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EDUC 6103 ISTE Educator Standard 2.7 ISTE Educator Standard 2.7a Reflection

Choice Boards

Image 1: Choice Word Cloud (Dunworth, 2022a).

Have you met the standard? This is a common question in education. As teachers one of our top concerns is whether or not our students have met the learning standard or achieved mastery of the learning objective. ISTE standard 2.7 is about the teacher as an analyst – using data to inform instruction and help students reach goals. 2. 7 a specifically states: “(teachers) provide alternative ways for students to demonstrate competency and reflect on their learning using technology” (ISTE, n.d.). My question for module 3 is: 

What is one app or learning management system (LMS) that teachers can use to allow and encourage students to demonstrate content mastery in an alternative way and reflect upon their learning? 

When considering the phrase “demonstrate content mastery” I immediately thought of choice boards. These have been all the rage in the professional learning networks that I belong to for the last several months. Before I could fully explore different applications or learning management systems, I wanted to explore the importance of choice in education and the effect it has on learning.

Providing choice in the classroom is one of many tools that teachers can use to provide differentiated instruction and differentiated assessment. In any given classroom there are likely to be multiple learning preferences and ability levels, by introducing choices into our teaching practices, we are able to meet the needs of more of our students. Using choice boards in the classroom allows students multiple avenues for demonstrating their learning and gives students the opportunity to take ownership of their learning (Usher, 2019). Many times in school, students feel a lack of autonomy and control. “For choice to be beneficial, it must produce feelings of competence and autonomy” (Deci & Ryan, 2000, as cited in Thompson & Beymer, 2015). This directly relates to self-determination theory and intrinsic motivation. 

Image from: University of Rochester Medical Center (n.d.).

Self-Determination and Choice

Self-determination theory according to Brophy (2004) is defined as follows: “Self-determination theory specifies that social settings promote intrinsic motivation when they satisfy three innate psychological needs: autonomy (self-determination in deciding what to do and how to do it), competence (developing and exercising skills for manipulation and controlling the environment), and relatedness (affiliation with others through prosocial relationships). Competence, autonomy and relatedness combine together to promote intrinsic motivation. How does this relate to choice in the classroom? Choice should be competence enhancing and aligned with a student’s developmental levels (Evans & Boucher, 2015). Students are more likely to be motivated by a challenge that is at an intermediate level, neither too difficult – which would be discouraging or too easy which would be perceived as boring (Evans & Boucher, 2015). It is also important to provide the right amount of choice – some students become overwhelmed and frustrated when presented with too many choices (Evans & Boucher, 2015). 

Another important consideration when it comes to choice and motivation in the classroom is a phenomenon called “choice overload”. Choice overload can lead to detrimental effects (Thompson & Beymer, 2015). This means that there needs to be a balance between too much and too little choice in the classroom. There needs to be a balance between required assignments and assignments that students can choose. 

When deciding to use choice boards in the classroom it is important to make sure learning objectives, instructional strategies and assessments are aligned (Carnegie Mellon University, n.d.). This needs to be done on the front end of planning and not as an afterthought – using Understanding by Design method by McTighe and Wiggins (2005) would help with this. 

Image from Carnegie Mellon University (n.d.).

Choice Boards

Choice boards have been around for a while but really came to prominence during virtual learning. Choice boards can be utilized in the classroom as an alternative to traditional assessments involving multiple choice, short answer and extended answer questions. Students are able to pick an assessment activity that they are interested in, giving them ownership of the assessment, and it also allows more variety for teachers when grading. Students are allowed a venue for creativity, though it is important to unpack the standards and create rubrics for the assignment. Rubrics can also be created with the students themselves (Allen & Phillips, 2022). Rubrics and alignment to standards/mastery should be at the forefront when designing a choice board. In addition to formative and summative assessment – which was how I originally envisioned using choice boards, they can also be used for homework. Phillips and Allen state that choice boards can be a good way to engage with parents and families – allowing families to be more engaged in their child’s schooling (2002). 

Studies have shown that when students are provided with choice, you are not only able to meet the needs of more, if not all, learners in the room, but students are more engaged in the learning process. For example, when students are given a choice between two different homework assignments of intermediate difficulty and covering the same material and standards, they are more likely to report enjoying the assignment and doing better on the end of unit assessments. Students were also more likely to complete the assignments when given choices between which assignment they wanted to complete (Patall, Cooper, & Wynn, 2010). 

There are multiple ways to do choice boards, from very low tech to extremely high tech. Low tech versions can be as simple a hand out, with a 9 square box with different options in each square. For high tech options there are many ways of making choice boards. In my research I did not find an exact application dedicated to the design of choice boards, however I did find multiple examples utilizing Google Slides for choice boards. 

As a teacher that utilizes the Google Education Suite for my LMS, Google Slides would work well for my classroom. Using Google to assess mastery – you can build rubrics for assignments into Google Classroom, quickly assessing assignments and making sure students are meeting the mastery levels required from the assignment. You can create interactive choice boards using the Google Suite turning a slideshow into an interactive choice board with links to individual assignments or doing the same thing with a Google Doc. With each choice aligned to the standards. Here is an example choice board for the novel “Freak the Mighty” – 7th grade.

Choice Board Created by Dunworth (2022b).

If I was to give this choice board to students as an assignment. Each square would have a link to the instructions for that square and it would be tied to a rubric for the entire unit. The rubric would be a 4 point rubric and would be tied to the original assignment in Google Classroom, I would be assessing each of the standards listed on the second slide. The goal would be with all three choices combined – students would hit all 6 standards. The final requirement for this choice board would be a reflection form – which would be filled out using Google Forms. This makes for quick and easy data collection. 

In addition to designing your own choice boards in the LMS of your choosing or the LMS your district uses, you can also find free choice boards online, as well as choice boards you can purchase on websites like Teachers Pay Teachers. Another option that I found outside of creating one in Google Slides or Microsoft PowerPoint, was Wakelet. Wakelet is a digital curation website for teachers and students. The main issue I found with utilizing Wakelet is aligning the choice boards to the learning standards and ease of grading. Utilizing a platform like Google Classroom, allows you to build in standards based rubrics that students and teachers can see. 

Allen, M., & Phillips, M. (2022, January 24). Using choice boards to boost student engagement. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/article/using-choice-boards-boost-student-engagement#:~:text=of%20newsletter%20promotion.-,Assessments,to%20check%20for%20student%20understanding.

Brophy, J. (2004). Motivating students to learn (2nd ed.). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 

Carnegie Mellon University (n.d.). Why should assessments, learning objectives, and instructional strategies be aligned? Eberly Center, Carnegie Mellon University. https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/assessment/basics/alignment.html

Dunworth, M. (2022a) Choice word cloud.

Dunworth, M. (2022b) Freak the Mighty Choice Board

Evans, M., & Boucher, A. R. (2015). Optimizing the Power of Choice: Supporting Student Autonomy to Foster Motivation and Engagement in Learning. Mind, Brain & Education, 9(2), 87–91. https://doi-org.ezproxy.spu.edu/10.1111/mbe.12073

ISTE. (n.d.a). ISTE Standards: Educators. International Society for Technology in Education. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards-for-teachers

McDonald, J. (2020, December 28). 4 Free digital choice boards to engage, differentiate and empower your students. #TechItUp with Dr. Mac. https://drjocelynmcdonald.com/2020/12/28/4-free-digital-choice-boards-to-engage-differentiate-and-empower-your-students/

Patall, E. A., Cooper, H., & Robinson, J. C. (2008). The effects of choice on intrinsic motivation and related outcomes: A meta-analysis of research findings. Psychological Bulletin, 134(2), 270–300. https://doi-org.ezproxy.spu.edu/10.1037/0033-2909.134.2.270

Patall, E. A., Cooper, H., & Wynn, S. R. (2010). The Effectiveness and Relative Importance of Choice in the Classroom. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(4), 896-915. https://www.immagic.com/eLibrary/ARCHIVES/GENERAL/JOURNALS/E101100P.pdf 

Pretorius, L., van Mourik, G., & Barratt, C. (2017). Student choice and higher-order thinking: Using a novel flexible assessment regime combined with critical thinking activities to encourage the development of higher order thinking. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 29(2), 389-401. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1146270.pdf

Robinson, C. (2017). Technology tools for paperless homework. Science Scope, 41(4), 18-21. Retrieved from https://ezproxy.spu.edu/login?url=https://www.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/technology-tools-paperless-homework/docview/1971741046/se-2?accountid=2202

Robinson., C. (n.d.). Does offering students a choice in assignments lead to greater engagement? Digital Promise. https://researchmap.digitalpromise.org/ask_a_researcher/offering-students-choice-assignments-lead-greater-engagement/

Schultz, K., & Phillips, M. (2021, November 30). Aligning curricular decisions with student voice. Peers and Pedagogy. https://achievethecore.org/peersandpedagogy/aligning-curricular-decisions-with-student-voice/

Thompson, M., & Beymer, P. (2015). The effects of choice in the classroom: Is there too little or too much choice? Support for Learning 30(2), 105-120. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9604.12086

Quadrino, J. (2021, March 1). How to create engaging choice boards. TEQ. https://www.teq.com/engaging-choice-boards/

University of Rochester Medical Center. (n.d.). Motivation [image].

Usher, K. (2019, April 10). Differentiating by offering choices. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/article/differentiating-offering-choices#:~:text=Giving%20students%20a%20choice%20allows,want%20to%20get%20better%20at.

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by Design (2nd ed.). Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

6 replies on “Choice Boards”

I love choice boards. I used them occasionally in the past, but my usage increased substantially during virtual learning. I think choice is a wonderful motivator for students and when they are provided with choices, they develop a sense of ownership over their work. Thank you for a very informative post!

Thank you Chelly. I agree that they are a wonderful motivator. Nothing makes you feel empowered quite like having a say over what you are doing.

Thanks for sharing this insightful post. I agree that providing a choice allows students to develop their student agency in learning. This way, students’ self-determination, and intrinsic motivation are encouraged to be more autonomous. This post is beneficial as a choice board is applicable for personalized learning.

I haven’t used choice boards before! I liked the idea! It really motivates students when they are the decisionmakers. However, is it easy to design all choices at the same level of difficulty?

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