I’m convinced that there are three types of teachers out there. Those who use and love choice boards, those who are afraid to try choice boards and those who have never heard of them. IF a teacher has used choice boards, chances are they LOVE them. The rest of you – are either a little worried about the lack of control or you haven’t heard of them at all.
So, what are choice boards? Let’s back up a second. When you were getting your teaching degree, you probably heard about “multiple intelligences” over a million and a half times. As a classroom teacher, you’ve realized that not every student learns the same. Heck, you don’t learn the same as the teacher in the classroom next to you. Choice boards provide you with the opportunity to get an understanding of student knowledge while putting the way they demonstrate that knowledge in their hands. Yep – it’s time to let go of the reigns and let them take control.
Giving up control can be a little frightening. As teachers, we are planners. We are so used to knowing exactly what we will be assigning and exactly what will be coming back. We assigned a report? A report comes in. We assigned a puzzle? A puzzle comes in. Easy peasy. Except…. when we assign something that we think will be fabulous and in reality, it just doesn’t work for everyone. I truly believe that SO many students struggle in math because it is so heavily focused on worksheets and written explanations. There are so many students that don’t learn best through notes and worksheets, so they will be unable to really demonstrate their understanding on a worksheet or something similar.
First – The end of the year is ROUGH. Kids are checking out, you are checking out and the last thing any student wants to do is work. You know it’s true. The closer the end of the year approaches, the more students feel as though they are just doing “busy work”. If students don’t feel like the work they are doing is for a purpose and don’t feel as though they have ownership when it comes to that work, they are 100% not going to give their best effort. Choice boards provide students with variety while providing you with the satisfaction of knowing they are doing something that matters.
Second – Choice boards give students a choice. If they are not artistic, they don’t have to use art skills. If they love technology, they can use technology. In my classroom, I always went by the theory that as long as you arrived at the correct answer and your process was logical and actually worked over and over again, I didn’t care if you followed “the rules.” Choice boards work the same way. Students can show you that they have an understanding of a certain skill in a way that works for them.
Third – Choice boards are FUN to grade. Go back and read that again. I just used the words FUN and GRADE in the same sentence and it wasn’t a typo. Grading worksheets is SO boring. Grading assessments – no better. Grading 100 PowerPoint presentations…. well that gets old too. Grading choice boards doesn’t get old because you never know what you will be getting. In one class you could end up grading 20 different types of products all centered around the same topic. That may sound like a nightmare to those of you who are super organized – but trust me, it’s not. You’ll go from grading some student produced “textbook pages” to a student made set of foldable notes and then watch a video of a student who made a commercial. You get to see your students shine in ways you may not have seen before.
Try something different as the school year comes to a close. You will probably fall in love with this new method of informal assessment and find a way to incorporate it into your classroom throughout the next school year.
Grab a choice board resource to try in your classroom next week! ——> Click Here!