How Simple Choice Boards Can Be Used as a Fabulous Differentiation Strategy

Differentiated instruction is a must in every classroom. In my 22+ years of teaching, I have never taught a class of students where everyone is working at the same level. My students have different strengths and interests, so providing them with one way to practice their learning is ridiculous. Simple choice boards are a straightforward differentiation strategy I love to use.

Photo of printable and digital homework bingo with text, "How Simple Choice Boards Can Be Used as a Fabulous Differentiation Strategy."

What is Differentiation?

Differentiation is simply providing students with multiple options for acquiring or practicing their learning. Each of our students is unique. They have varying strengths, interests, and needs that we need to be sensitive to when creating our lessons and activities.

The Power of Choice

The power of choice is HUGE. When students feel like they have options in their learning, they are far more likely to take risks and engage.

Howard Gardner's research on multiple intelligences supports this idea by identifying the varied ways that humans can best process information. When teachers understand that their students can be "smart" in different ways, they are better prepared to provide them with opportunities to demonstrate what they know in ways that allow them to shine.

Gardner's Eight Intelligences are:

  • Verbal-linguistic intelligence
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence
  • Visual-spatial intelligence
  • Musical intelligence
  • Naturalistic intelligence
  • Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence
  • Interpersonal intelligence
  • Intrapersonal intelligence

Graphic of Gardner's Multiple Intelligences

When students are allowed to express themselves using the style they feel most successful with, teachers see the best results!

Choice Boards as a Differentiation Strategy

Choice boards are a fabulous way of differentiating learning for your students, and they are simple to create.

Choice boards can be used as instruction or as products. You can share lesson details on a choice board by selecting different information types such as readings, graphics, and videos that your students can pick and choose from. Alternatively, you can provide your students with varied options for demonstrating their learning after a lesson by suggesting various projects they can complete to show what they know.

Choice boards may be printable or digital but generally take the format of a grid. Often these are 3 squares by 3 squares, for a total of 9 options, but this can really vary depending on the intended use and length of time your students will engage with them.

Photo of printable and digital homework bingo choice boards.

How to Make a Choice Board

Creating a choice board for your students is relatively easy. Begin with Google Docs or PowerPoint for best results. Insert a table in whatever dimensions you wish. Consider the length of time you plan to have your students engage with the options. More choices would be appropriate for a board used for weeks, fewer for a board used for a day or two.

Next, add your options to the spaces. There are several things to consider:

  • Do you want to vary the levels of difficulty in the tasks you provide? Doing this can make the choice board accessible to all your students, but you'll want some way of ensuring that your students are not only completing "easy" tasks.
  • Will you vary the format of the activities? (Reading, video, graphics, etc.)
  • How will students be required to choose activities? Will they be required to make a line? Can they select random spaces? Pick one activity from each row or column?
  • Can you include activities that reach multiple intelligences? 

If you are using a digital choice board, you will have the opportunity to insert links to different websites for your students to explore. Printable versions can make it easier to focus on screen-free activities, which can sometimes be preferred.

Choice Boards as Homework

For years, I sent homework packages with students to only receive a handful back complete at the end of the week. This is the reason for what I call The Great Homework Debate! Changing my focus using choice boards has flipped that on its head! 

By styling my choice board as "Homework Bingo," I've provided my students with the same opportunities that I had been previously, but in a format that feels flexible and achievable for families. By sending it home only once per month, I've eliminated a ton of preparation time on my end as well.

I have an entire year's worth of editable Homework Bingo available in a printable format and digital "Home Learning" format ready for you if you don't have the time to create your own choice boards!

Cover of Homework Bingo and Home Learning Choice Boards resource

If you'd like to try these, grab a FREE MONTH right here:

Offer of FREE Homework Bingo samples with text, "Click here to get free homework choice boards!"

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Photo of homework bingo choice boards with text, "How Simple Choice Boards Can Be Used as a Fabulous Differentiation Strategy."


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