About 5 weeks ago I introduced CHOICE boards to my grade six gifted class. I did this in anticipation of the upcoming unit in Social Studies. I chose a low risk topic, Addition and Subtraction of Decimals. I did this for two reasons, I wanted to see how much my students knew about decimals, and I wanted to see how they would respond to the CHOICE board format.
|Math Choice Board|
The math choice board I used is adapted from one of Laurie's and the First Nations board I created is inspired by one she created for European Explorers.
The experience with the math CHOICE BOARD was eye opening for me as a teacher. I had used this format several times over the past few years with great success. I was surprised at how difficult it was for my students this year to use this format. Even though I had provided them with the product criteria from Laurie's book, and I had given them the assessment rubric I was intending to use, ultimately I realized that many of them did not fully understand what was being asked of them. I tried to rectify the situation when I provided students who struggled with the tasks with descriptive feedback. It was clear to me that although I had given the students several WEEKS to complete the tasks in class, and I checked in with them at several points, the creation of the final products was challenging for many of them. When I assessed the final products, I realized, for example, that even though a student may have said they understood what a "mind map" was, and was able to show me what they thought it should look like, ultimately, they needed more guidance.
I took this as a perfect "teachable moment" and gave each student specific feedback about not only their final products, but also about how they approached each learning task, from the planning, to the research and finally to the product creation. I asked the students to reflect upon what they had learned, and put their reflections in writing. I was pleasantly surprised to read that most students felt they had learned about how to approach a more "open ended" task and one even said "We clearly need another chance to demonstrate what we have learned".
The students are going to get another chance. This week my teacher candidate will be introducing the CHOICE BOARD I created. I have explained to her the teaching learning cycle I went through with the students over the past few months. I am hoping that the students will not only enjoy the "second chance" they are being offered, but will also enjoy the flexibility and differentiation being offered to them. If you would like a copy of the CHOICE BOARD I created for social studies just click on the link below. For more information about using Menus and CHOICE BOARDS, I highly suggest you check out Laurie Westphal's books.