Choice Boards

Choice boards give students autonomy and choice in their learning while allowing teachers to differentiate, observe, and assess in real time
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Choice Boards
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About This Strategy

A choice board is a graphic organizer that allows your 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 your students with new information, to have your students practice and master academic content, to assess student mastery, or as a combination of all three. Choice boards increase student ownership and provide you with opportunities to differentiate and support students at their individual learning levels.

Plan It

Prior to implementing choice boards, it is important that you strategically plan for implementation by completing the following:

  1. Identify the learning focus or learning outcome for your choice board.
    • What do you want students to practice or master?
  2. Determine what type of choice board you will use (Examples: 3x3, Bingo, Tic-Tac-Toe, Blended (paper-and-pencil and digital activities), Digital, etc.)
    • If you're not sure of which type of choice board to use, you can watch the video in the coach tips section below.
  3. Determine what modifications students may need to be successful with the choice board. 

    • Review the EL Modification and Special Education Modification sections below for support.

  4.  Create the appropriate number of different tasks based on student readiness, learning styles, interests, and instructional needs. 
  5. Arrange the tasks on a choice board template based on your use.
    • See the example templates in the resource section below.

Practice It

Now that you have created your choice board, it is time to implement it with students.  

  1. Introduce the choice board to students. 
    • It is important to model how to complete the choice board with students and expectations for engaging with the choice board.
    • Be sure to share with students how to access the choice board and the materials needed for the choice board activities.
  2. Have students complete a designated number of assignments from the choice board. 

  3. While students are working through their choice board activities, use the time to individually conference with students on their progress, questions, sticking points, etc.
  4. Optional: Consider providing students with a rubric to assess their work.

Reflect and Refine

After you begin implementing choice boards, consider the following:

  • What went well? What was challenging? 
  • Did the students meet the objectives? Why or why not?
  • What iterations should be made to the choice boards?
  • What was the feedback from your students? How can you incorporate their feedback into the next iteration?
  • What additional ways can you use choice boards? (Homework, review, etc.)
  • How can you use different types of choice boards to keep students engaged?

After engaging in reflection, determine any changes and go through the planning and implementation steps again. 

Special Education Modification

Nedra MassenburgDEMO
Special Education Specialist

Choice boards are a great option for students with disabilities because they allow the integration of activities that are appropriate for these specific learners while still giving them choice. 

Effective use of choice boards require a variety of skills: emotional regulation, executive functioning (task initiation, prioritization, working memory, etc.), written expression, reading, and/or verbal skills.  In order to support students with disabilities who have difficulty in these areas consider the following modifications:

Modifications:

  1. Students with 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. See the "How to Adapt Your Teaching Strategies to Student Needs" and the "Resource Gallery of Interventions: Choice Boards" resources in the resource section below for more information.
  2.  Use visual aids, timers, and verbal reminders to help students with task initiation and task completion when using choice boards. As an example, a teacher may say, “Now you will have 30 seconds to choose your first activity number on your choice board.  After the timer for 30 seconds goes off, everyone will have five minutes to complete your first activity.”

  3. If multiple teachers are present in a setting, consider having one teacher work in a small group of students with disabilities to provide them more modeling and more frequent feedback during their practice.

EL Modification

Shannon Coyle
English Learner Specialist

Choice boards are a wonderful way to engage English learners in choosing how they will practice skills. Learners are granted the opportunity to follow their own path and teachers are able to differentiate activities based on students' needs. 

English learners using choice boards are required to listen to and follow directions. Students may use all four domains of language: reading, writing, speaking and listening to interact with the activities on their choice boards. In order to support English Learners consider the following modifications:

Modifications:

  1. Ensure English learners understand all directions on their choice boards before beginning independent work e.g., ask for learners to restate directions. If the activities are new to learners, consider previewing or partnering with learners’ language specialist to preview for learners at lower levels of proficiency. See the "Teacher Tool: Leveled Question Stem" resource in the resource section below for more information.
  2. Provide a variety of ways for learners at lower levels of proficiency to express learning including drawing, short phrases, matching words and pictures, multiple-choice, and cloze worksheets. Aim to create activities that use all four domains of language: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Use data about learners’ language levels to determine appropriate activities. See the "Descriptions of What Learners "Can Do" at Various Language Levels" and the "How to Use "Can Do" Descriptors in Designing Learning Activities" resources in the resource section below for more information.
  3. Consider creating an alternative choice board. Use data about learners’ language levels to determine appropriate activities. Consider partnering with English learners’ language specialist to discuss what topic or skills you are targeting and work together to design appropriate activities. Aim to create activities that use all four domains of language: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. See the "Descriptions of What Learners "Can Do" at Various Language Levels" and the "How to Use "Can Do" Descriptors in Designing Learning Activities" resources in the resource section below for more information.
  4. Perform 1:1 check-ins with English learners. Use the independent work time to give English learners an opportunity to use their academic language, and teachers a chance to formatively assess content language use. 
  5. Provide English learners with familiar reference sheets such as graphic organizers, word banks, sentence stems, formula sheets, etc., to use as needed during activities.
  6. Provide comprehensible content in activities that require learners to read-to-learn. Consider providing home language content as available during independent or technology-based activities. When available, home language content can be a powerful tool in developing and progressing skills. See the "Research and Bilingual Content Resources" in the resource section below for more information.

Coach Tips

Not sure what type of choice board to use in your classroom? Check out this video to help you decide!

Questions to Consider

  • 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?

BetterLesson Lessons

If you'd like to learn more about implementing choice boards into your lessons, you can review the lesson plans below.

BetterLesson Blogs

To learn more about how different teachers have approached using choice boards in their classrooms, you can read these BetterLesson blogs.

 

Additional Reading

For more information on choice boards, explore the resources linked below.

Research Base

Strategies That Differentiate Instruction (Source: Kentucky Department of Education)

Impact of Student Choice and Personalized Learning (Source: Hanover Research)