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Boards, Menus, and Choices, Oh My!

November 5, 2020 by Janessa Fletcher

Choice empowers students as well as provides a tiered approach for teachers to differentiate allowing for more of a challenge and to scaffold appropriately. In general, choice making is a behavioral strategy that can reduce problem behaviors, increase motivation, and on task behavior. One way to incorporate choice into your classroom is through the use of Choice Boards or Learning Menus

“There’s No Place Like Home”…  Okay, so maybe Dorothy was a little out of it coming from The Land of Oz.  Let’s face it, now that most of our students are through the screen,  this place “like home” is a true challenge.  Virtual classrooms and online learning brings a number of additional stressors and demands for teachers and students.  Although we may be experiencing a plethora of new challenges, one thing remains constant:  the power of choice.   

Choice is an amazing strategy!  Choice works during in person teaching as well as virtual teaching.  Whether dealing with behavioral situations, academic learning, attention/focusing…choice is a wonderful start. 

“Choice empowers students…”

Learning Menus –

Learning Menus and Choice Boards are extremely similar, typically used in tandem.  The only main difference is that menus are typically set up to be completed in a particular order.  Think of a restaurant menu.  You provide students with a few options to choose from as an “appetizer” or warm up.  Then the student must complete 1-2 “main entree” items that the teacher states.  Next, the student needs to choose a certain number of “side dishes” to complete.  Finally, a choice of a “dessert” activity. (That is usually the most fun of all of the activities… LOL)

Menus can be incorporated into daily routines and across the curriculum.  For example, ETTC created a wonderful learning menu using sight words and manipulatives.  Using a variety of manipulatives and objects, students are asked to complete a series of sight word creations.

Your students can practice a given sight word 8 different ways with our Sight Word Activity Menus. Options include pattern blocks, Q-tip painting, and Legos.

A “Tic-Tac-Toe” menu is a great and easy start in providing choice to your students.  Here is a FREE Tic-Tac-Spell menu that can coordinate to any spelling list!  Students are expected to choose three different activities to complete to create a line as you would in the game of Tic-Tac-Toe.  Feel free to use this concept across subjects! And as an added bonus, it is editable! I recommend pairing the menu with our Editable Spelling Activities for Any Word List

Editable Spelling activities that can be used on a learning menu for spelling or word work
This editable spelling resource contains 30 different activities that quickly populate once you type the words in the word list. No more searching for and creating spelling activities. With this resource it literally takes less than 10 minutes!

Choice Boards –

Choice Boards provide a variety of experiences and formats.  Typically, a teacher can provide 4-9 options on a choice board keeping age-appropriateness in mind.  As students complete these boards they have the opportunity to learn what types of activities work best for them and their own learning.  It is important when designing choice boards that you focus on the objectives of the lesson, not just picking a variety of tasks to complete.  Some options that could be included in your choice board are:

  • Independent reading of a specific book 
  • Listening to a recording or video of a specific book 
  • Interactive online game to reinforce the objective
  • Create 3 questions and record a friend’s answers
  • Create a Who? What? When? Where? list
  • Illustrate or create a collage to go along with the story
  • Find an unfamiliar word in the story and search for the definition online
  • Record your voice stating a summary or write a summary

The teacher directs the process overall, however the student gets the choice of options and the order they complete activities.  After the learning menu/choice board is completed by the class, you can return to whole group and allow the students to “jigsaw” or have an open discussion of what they learned or completed for the objective.  If you are feeling creative you can also incorporate choice into both formative and summative assessments to allow the students to demonstrate understanding!  The possibilities are endless with Learning Menus and Choice Boards.

Written by: Christopher Olson

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