Classroom Strategies

Giving Students a Choice with Their Learning

Using academic choice boards to build metacognition

Choice Boards

How do we ensure all of our students are engaged in their learning? How do we create activities that support our students’ learning and still give them choice? How do we differentiate our students’ learning using parallel tasks? The answer to these and many more questions that keep teachers up at night is the implementation of choice boards.

Choice boards can be used in a variety of ways to ensure each of our students is able to develop and apply what they are learning. Most importantly, choice boards encourage our students to own learning by giving them options.

Homework Choice Board

One of the most popular and easy ways to implement choice boards right away is to use it as homework. My grade-level team and I design the homework with the reading, writing, and math standards in mind. We also encourage family involvement. The goal is to practice the standards in an entertaining and purposeful way that does not take away from family time.

Morning Choice Board

I don’t know about you, but I have found many of my students find it difficult to transition from home to school right away. They may need time to transition from playing outside, time to distract them from an incident that happened at home, or time just to transition period. Thus, I implemented the “Morning Choice Board” for the first ten minutes of our day. The goal is to have students engage in purposeful activities that incorporate reading foundational skills and are game-related. They are to choose a different morning choice activity every day. This has reduced tardiness and absenteeism considerably. My students love these games so much they have asked their families to purchase them to use at home.

We chant our “Believer’s Cheer” at the end of Morning Choice to make the clean up as efficient as possible:

At the end of the week, they are to write a reflection of one of the activities including why they chose it, how it has helped them transition to the academic part of the day, and how the choice helped them with their reading, math, or writing.  My kids cannot wait to play: phonics checkers, Boggle, Bananagrams, Apples to Apples, LEGOS, sight word checkers, Rubik’s Cubes, Jenga, or PlayDoh.

Math Choice Boards

Ensuring my students have a choice to show how they are solving problems within our math standards is an imperative part of metacognition. They need to be able to share with me and others why they are choosing the strategy and how it is helping them grow as a mathematician. We incorporate the 8 Standards for Mathematical practices. (Debbie Waggoner has a plethora of resources and posters to explain and emphasize how to implement the 8 Standards for Mathematical Practices: http://www.debbiewaggoner.com/math-practice-standards.html.)

Versatility

Choice boards give students versatility and still set specific perimeters to ensure the standards are met. These options have given my students the opportunity to own their education, discuss their learning, and to determine the next steps to grow as a learner.

Want to connect and learn more? Follow me on Twitter @tikaee

39 thoughts on “Giving Students a Choice with Their Learning

      1. Hello, Thank you for your interest in choice boards. There are a lot of great ideas on the FB post this article. Whenever I create a choice board I always start with the end in mind (What do I want my students to learn and accomplish from completing the choices?). Please feel free to contact me anytime via FB, Twitter, or email (epstet@nv.ccsd.net).

    1. My ELA team does some similar things in our classroom. For example, they have a menu of choices after reading some of our short stories in class, where they can choose how they want to show that deeper understanding. This year we are also going to let them choose why type of book report- type project they would like to complete.

  1. I’d like any ideas for Middle School choice boards for math. I’m not so sure that they will do the activities. I fear they may write something down just to have it in their notebook and good around. Staying on task is real difficult!

    1. If they have a choice in activity, they are WAY more likely to do it. Some may abuse it, but don’t let them dictate what you do that is good for the others. It’s their loss if they just game the system. But HUGE benefits for everyone else.

    1. Hello Everyone, Thank you for your interest in #choiceboards. I have several ideas for grades K-12. Please feel free to contact me at @tikaee via Twitter. I would like to collaborate😊

    2. I’m also interested in how this can be implemented in middle school math. Is there a Forum or group where these are being discussed and/or developed?

  2. Hello Everyone, Thank you for your questions and comments. I would like to collaborate with you. Please message me via Twitter @tikaee or via Voxer tepste325.

  3. Thanks! This may seem like a silly question, but do students on that Homework Choice board select one activity and do it 10 minutes per day each day, or are they to select different activities each day? The top says “10 minutes” but most of those activities seem as though they would take much longer than 10 minutes for a 2nd grader to complete.

    1. Hello Rosie, Thank you for your questions and for your interest in choice boards. A choice might take longer than 10 minutes, but that gives them the option to work on it longer or extend it to the next day. Most of my families tell me the kids don’t even realize that 10 minutes has past😊

  4. Choice boards are great for differentiation. Another idea is to poll students at the beginning of the year and have them come up with choice board ideas you can use. I’ve invited students to have lunch with me so they can explain their ideas. It goes a long way in building rapport and relationships. I’ve taught 5th grade science and LA the last 20 years and this year am moving to 6th grade science.

    1. I would love to try this with my 5th Grade ELA & Writing classes this year! Would you be willing to share some samples to help me share with my class, please?

  5. I love this idea! Has anyone come up with one that could be used at a leadership and/or staff meeting? I’d love to model choice boards with the teachers rather than simply reading and talking about them. Thanks!

    1. Check out Kesler Science! They’re on TpT, and they’re totally worth it! You can buy a week-long lesson that is in the 5E model, and most of them have some kind of choice board in the “Elaboration” part.

      Here’s the website, or just search for Kesler Science on Teacherspayteachers.com
      https://www.keslerscience.com/

  6. Hello Everyone, Thank you for the questions and interest in choice boards. There are several ideas shared in the Facebook post. I make choice boards for my students as needed to support what they are learning. I am happy to brainstorm ideas with you. I always start with the end in mind. Please email me to collaborate.

  7. I love the idea of utilizing choice boards. I believe this would truly encourage students to learn since they have a chance to decide how they will practice a skill since everyone has their preferred learning style. I’m looking forward collaborate emails.

  8. I would lobe to do choice boards. How can I implement this in a once a week class? Health Education is the subject.

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About the Author: Tika is a celebrating her 24th year in education in her hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada. She currently teaches second graders at a Title I Elementary School, teaches pedagogy to Alternate Route to Licensure teachers, and facilitates professional development for new and veteran teachers at the site and at the District Level . When she is not teaching, she enjoys spending quality time with her husband of twenty-two years, their two adult children, and their two dogs.