3 Reasons You Should Use Choice Boards in Middle School Math

February 6, 2022 1 Comment
3 Reasons You Should Use Choice Boards in Middle School Math

There are 3 reasons you should use choice boards in middle school math that will change the game in your classroom. Engagement doesn’t always have to come in the form of a “game”. I know, hear me out. Sometimes, providing students with choice is an even more powerful way to engage them in your content. There are a lot of benefits to providing choice to your students, but I am going to break down 3 main reasons you should start using choice boards in your classroom for math.

What Is a Choice Board? 

So you may be wondering what the heck a choice board is. Choice boards, sometimes called “choice menus”, are an activity board that allow for your students to “choose” what activity or topic they complete, or simply just the order. Choice boards come in digital and printable formats. They can be focused on a variety of skills for review, or simply one skill for targeted practice.

3 Reasons You Should Use Choice Boards in Middle School Math

1. Choice Boards Promote Student Buy-In

Choice boards are an effective way to promote student buy-in in your classroom. Just like with anything in life, when someone has a choice or say in what they are doing, they are more willing and motivated to complete the task at hand. We’ve all heard when managing those difficult behaviors with students to give a choice when refocusing and correcting behaviors. Very similar, choice boards allow students the opportunity to choose the option(s) that best fit them and in turn create the buy-in and internal motivation we seek. In the bigger scheme of things, student buy-in is what drives a positive math mindset and attitude in a student. 

2. Choice Boards Are Versatile 

There are some activities that are engaging, students love and become a staple in your classroom. The downfall with some of them is that they aren’t versatile to use in different modalities. Some make for great review activities, some are great projects, etc. Choice boards in the math classroom can be used for ANYTHING.

Here are some ways they can be used:

  • Review
  • Independent Practice
  • Partner Practice
  • Collaborative Team Practice (jigsaw the tasks)
  • Formative Assessment
  • Summative Assessment

The list goes on, but choice boards are a great resource to keep in your toolbox because they could be used in so many formats to give you flexibility. 

Choice boards in middle school math

3. Choice Boards Are Easy To Differentiate 

Differentiation in math is more important now than ever. Your classroom is probably filled with a wide range of abilities, learnings gaps, and learning styles. Meeting the needs of all your students at the same time is beyond overwhelming at times. Choice boards allow for you to easily provide different tasks or choices to students, while differentiating the tasks’ rigor, critical thinking, and question amounts. Even though you are providing students with a choice, you can still structure your choice board to require certain things from your students so that they are still practicing what you want them to focus on as in individual.

Other Helpful Information on Choice Boards in Math

Learn More About the Logistics of Choice Boards…

How Can You Format Choice Boards?

Digital Choice Boards:

Digital Choice Boards are my go to in my middle school math classroom. Digital choice boards are a popular way you can format and use math menu’s in your class. In a nutshell, a digital choice board has a main “choice board” slide that has all the options available to students. Students click the option they want to complete and are taken straight to it. They complete the activity and then return to the main choice board slide. 

Pro’s:

  • No printing/copying involved.
  • Can utilize other websites/platforms as a “choice”
  • Can include activities that are self-checking
  • Easy to make a collaborative task where students “share” a choice board

Con’s:

  • Need a device and internet
  • Can’t always “easily” show all Math concepts

Printable Choice Boards:

Printable Choice Boards are another great option for utilizing math menu’s. Very similarly to digital versions, printable choice boards usually have a main page with the options available. Students simply need to “get” the materials (if any) to complete that option and then when they are done, they check it off.  

Pro’s:

  • Can utilize other websites/platforms as a “choice”
  • Can include activities that are self-checking
  • Does not require technology (if options are not digital)

Con’s:

  • Most likely printing and copying of activity options involved
  • Can easily be lost/misplaced if using the choice board for a longer period of time

Both options of choice boards have their own pro’s and con’s, however finding what works best for you and your students is key.

When Should You Use Choice Boards?

The beauty of choice boards is you can use them ANYTIME.

Choice boards work great for so many things in your Math classroom. Though the list I will share below is nowhere near covering everything, it will give you a great start of figuring out when you can try a choice board next.

  • Practice after a lesson for a specific skill (i.e. One-Step Equations)
  • Review for an assessment
  • Review of an entire domain (i.e. Ratios)
  •  Seasonal celebration (i.e. Valentine’s Day)
  • Stations/Math Workshop (one station can be a choice board)
  • Early Finishers
  • Intervention

Tips On Structuring Choice Boards 

Two Ideas for Structuring Choice Boards… 

  1. When you assign a choice board, one strategy you can use is to use a point system. Give each task/activity a point value based on the rigor and amount of questions involved. Then when you assign it, communicate to students that they must earn ___ points. This is where you can be a little sneaky in getting your students to do what you want them to without them knowing. You can offer 3 activities that are 1 point each, and 3 activities that are 2 points each. If you tell students that they must earn 5 points in total, they could complete one of the 2 point activities and three of the1 point activities or they could do two of the 2 point activities and one of the 1 point activities. Regardless, they are still completing at least one of the more rigorous tasks. You can also discreetly differentiate by letting some of your struggling students know they only need to get 4 points versus the 5.
  2. Display a slide with the choice options and directions (if printable) or the expectations (if digital). Choice boards are student led and the goal is for the child to take ownership in their learning, however it’s important to provide the structure for that to happen. Explain, model, and show where to find everything for your choice board before letting students dive in. I highly suggest having a slide that displays the choice directions or the expectations for students to refer to. The last thing we want is for a student to waste time trying to locate something or figure out what they need. Rather, be proactive and display any general informations that will keep them on track.

Resources To Get You Started With Math Menu’s

Grab your free choice board template.

Choice Board Templates

Here are some links to templates that you may find helpful as you move forward with choice boards.

Ready To Go 6th Grade Math Choice Boards

Here are some links to ready to go choice boards for 6th grade Math teachers that you may find helpful as you move forward with choice boards.

I have multiple other choice board options that you can find here.

Looking for other classroom activities to keep your students engaged? Read this blog post all about scavenger hunts here.

Although your head may be spinning from all of that information, just remember you can start small. There is no need to go BIG the first time you try choice boards if you’re not ready for it. I hope you see the benefits of providing choice and a voice to your students with these 3 reasons you should use choice boards in middle school math

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1 Comment

  • Felicia February 17, 2022 at 8:30 am

    I did your coordinate plane choice board as a review activity and my students loved it! I do believe that giving them a choice made them more willing to complete an activity.

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    I am a passionate middle school Math teacher who loves bringing engagement and rigor into my classroom. My goal is to support classroom teachers in making Math instruction meaningful for their students too! Read More

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