Using interactive choice boards is one of my new found loves this school year. One of my personal goals for the year was to increase the amount of differentiation I do. I had a grand vision of incorporating regular small groups (more of an elementary classroom style) this year. Back in March, when I was clueless and hopeful haha, I dreamed up what using regular small groups could look like in a high school classroom. Oddly enough, I was inspired by some elementary school teachers with the rotational groups they implement on a regular basis.
When our school decided to start out 100% remote, I knew small groups and the differentiation I imagined would be too much to tackle. However, I still longed for a way to add some choice into my lessons. I stumbled across some writing prompts with various levels of differentiation and then it hit me. Interactive choice boards might be the way to go.
In my Teachers Pay Teachers store, you will see I have a variety of choice boards. Here’s a running list of the choice boards I have created so far.
Each of these serves a unique purpose in my lessons, but ultimately each one is centered around providing students with choice. Students love options. They love feeling they have a say in the matter of their learning, which I absolutely believe is key. Students must feel ownership, and a connection, to the work they are doing. However, there are times when a skill needs to be practiced and fine-tuned. Students can still experience choice while also putting in the necessary work.
I try to structure any large project with various levels of choices, which is a relatively simple way to differentiate an assessment or assignment. These choice boards are another simple way to give students options while also assessing and practicing skills. I want to go through the vision I had for each of the choice boards and explain why there are so many of them. Here are some practical ways to use each choice board.
Assign a different amount for each student to complete.
For example, you could have students who you want to push a little harder complete 15/15 tasks on the choice board. While other students might complete 10/15 or even less.
Create tiered levels of difficulty. For example, maybe you had your students read a short story. For choices 1-5, you could have basic comprehension questions for students to recall specific information from the story. For choices 6-10, you could create reflection questions that encourage a deeper look at the story and maybe have students practice identifying themes and use textual evidence to support the themes. For stations 11-15, you could have students apply the story to real-life and analyze those details.
Having the options tiered could allow you to assign different students different work. Maybe you tell them to pick two from each category or tell certain students to only pick between numbers 1-5. I can guarantee this is an easy yet highly effective way to differentiate your lessons.
Use these as extra credit and assign a point amount for each one completed.
Extra credit is sometimes difficult to come up with. Any of these choice boards would be an excellent way for students to receive extra credit. You could assign them a certain amount to complete and let them choose which ones they want to do for extra credit. Or you could assign the entire board for extra credit.
Have students complete each prompt but allow them to complete them in the order they choose.
Using this approach would pair well with a writing unit aligning with your topic. Students could work on these over the course of a unit and submit their work at the end.
Use as a daily quick write/journal when students come to class.
If you have some dead space you need to fill at the beginning of class, these would be an excellent way to practice writing skills in the extra time you have.
Next, I want to give you a preview of each of the choice boards and explain my vision behind each one.
1. Personal Narrative Writing Prompts
These prompts are all personal questions for students to answer. For example, one of the prompts states, "Write about a time you felt the most accomplished. What happened? Why did you feel this way? " These prompts would also make an excellent way to kick off a school year. You can learn a lot about your students' personal lives through these writing prompts.
2. Fictional Narrative Writing Prompts
These prompts allow students to practice writing fictional narratives. You could use these to introduce a short story unit and practice the techniques of creative writing in a short story. For example, one of the prompts states, "Imagine you’re at the store with friends. Suddenly, the roof collapses from an alien invasion. Write about your experience."
3. Opinion Writing Prompts
You could use these opinion writing prompts to introduce an argumentative essay unit. Students can express their thoughts and opinions while citing sources to support their arguments. For example, one of the prompts states, "Do you think our world is better or worse than it was five years ago? Why do you believe this? What has made it better or worse? "
4. Informative Writing Prompts
You could use these informative writing prompts to practice the skill of informing the reader about a topic. Students could use any of these prompts to start an informative essay. For example, one of the prompts states, "Write a biography about an inspirational person in your life. This could be someone you personally know or someone you admire."
5. Respons to Literature Prompts
You could use these literature prompts to pair with any short story or novel. These prompts are generalized enough to pair with whatever literary text you use. For example, one of the prompts states, "If you could change the ending of the story, what would you alter? How would you change it and why? "
6. Story-Starter Prompts
The story-starter prompts would pair well with a short story unit. Students could select any of these prompts to kick-start their story. You could also have them combine a few of these story starters to test their abilities to match the tone or mood. For example, one of the prompts states, "Life is full of unexpected surprises. That’s what happened to me the other day. I was in my room when suddenly..."
7. Inspirational People
I think this choice board is my favorite. Students have eight different inspiring people to learn about. This was designed to be used as a research activity. You could have students work collaboratively to research each inspiring person. Or you could have students select one person to research from the choices. This activity would make an excellent introduction to a research paper. Students could select one person to write their entire paper on, after researching each person. However you use this, I feel it would be highly beneficial to incorporate.
8. Inspirational Quotes
This choice board has a wide variety of inspiring quotes for students to analyze and respond to. This resource was intended to be used as a whole class response. You could adjust this and make it an individual assignment, which would be easy to adapt. Due to these being completely editable/customizable, you could make any changes you needed. One way to use this would be to select quotes from an upcoming book, story, or text. Next, you would place the selected quotes in each of the stations. Students could preview the text by responding to the quotes without any previous knowledge. Another way to utilize this would be, using the quotes already provided by me, have students practice interpreting a quote. An additional way would be to select quotes all from the same person and have students make inferences about the person from each of their quotes.
**The "Inspirational People" & "Inspirational Quotes" Choice Boards come in a bundle if you would like to grab both at a discounted price (see graphic below).
One way to use the reading choice board is to give students different reading options (articles, short stories, or even books) to choose from. Students could select whichever text they would like to complete their task. Another way to use this would be for students to read a brief description (even the portion on the back of the book) and make a selection based upon the summary. This would pair well with a book choice unit as an introductory task.
10. Fall Themed This choice board is seasonal with a total of six writing prompts. Personally, I used these as a "filler" activity during the fall. I wanted to do something seasonal and have students practice writing with a specific tone and create a mood. Here's an example of one of the story starters, "The wind blew in through the window. I could sense someone was behind me..."
However you choose to use these, I hope these are beneficial to you and your students. The power of choice is a basic principle but it can provide so much for both students and teachers. If you are having a difficult time choosing one choice board, you can grab numbers 1-6 as a bundle. You can also grab numbers 7 & 8 as a bundle too. Both of these bundles come at a discounted price.
Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to leave a comment or message me on Instagram @coffeestainedlessons. I hope these can spark ideas in your lessons and provide a space for students to engage in their learning in a new way.