6 Steps to Creating Custom Choice Boards – SULS0176

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6 Steps to Creating Custom Choice Boards

In this episode, I’m sharing my brand new framework for designing meaningful choice boards for the K-12 classroom.

She will walk you step-by-step through the process to ensure it aligns with your standards and learning outcomes, how to select the choice board style, and share important tips along the way.

Choice boards are a game changer!

Learn how you can implement this strategy, differentiate for your students, and empower them with voice and choice!

6 Steps to Creating Custom Choice Boards

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6 Steps to Creating Custom Choice Boards

This 6 step process is something that has been brewing in my mind over the last several years, and it is definitely still a work in progress. But I wanted to share it with you to help more teachers learn how to create their own custom choice boards.

Choice boards can be intimidating to create from scratch, but they can be so powerful for the classroom.

I also created this handy infographic with the six steps. You can download the PDF here.

I couldn’t fit every detail in the graphic, so be sure to get all the details below.

What is a Choice Board?


Choice boards (aka learning menus) are a form of differentiated learning that give students a menu or choice of learning activities.

  • Choice boards can be created in a variety of styles and mediums.
  • They’ve been around for a long time and originated in a static, paper format.
  • With digital tools, we can bring the menus to life with interactivity and creation.
  • Choice boards are mostly asynchronous! (Learn more about asynchronous learning here.)
  • Every student doesn’t have to do the exact same thing at the exact same time!
  • Choice boards offer a flexible learning path and help us differentiate.
  • Use in ANY grade level or subject area!
  • And, they give students voice and choice in their learning!

“…at its core, differentiated instruction means addressing ways in which students vary as learners.”– Carol Ann Tomlinson

Related: The Teacher’s Guide to Choice Boards

Step 1: Purpose & Delivery

When you are designing a choice board, you should ask yourself:

  • What is the purpose of your choice board?
    • Build background knowledge/access prior knowledge
    • Check for understanding/formative assessment
    • Summative assessment
    • Enrichment
    • Other
  • Where will this be completed?
    • In class
    • At stations
    • In class and homework
    • Homework
    • Online
  • Will these activities be completed independently or collaboratively?
  • How much time should this take?
    • In-class time?
    • Outside of class time?
    • 20/30/45/60 minutes
    • 1 Day
    • 1 Week
    • 6 or 9 Weeks
    •  Semester-long

Step 2: Determine Assessment Evidence

Begin with the end in mind!

Back in episode 10, I did some on-air coaching with Carly Black. Through the coaching process, Carly determined that the choice board she used with her students didn’t assess what she needed to assess.

You always want to ensure that you know the purpose of your choice board and how students can demonstrate mastery.

  • Start with your standards and learning outcomes–what do students need to learn and be able to do?
  • How will you know when they get it?
  • What activities will demonstrate mastery?

Recommended: Use a rubric aligned with the learning outcomes.

  • Rubrics can aid with grading, but the purpose is for the student to understand how they will be assessed, not for the teacher to simplify grading (that’s a bonus!)

Try writing this out in a table:

Learning Outcome How will you know when they get it? What activities demonstrate mastery?
Determine the theme or central idea Correctly identify the story’s theme and can communicate this idea.
  • Create a graphical representation of the theme using Canva.
Construct a summary free of personal opinion Summarize the appropriate text in a concise manner that conveys important events from the story.
  • Write a one-paragraph summary. 
  • Create a conversational comic strip.
  • Doodle and draw a summary representation.

Step 3: Select Activities

After you have brainstormed activities that align with your learning outcomes, select the best ones for your choice board.

  • Each activity should align with one or more of the learning outcomes. You can have several activities aligned with one outcome or separate activities for different outcomes.
  • Will these be digital activities, hands-on, paper-based, or a combination?
  • Determine how many activities you want students to complete. (If less than three, you may not need a choice board.)
  • Some activities can be just consuming content–watching a video, reading an article, etc.
  • Do these activities need further differentiation for skill level, learning style, depth of knowledge, or accommodations?

Continue to make revisions and adjustments to your activity list.

Related: Back to School with Choice Boards (FREE Templates)

Step 4: Must-Do Activities & Free Choice

I’m a fan of the must-do, non-negotiable activity. Usually, there is one thing you want ALL students to do–read this article, watch this video, etc.

This can also come in handy for beginners who don’t want to overwhelm with too many choices.

  • You can add must-do activities to a choice board so that they must be completed alongside other choices. This could also include a teacher-led lesson, a mini-lesson with a small group, a station, or collaboration.
  • Alternatively, you can choose to offer free choice where students propose their own activity. (advanced, not for beginners)

I always use the middle square in my Tic-Tac-Toe Choice Board as the must-do activity. They start there, and then that also gives me more control over how they make their two choices.

Interactive Learning Menus with G Suite

Learn more about my instructional design with Tic-Tac-Toe Choice Boards: Interactive Choice Boards with Google (FREE Templates)

Step 5: Select Choice Board Style

Choice boards can look like anything your little heart can imagine. The possibilities are limitless. However, there are some standard styles th

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