Differentiated Instruction

Using Choice Boards for Students to Differentiate Instruction

9 Min Read
Choice boards differentiation hero

Debating an issue in the news. Making a video to show understanding of a math concept. Acting out a scene in a story. These activities may spark joy in one student and dread in another. So how do you get every kid invested in their learning?

Try creating choice boards for students. Use the templates we've designed to encourage them to follow their interests, practice decision-making, and explore who they are as learners. Choice boards are also a great way to differentiate learning, which has many benefits, including increased student engagement and improved academic outcomes.

What Is a Choice Board?

A choice board is a menu of activity options that allows students to choose the way they practice a skill or show what they know. Let’s say your students are learning about climate change in science class. A choice board can give them a variety of ways—write a news report; draw a diagram; make a mini documentary—to demonstrate what they’ve learned.

While choice boards can focus on a particular subject or lesson, they can also be more general. For example, you could design a choice board for early finishers. A general choice board might provide options that allow students to choose the subject (science, math, social studies) they’d like to study, or the skill (writing, drawing, reading) they’d like to practice.

Teachers can either provide the options or brainstorm a list of options with students. The important part is that the board provides choices for what, and how, students learn.

Tips for Creating Choice Boards

Here are steps you can take to ensure the choice boards you create achieve the learning goals you have in mind for students.

  1. Identify the objective. Think about what you’d like your students to achieve. Do you want them to show what they’ve learned from a lesson? Practice a skill? Tackle an end-of-unit project? Complete an activity independently while you work with small groups?
  2. Make a list of ways students can achieve the objective using a range of skills and resources. If your students have access to technology, provide options for them to incorporate it. But also consider that some students may want hands-on options that utilize paper and pencil, paints, clay, and other materials.
  3. Consider teaming up with colleagues to create choice boards for an entire grade (i.e., choice boards based on a subject, skill, lesson, or unit) or for the entire school (i.e., choice boards for summer school or remote learning).
  4. Ask for student input on the activities that you include in choice boards.

Choice Board Examples from HMH

Choice boards can be tailored to specific ELA, math, science, or social studies lessons. They can be used for remote learning, classroom activity centers, homework assignments, or assessments.

Check out our choice board examples below. We provide completed boards as well as blank ones that can be tailored to your needs. Continue scrolling for a range of choice boards created by teachers.

1. Learning Choices Game Board

We’ve created a game board of learning options that you can use for remote learning, classroom centers, early finishers, and even homework assignments. Students roll a die to determine which activities to complete. Learning options include the following:

  • Conduct a survey and graph the results.
  • Invent a new use for a household item.
  • Read a picture book without looking at the words.
  • Devise a solution to a community problem.

You can choose this ready-to-go choice board, or create your own using the blank learning-choices game board.

2. Brain Breaks Choice Board

Research shows that breaks from academic work can actually help us learn new skills. Let students decide how to use their downtime. Download our brain breaks choice board, or create your own using the blank template.

3. Assessment Choice Board

When students learn something new, give them the opportunity to choose how they demonstrate understanding. You might find that when students are given this choice, they are more invested in the process. Use our assessment choice board, or create your own using the blank template.

4. Project-Based Choice Board

Instead of asking every student to tackle the same project at the end of a lesson or unit, give them some choices. Better yet, have them brainstorm a list of projects to include in the choice board. There are so many ways for students to show what they know. They might suggest an essay, video, podcast, 3D model, or art piece. Add their project ideas to one of these customizable PowerPoint templates, available with HMH Into Literature.

5. Digital Choice Boards

You can create your own digital choice boards using Microsoft Word, PowerPoint (see the customizable templates in the “Project-Based Choice Board” section above), or Google Slides. The benefits of going digital are that you can include interactive links and more easily display the choice boards for the whole class.

Choice Board Examples from Teachers

For more inspiration, check out these teacher-created choice boards.

1. Digital Choice Board to Keep Kids Learning

Emily Iredale (@mrsiredalein1st on Twitter) created this digital choice board, providing fast finishers in her classroom with activity options like doing an art lesson, reading, or taking a brain break.

Choice Board Fast Finishers Teacher Example

2. Choice Board with Links to Resources

Lauren Kaufman (@Lau7210 on Twitter) created a simple choice board with links to resources like photos, videos, short stories, and graphic organizers that students need to complete the activities.

Choice Board Example Teacher Twitter

Share Choice Board Ideas

Have some creative choice board ideas of your own? We’d love to hear about them. Or, if you’ve tried any of our choice boards for differentiated instruction with your class, let us know how they worked. Connect with us on Twitter (@HMHCo) or Facebook, or email us at shaped@hmhco.com.

***

Explore how Waggle personalizes practice in math and ELA to help students in Grades K–8 thrive. Request a self-guided demo.

Get our free Reading Intervention eBook today.

Related Reading