In my most recent article for the Learning Disabilities Association LD Online, I share a message about the power of “Choice.” Choice is one of the greatest motivators and also one of the most powerful tools in setting up differentiated learning pathways and a differentiated classroom. Who doesn’t love “choice?” As adults we prefer to have choice in our staff book studies, Professional Development, and class schedules. As teachers, we have diverse learning needs and a range of instructional repertoires and needs. Thus, we too, desire to have autonomy in matching and crafting professional development tailored to our own learning. When I presented my Literacy Seminar for the Bureau of Education Research, at the end of each powerful literacy strand, I provided teachers choice in how they wanted to continue their own individual learning. For example, after we explored high yield vocabulary strategies, teachers were provided choice in developing their own practice based on their students’ needs. I will be offering this professional development on Powerful Literacy Strategies & Interventions with the Bureau of Education Research next school year as well. In order to request onsite training visit http://www.ber.org/onsite/bio.cfm?CR=AHF. Below, I provide a few examples of different instructional strategies that I use to provide educators choice in exploring strategies that would move their students’ achievement forward.
Likewise, choice can also provide students with options to navigate content and show their mastery of material. Choice reduces learning barriers because it sets up opportunities for students to use their preferred learning style. Choice Boards are one of the greatest strategies I have found successful in supporting student learning in differentiated classrooms. For my the full article on the Power of Choice for students- visit http://exclusive.multibriefs.com/content/using-choice-to-motivate-and-differentiate.
To support the starting journey of using choice boards, check out daretodifferentiate.wikispaces.com to explore hundreds of pre-created choice boards for various concepts in all subject areas. I am sharing a few examples of choice boards.
An important take away: you really can’t go wrong with providing “choice.” I suggest starting small. Sometimes too much choice can be overwhelming, much like the many, similar choices provided to me in this gorgeous picture (taken by Jason Flakes- Nomoi Design). While in Dubai at a Bedouin village, I wanted to purchase a sand glass souvenir. In this picture, you can see that our talented friend (Kamal) provided me with lots of choice, perhaps too much choice for someone easily overwhelmed. So perhaps to introduce students to choice boards, you could start small with just three or six boxes and expand it slowly throughout the year. Be sure to teach students the routine, then practice and provide immediate feedback as students complete squares. To support successful on-task behavior, I always set up a visible timer to help pace students, and I create an organizer so students can self-monitor their choices.
Get ready to watch your crowd take off in excitement!