Friday, July 25, 2014

Choice Boards in Math

A choice board is a graphic organizer that allows you to give your students options in their learning activities. It is a great way to incorporate activities that appeal to different learning styles or multiple intelligences and gives students a sense of ownership over their learning. There are various ways to set up a choice board, but it typically consists of 9 squares (although you can have any number you wish) and students choose one square or some combination of squares as designated by the teacher. For example, a tic-tac-toe style choice board is popular, in which each square has one activity and students must select three activities that form a line on the board. 

For templates and guides to get started as well as sample choice boards, check out Dare to Differentiate.

Many people tend to think of math in very black and white terms: you get problems, you give answers, you learn a skill, you do drills, etc. Choice boards would be a great way to put the learning in the hands of the students and make learning math more flexible and enjoyable. Choices for any math concept could include: writing a song, draw an infographic, create a comic, write a poem or story, create questions, complete a brainteaser or challenge, perform a skit, or create a game. Students will naturally choose the options that feel most comfortable to them and that’s how they will learn the best.

Not only do the students benefit by having the choice, the teachers can benefit as well. It becomes a great opportunity to learn from your students – they will come up with things you don’t expect and will use what you learn in the years to come. Seeing what your students choose will also help you get a better understanding of their learning style and preferences which you can use to differentiate instruction. 

Have you used choice boards in your classroom? What are some other pros/cons?


  1. I love this idea because the choices can be at different levels targeting students who are working at various levels of difficulty. It can also be like moving up the ladder. Start with the easiest one, and challenge yourself by moving up to the next, harder one. The questions can also be based on different topics, which could also be cross-currcicular, which is a good idea for those of use teaching multiple subjects.

  2. I haven't used this in my classroom, but I think it is SO important to create ownership in the classroom. It motivates students to push themselves because the idea or choice is their own. Going the other way, the choice board could create a potential problem in that students who are capable of working at more challenging levels but tend to be lazy might make a choice that is below their level. By the time this board is in place, however, we will probably have a decent idea of where students should be and guide them to make appropriate choices.

  3. I have used choice boards in science class, not math class. I never thought to use a choice board in math class, however it seems that within mathematics, student understanding falls within a large spectrum. That being said, math class seems like the perfect opportunity to use choice boards in order to be able to differentiate for our students. It is important for to provide choice for our students in order for them to take control of their learning in a way that is meaningful to them. Also, choice boards serve as a way to ensure students are not completing the same activities over and over again, and are able to practice or express what they have learned in a variety of ways.