Using Choice Board to Engage and Empower

Does it feel like you are pulling teeth trying to get students to complete work? Do you feel like you spend all day working on planning the next assignment instead of spending your precious time giving students feedback and building relationships? I did, too. I started investing a little bit of time into building distance learning choice boards that have really helped me to increase my productivity through the week while also giving my students more ownership over their learning.

What are choice boards, anyways?

A choice board is a broad term for a method of allowing students to choose assignments to work on throughout the week. It is generally formatted in some type of graphic organizer, like a tic-tac-toe or bingo board. Students spend their school time choosing which assignments to complete based off the teachers criteria. 

But why should I use choice boards?

Choice boards are:

  • easily adaptable across grade levels and subjects
  • allow students to showcase different skills that they have mastered, learn new skills, and even extend their learning
  • give students ownership and flexibility over their learning while allowing the teacher to still being in control of overall learning outcomes
  • they help teachers to do weekly planning, instead of daily planning, allowing for weekday school time to be spent giving feedback to students, making connections, and building relationships.

How do you make a choice board?

I create my choice boards on Google Slides. This allows for anyone to access the choice board, regardless of their device, email, etc. This is important if you want parents to be able to access student assignments. 

There are two very important slides to include in a choice board: the instructions and the activity choices

I always make my instructions the first slide that students see. I include very clear written instructions, along with either video or audio instructions. This is where you can choose your criteria for students. Do you want students to complete one assignment per column? Complete any 4 assignments a day? Make sure your instructions are clear and direct.

The second slide is where students will see their choices for learning opportunities. In this example, the activities are broken down by subject for a self-contained 6th grade classroom. Students will use this same board all week to make their choices on how they want to learn. 

Each activity is linked to a future slide with more detailed instructions and expectations so students know exactly what is expected of them.

Need help adding a link to a future slide? Watch this tutorial

What types of assignments should I include?

An effective choice board has a healthy mix of passive and active learning opportunities. 

Passive learning is very teacher directed, in both method and outcomes. It is important to include passive learning for days when kids are just feeling a bit “meh” about learning, but allow students to disclude it if they want. Too much passive learning often causes disengaged, disempowered, and bored students. 

Active learning opportunities fill the rest of my choice board. These activities allow for multiple learning styles to flourish. They get students up and moving around their environment and interacting with each other. Active learning often helps create more motivated and empowered students.

Need to meet accommodations?

Choice boards are an excellent way to differentiate for your students. Not only can you include a variety of learning styles, but you can include a variety of instructional levels, as well. 

Other students might need a daily choice board. The example below shows how I might differentiate for my select students that may need more structure for their day. 

You can also adjust your criteria for select students to make it more manageable. For example, a student that may not be able to manage a four assignment workload each day, could be asked to submit two or three assignments instead.

How do students access this?

I share my choice boards weekly with students on Seesaw! Every Monday, I share my choice board through a sharable link with students. 

Make sure to update your sharing settings so that anyone with the link can view. This allows parents to be able to see the work your students are doing. You do this by selecting Share, select Advanced, select Change, and update your settings to “On – Anyone with the link”. 

Once you have access to this link, you can share this with students through an announcement, a post, or an activity. When doing so, you need to decide if you want students to leave Seesaw to access this document. I always add it as a link, but do not integrate it with Google Drive, so that the link takes my students right into Google Slides. This allows each link to be clickable, and my video to be easily playable. 

Can I have some examples to work with?

Yes.

Here you can find choice board templates in a shared google drive folder. There are both templates and examples to use, share, or modify. 

Are you using more choice with your students? What methods or mechanisms work well for you? Share some ideas, questions, or even your own examples in the comments!

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