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Why Use Choice Boards with Students?


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What is a choice board?

Foster engagement and personalization in the classroom while empowering your students with these high-interest templates!

Choice boards, also known as learning menus or choice menus, are powerful tools that provide students with a variety of learning activities and tasks they can choose to complete.

The best part is that choice boards are designed to give students a degree of autonomy and ownership over their learning while still ensuring they meet specific educational objectives or standards. They are not intended to be filled with busy work or filler activities.

In the past, choice boards consisted of a grid or a list of activities, each representing a different way for students to engage with the material. We have massively upgraded our choice boards to be interactive and highly engaging for students with our fun themes. (Keep reading to see what we’re talking about.)

You have the freedom to select the activities for your students, and they have the choice of which ones they wish to complete.

So you can create these boards in any format you prefer, including content, difficulty level, and the number of tasks you want your students to complete.

They decide which tasks align with their preferences, learning styles, and abilities. It’s a win-win situation!

Why choice boards for students?

Using choice boards in the classroom can be a highly effective strategy for promoting student engagement and personalization of learning experiences.

Here are 7 reasons why using choice boards is a good idea:

1. Differentiated instruction: Choice boards allow you to cater to various learning styles and abilities because you can offer a variety of options for students to choose from. You can even create different choice boards for different students or groups of students. Scaffolding and enrichment made easy!

2. Student ownership & motivation: When students have a say in what they learn and how they demonstrate their understanding, they’re obviously more motivated and enthusiastic about their work. Not to mention deeper learning is going to happen. (Imagine if all our teacher PDs were like that! 😉 )

3. Easy to address students’ IEP goals: Choice boards enable teachers to design activities that align with specific learning goals, great for meeting those IEP goals.

4. Flexibility: Choice boards are super versatile. They can be used across any subject and grade level, making them the ultimate tool. (Our blank templates are awesome for this!)

5. Personalized assessment tools: You can even use choice boards for assessments. Measure student learning without using a typical test. Instead, assess students’ skills and knowledge in a way that suits their preferences and abilities.

6. Creativity and critical thinking: Many choice board activities encourage creative and critical thinking as students must decide which tasks to complete and how to approach them.

7. Independence and responsibility: By making choices about their learning, students develop important life skills such as time management, decision-making, and accountability.

What are choice boards good for?

There are tons uses for choice boards in your classroom that go beyond early finisher activities.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite choice template ideas:

What do you put on a choice board?

You might be wondering what kinds of activities to include on a choice board. You can incorporate a wide range of options, from brain dumps to linked websites or having students demonstrate their learning through art.

First and foremost, it’s important to consider the learning goals you have for your students when deciding which activities to include.

Review your curriculum and identify the learning objectives for the unit or lesson. Create activities that directly address these objectives, ensuring alignment with the content you’re teaching.

Then decide what kind of choice board to use and how many choices you want to give your students. If you use a template with a lot of boxes like Connect 4 or BINGO, these are great for early finisher activities. 

Once those things are decided, come up with your choice ideas.

Here are some ideas for the types of activities you can include:

1. Student interests: Consider the interests and passions of your students. Use your back to school interest surveys or use what you’ve learned about your students over the last months. For example: 

  • Pop Star Math: Choose a favorite pop star or celebrity and research their concert tour schedule. Calculate the total number of concerts, the distance they’ll travel, and the potential earnings from ticket sales.
  • Famous Athlete Statistics: Select a popular athlete and research their career statistics, such as points scored, goals made, or home runs. Practice math operations by performing calculations based on their stats.
  • Science Lovers: Offer books or articles about space, AI, or new science breakthrough. Have students read and explain a science concept they found interesting through a mini-poster, recorded news report, or piece of writing.

2. Differentiated choices: Create activities to accommodate various learning styles, abilities, and cross curricular connections. Include options for visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile learners to keep students interested. For example:

  • Let students create image collages of vocab words
  • Teach friends how to solve a math problem using a video
  • Act out a historical event

3. Real-world fun: Integrate real-world applications into your activities. Show students the practical significance of what they’re learning by connecting it to their daily life.  For example:

  • Create a growth mindset poster for the hallway
  • Write a persuasive letter to the principal an issue they want to change
  • Create a grocery shopping list based on a budget and grocery store advertisement to address money standards.

4. Technology integration: Leverage technology to enhance choice board activities. Include options for your tech-loving students like:

  • Online research
  • Interactive learning apps
  • Creating Google Slides presentations around a topic 

5. Peer collaboration: Design activities that encourage collaboration among students. Incorporate group projects, debates, or peer teaching opportunities to promote teamwork and social skills. For example:

  • Have students create a crossword puzzle around natural resources and have a friend solve
  • Let students work together to study an ecosystem and create a collaborative Google Slides presentation about the animals, climate, and plants
  • Have students exchange word problems with their classmates during your fractions unit

6. Student input: You can also involve students in the activity creation process. After students have completed choice boards during the year and know how they work, ask them to suggest activities or project ideas that they find exciting and meaningful, or choices they liked on previous boards. This not only empowers them but also increases their investment in the learning process.

Why use a digital choice board?

First, let’s discuss the significant advantages of using a digital choice board over a paper copy.

The first and most obvious advantage is that you don’t need to worry about making paper copies or replacing lost choice boards. Less teacher stress? Yes, please.

You can simply share the link to your digital choice board on Google Classroom or wherever you share it with students.

Add the choice board under one of your topic sections in Google Classroom so students always know where to find it or pin it to the top.

Another reason why digital choice boards surpass paper copies is that you can add links to any text or image. This allows students to easily explore websites and access videos. It also provides you with more space to explain student choices beyond a single box.

You can link to other slides in the presentation, turning your choice board into a mini-game or adventure.

I particularly love using an adventure around the world template. Students can complete the activity aligned with your curriculum, and afterward, they can explore a place in the world. They will thoroughly enjoy collecting passport stamps and discovering the location on Google Earth.

I also love using a video game template. Students earn points on each level by completing one of the choices. Level one includes lighter activities, and level 4 can include more thought-provoking choices. Students adore anything that resembles a video game.

As a bonus, you could also make it a two-player game. Just assign one choice board to two students and have them compete to see who can get a higher score!

How to build a digital choice board?

Building a digital choice board can be as easy as inserting a table into Google Slides or Google Docs and typing out student choices in each of the cells, but you can also make it much more enjoyable!

The great thing about choice boards is that you don’t have to include a ton of activities to choose from.

Many of the choice boards you encounter have numerous boxes that require activities to fill them. Sometimes, you might not have 16 or 25 ideas. That’s perfectly fine! Create choice boards with fewer options.

I also highly recommend exploring formats beyond the grid!

Here are 14 ideas for choice boards that are a lot more fun:

AI for Teachers: Sneaky ways to fill your choice board with standards-based choices!

One last thing! Wondering what specifically to include in those choice boards? Let AI help!

You can easily use ChatGPT or another AI service to assist you in generating ideas for filling a choice board.

Here are some tips when writing your prompt into ChatGPT:

  • Specify the type of expert you want it to be. For example: ‘You are an elementary school math curriculum expert and an experienced 3rd grade teacher and choice board expert.’
  • Clearly state the task. For example: ‘Create a student-directed choice board with 7 activities for 2nd graders to practice telling time to the nearest 5 minutes. Students will complete 3 of the activities.’
  • Provide additional details. For example: ‘The choice board should take approximately 60 minutes to complete, with each activity taking around 20 minutes. The tasks should be suitable for classroom use and include high-interest, real-world activities.’
  • Mention any curriculum standards. For example: ‘All of the activities should align with Common Core Standard 2.MD.C.7.’
  • Describe the nature of the activities. For example: ‘These activities should serve as practice or review exercises before an upcoming test.’
  • Specify the language to be used. For example: ‘Use student-friendly instructions and ensure that the choices can be completed independently.’
  • Include any available manipulatives, tools, or technology. For example: ‘In our classroom, we have access to the following resources for inclusion in the choice board: student clocks and Google Slides.’

Of course adjust your prompts and refine them based on the output you receive.

These are just a few of the ways to use choice boards in your classroom. I hope they have inspired you to start generating ideas for your own classroom!

Save time with our ready-to-use templates, so all you have to do is focus on typing in the choices. Click the button below to get them!

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