A choice board is a graphic organizer that allows students to move at their own pace and have choice over what they learn and how they interact with the content. Students are able to choose which activity they are most comfortable completing first, master that activity, and then can move to other activities on the choice board. Choice boards can take several different formats, but all choice boards are focused on students’ specific learning needs, interests, and skills. Choice boards can be easily adapted across all grade levels and content areas. The choice board strategy can be used to present students with new information, to have students practice and master academic content, to assess student mastery, or as a combination of all three. Choice boards increase student ownership and provide teachers with opportunities to differentiate and support students at their individual learning levels.
Identify the learning focus or learning outcome for your choice board; this is the topic you want students to practice, master, or demonstrate their mastery of. Identify the learning target, and decide how much time students will have to complete the choice board (i.e. one day, two days, one week). This will help you decide what types of activities to create.
Create the appropriate number of different tasks based on student readiness, learning styles, interests, and instructional needs. These activities and assignments should all assess mastery of the same learning focus, but have varying levels of difficulty and styles of engagement. For each activity, students should have the skills to do the majority of the work on their own or with a peer.
Arrange the tasks on a choice board template based on your use (see “Purpose/Use” below).
Give each student a paper or digital version of the choice board and any instructions they will need to complete the activities.
When presenting the choice board to students, you may want to give them specific instructions on how to select which activities they will complete and how to pace themselves through the work. Model and/or debrief how to select an appropriate activity from the board. Remind students to consider their learning style and what activity is appropriate for them.
You may also want to provide a packet or designated place for student work, individual calendars for students to map out their pacing plan and work completion, or a tracker for students (and you) to monitor their progress.
Optional: If this is a multi-day assignment, consider creating either a calendar for students to track their progress or a daily goal so students can monitor their progress throughout the activity.
Have students complete a designated number of assignments from the choice board.
While students are working through their choice board activities, use the time to individually conference with students on their progress, questions, sticking points, etc.
Optional: Provide students with a rubric for the areas of growth and achievement you plan to assess. Consider the assessment options for students (self-assessment, peer assessment, formative assessment) and introduce the assessment options to students so they know what they are preparing for.
A blended choice board has the same purpose as the choice board above, but it integrates technology into the activity options. Blended choice boards are used to support students to make appropriate choices about what activities to complete during a unit. Students are encouraged to select activities based on their learning style. Blended choice boards can include various technologically enhanced pieces including hyperdocs that link to online activities or assessments, video webcasts or podcasts for learning or review, online tools for research and creation, etc.
Model with students how to access the various tech tools and how to navigate the blended choice board.
Set clear expectations about internet and technology use.
Tic-Tac-Toe choice boards give students the opportunity to participate in multiple tasks that allow them to practice skills they’ve learned in class or to demonstrate and extend their understanding of concepts.The choice board is set up like a tic-tac-toe game, where students have to complete 3 assignments in a row (vertical, horizontal, or diagonal) to complete the game. The teacher can either designate the middle spot as a “free space” where students can choose what to complete or can pick a specific assignment or assessment for the middle spot that all students must complete.
Model with students how they complete the board: complete 3 assignments in a row (vertical, horizontal, or diagonal) to finish the choice board.
Optional: Select one required task or assessment for all students and place it in the center of the board.
Choice Boards - (Source: perry.kyschools.us)
Tic-Tac-Toe Choice Board - (Source: T. Karten)
One purpose of Choice Boards could be to place students into leveled groups and then provide them with scaffolded materials and activities through the choice board based on the group’s level. This allows students to work on activities within their proximal zone of development and to be challenged with meaningful, rigorous content aligned to their level or interest.
Follow the steps listed above for creating a choice board, but create several choice boards focused on each of the leveled group's needs, abilities, interests, etc. Be sure to pick or create activities for each small group that are challenging, but are within the group's proximal zone of development (with support, scaffolds, or their own knowledge, they could complete the assignment with minimal support from the teacher).
Students with learning disabilities could be provided a similar choice board with a smaller set of assignment choices or a smaller number of assignments to complete. Students could also be given a choice board with leveled work based on their accommodations. Choice boards are a great option for students with learning disabilities because they allow the integration of activities that are appropriate for these specific learners while still giving them choice. This allows students to be given the same assignment as their peers with modifications around the number of assignments completed or specific completion expectations for the general assignments.
What is the goal of the choice board?
Are the activities at the student’s developmental level?
What could be challenging about this activity and how could you address these challenges in advance?
How could you ensure that students are getting consistent feedback throughout the unit?
What types of activities and assessments could you create for the choice board?
What activities could you choose to represent various learning styles?
How could you support students to understand their learning style?
How will you support students to make choices that are best for them?
Read the following BetterLesson Blog posts to see how teachers have integrated choice boards into their classrooms.
Strategies That Differentiate Instruction (Source: Kentucky Department of Education)
Impact of Student Choice and Personalized Learning (Source: Hanover Research)