and more while implementing a student project with the help of my 6th grade English teacher and librarian. Together, we produced a project centered around the COVA method. COVA, an acronym for giving students Choice, Ownership, and Voice through Authentic learning opportunities, is the fundamental to activating the modern learner and obtaining student learning success (Harapnuik, Thibideaux, & Cummings, 2018).  After implementing our project, I fully endorse the COVA method as I witnessed 6th grade students become exceedingly involved and go far beyond my expectations of what 6th graders are capable of.  In this post I clarify COVA, lay out how the was implemented, and discuss the project’s results.

The Project at a Glance

Planning for the project began simple, with end in mind. Using backwards design planning (such as the 3 Column Table), our ELAR teacher pinpointed the learning target, decided how she would assess it, and how the students might show learning (Fink, 2013).

Screen Shot 2018-11-27 at 12.59.30 PM

Next, the project idea grew by giving choices in what students could present as their project. Our goal was to guide students, not limit their creativity. Our Librarian came up with several great options (See image below). Students would be able to choose how they would tell their original mythology through one of the five project ideas, or create their own method with teacher approval. By giving students a set of options we set a foundation for our project expectations.

Screen Shot 2018-11-27 at 12.43.57 PM

After creating a plan for student choice, our focus became having students find Ownership and Voice in an Authentic project. We figured if we could accomplish this we could get students really excited about the project. So what does the Ownership-Voice-Authentic component mean? We approached it this way; how can we extend the project beyond the routine of students turning in projects to their teacher for a grade?

Our solution was to share projects on campus info TV’s placed along our school’s main hallway, essentially making the project more authentic. This required us to turn the presentation pieces into digital pieces. To do this, we suggested and paired apps with specific student creative pieces (i.e. keynote worked very well with Kamishibai, iMovie for recording shadow puppets, Garage Band for radio script, etc.). By allowing students to share their work with the school the project really took off. We saw a dramatic increase in student ownership as students worked diligently and collaboratively in class. Many student groups worked beyond school hours to give their best work. Students found their voice as we guided them and provided options, not solutions. We worked with groups to create their very own chinese mythology, develop a script/story book/rough draft, provided options for which technology pieces they could use, and how they would present. Students knew it was their project and wanted to show off their best work to friends and staff.

So COVA is awesome, but how did we pull it off?

To help organize the project and not overwhelm students we chunked the project into different stages over the course of a week:  Review Chinese Mythology Themes; Planning & Development; Practice and Performance; Uploading & Completion. Specifically, our days looked like this: on Day 1 we assigned groups, reviewed themes in Chinese mythology, derived themes from Chinese mythology for students to choose from, and began planning their story. Day 2 saw students finish developing their plan and begin working on story development with the help of graphic organizers/storyboards. On Day 3 we finally revealed the presentation options to students while students finished their story or script and began making props and/or practicing their performance. Day 4 had students perform and record their presentations while Day 5 was reserved for groups to finish and upload projects into Google Classroom. By chunking the project into different sections we were able to keep students on pace to complete the project and verify student understanding of the topic and how it tied into the learning objective.

To sum it up, this project went fantastically well. Students were focused, creative, collaborative, and excited about learning. This was all thanks to the COVA method. By incorporating the COVA method we managed to go beyond the routine of student work = teacher grading. Students found their voice when given choices and took ownership in an assignment that went beyond the teacher. Overall, I can’t wait to do more projects like this and share this with you in hopes of inspiring you to find ways to incorporate the benefits of COVA into your classrooms.


If you are interested in more about project details, please see below.

Chinese Mythology Project Handout

Chinese Mythology Rubric

Student Stop Motion Example

Student Kimishibai Example

Student Shadow Puppet Example


Featured Image Source:

Harapnuik, D. (2018). Cova eBook. Retrieved from http://www.harapnuik.org/?page_id=7291.



Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. John Wiley & Sons.

Harapnuik, D. K., Thibodeaux, T. N., & Cummings, C. D. (2018). Choice, Ownership, and Voice through Authentic Learning Opportunities. http://www.harapnuik.org/?page_id=7291

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