As you read today's blog post, I am getting started on my first VSTE experience! Over the course of the next couple of days, I will be presenting a virtual session, two concurrent sessions- one with a colleague for the first time and a poster session with a book signing. If you can't tell, I am super excited about this.  

Each of these sessions highlights something that I am truly passionate about and I am honored to be one of the choices that participants at this conference can choose from. Plus, I also get to be a learner at this conference too- I am so excited to learn from fellow VA colleagues at sessions like: 

I love going to conferences like this one because not only do I get to share my passions as choices with others, but I get to choose sessions that help me grow as an educator and better support my school and students.

Reviewing what are the ABCs of Transforming Learning are-

Two weeks ago, I shared a blog post called   F= Facilitate Math Thinking  In this post, I shared how students will often  believe that there is only way to solve a math problem and will close themselves off from other possible ways of solving it. The two programs I shared provide an easy way for educators to facilitate their students to share different ways to solve math problems and make connections to each other's thinking.

This week, we will focus on G = Grant Students Choices in Learning. Just like we, as educators, value choices in our learning- so do our students. But sometimes, educators don't know where to start as they grant students choices in learning. This post will share two instructional strategies that provide our students scaffolds and supports as they become more independent learners and give you as the educators concrete examples to get started. It will show you how you can package these strategies with tech tools and give your students choice that validate and honor their learning styles and needs.

G = Grant Students Choices in Learning

This week's focus seems simple but it can actually be more complicated than it seems. That's why we are going to start simple and then show how you can take the idea of a choice board and add to it. So if this idea is brand new to you, don't jump in with a hyperdoc or a choose your own learning adventure right away. Start simple and add on as you get more comfortable with giving your students choices. This post will help you scaffold these experiences.

What is a Choice Board?

A choice board is comprised of a grid of squares where learners get to choose from a variety of activities. Even my youngest learners use choice boards. When packaging a choice board, being able to use hyperlinks is very helpful.

I often use Wixie for student choice boards for my littles. Wixie has several premade choice boards that you can use or sometimes, I create my own using either the 4 Boxes template: or the Grid- 6 boxes:

Then I can hyperlink an activity to each box for students to choose from.

Here are some of my favorites that I designed:

The graphics to the right show how you can use a choice board using a grid and then add images of each activity to each box first. Then you can hyperlink each image and then lock the image for your students.

Next Level Choice Boards- Tic Tac Toe Choice Boards

One of my favorite type of choice boards is one that Kasey Bell of Shake Up Learning introduced me to: a Tic Tac Toe Choice Board.  This type of choice board is made of a 9 square grid. I especially love using this type of choice board, since all students have a square that they "must do"- the center square #5.  After they get a choice of 2 other boxes that they can complete to get tic tac toe.  To provide models for both students and teachers, I use strategies like the Tic Tac Toe Board, to model digital differentiation for my staff and students. Here are a few examples of how I have used these choice boards before.

Breaking Down a Tic Tac Toe Choice Board

The Fertile Crescent

This tic tac toe choice board was used by my fifth grade when they studied Mesopotamia. They began by completing the middle square where they examined a map of the Fertile Crescent and completed a See, Think, Wonder thinking routine on a Padlet. After they got to choose which blue and yellow boxes to complete to get tic tac toe. All of the blue boxes helped students learn about Mesopotamia and then complete a Connect, Extend, Challenge either on paper or using a Google form. All of the yellow boxes featured a contribution of Mesopotamian culture and had students create a one pager to share their knowledge.

Ancient Egypt

This tic tac toe board was used by my third grade students as they learned about Egypt. It is very similar to the fifth grade board with a few exceptions. This time, students explored an ancient Egypt collection from the Smithsonian Learning Lab in the middle box. For the blue boxes, after learning about Egypt, they shared 3 things they learned using Flip (formerly Flipgrid) The third graders, in the yellow boxes, learned about contributions or inventions from Egypt and filled out a template to share.

Choose Your Own Learning Adventure with Google Forms

I can not take credit for this idea. I learned about it during the PBS Early Childhood Summit in NC this summer from Lauren Boucher. During this session, she shared how she uses Google forms to create digital choice boards. I love this idea- it uses the idea of branching and sections to help your students create their own learning journeys.

Check out the example below that she shared at this session:

Hyperdocs- taking it to the next level.

Hyperdocs take the idea of choice boards to the next level. They are a way that educators can package their learning units for students and provide them opportunities to use the 4 Cs- Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Communication and Creativity. As the graphic to the right shares, they  allow students to work at their own pace and can be differentiated based on students choice and voice. 

The website, is a fantastic resource where you can find templates, webinars, and many other resources to build your knowledge of this instructional strategy.  One of my favorites in  Explore, Explain and Apply. I used this template for my 4th grade during their Oceans PBL (Project Based Learning Unit).

Where do you want to get started?

After reading this blog post, where do you want to get started?

No matter where you fall on the student voice continuum, feel free to reach out to me if you need any help along the way. 

This is your learning journey- where do you want to go next? Happy December Learning!