Early in my teaching career I heard a story about an English elementary teacher who was having trouble getting students to write. No matter the topic, length of the paper, etc., the students would moan, groan, and not be very interested. Then one day, the teacher tried something: they let the students choose the color of ink they got to write with. All of the sudden, the students had a choice in the assignment. The same work got done, the same objective was achieved, but now the students wanted to write; they had a choice in how they learned.
To this day, I use this story as an example of how student choice can help students get involved. Fast forward to the 21st century, add some technology, and that is what a digital choice board can bring to a classroom.
What is a Digital Choice Board and What Benefits Does it Provide?
According to Dr. Catlin Tucker, the goal of digital choice boards is to allow students an opportunity to select the activities they will complete to practice a skill or demonstrate understanding. The differentiated side of this can be that you can give a range of assignments that have different rigor levels to them and the students can choose what level or levels they want to work at. Not to mention, the assignments can accommodate the different learning levels and learning styles in your classroom.
Remember those teachers that gave you a rubric that clearly set how much work and depth was required to earn a 70 percent, 80 percent, etc.? Digital choice boards allow you to do the same thing.
Let’s use an assignment from the American Revolution for example: the students could be required to choose a general from each side of the war or an important battle from the list given to them. On the same board teachers could then give the student different ways to show what they learned through a quick vlog, an essay, or a poster.
Students can choose what they learn and how to show the teacher what they learned. Let your imagination run with what grade levels digital choice board can be appropriate for: elementary students could choose books from the library, solar system topics, math problems, etc. High school students could do projects from American History, different body systems, and more.
Creating a Digital Choice Board
Digital choice boards can be made in Google Slides, webpages, and with other digital technology means. The most common I found on the internet are with Google Slides. There are different choice board templates as well.
For example, take a Google Slide and imagine it divided up like a Jeopardy board. The top row could be the days of the week. Under each day of the week could be five or six different assignments with different values that in some way or another make sure the students discover important information on the people, culture, traditions, food, and geographic features for a country. Each square can be linked hyperlinked to an assignment to fill out, video, PDF, webpage, etc., which also brings technology into the classroom. All a student has to do is click their choice and be taken to where the teacher wants them to go.
Using a Digital Choice Board in Your Class
Consider the following when setting up a digital choice board for your class:
Make sure the goals and activities match the learning you want to see.
What activities will align to the goals and objectives you want your students to achieve? How best can the students show you they learned the geographic traits of Rwanda or what are the most popular foods in Spain?
Include in student choices what your students can and can’t do.
How advanced are they with technology? What accommodations do your students need to be successful? What are the learning styles that predominate in your class? What technology do you have available for students to demonstrate learning on? Do you want them to give presentations, create their own quick lessons, Google slides, etc.?
Think about depth.
What activities will you design that raise the rigor of the assignment? How can they evaluate or debate something you want them to learn? Can they create something that will demonstrate the objective you want them to learn?
What resources will be connected to the choice board?
What websites or videos or information will teach what you want it to teach and be connected to each choice on the board?
There is a lot of front-end work for the teacher when designing a digital choice board. In the end, the teacher has set the table for students to learn the way they choose and demonstrate their learning in a way that allows them to have fun with what they learned.