Wednesday, January 20, 2021

4 Ways to Design Effective Choice Boards

Choice boards are a great way of infusing student choice and voice into your classroom. You might think of them as tic tac toe assignment boards; however, there are a variety of different formats to choose from:
  • Lists
  • Tic tac toe boards
  • Gameboards
  • Menus
  • Scavenger hunts


In my experience, effective choice boards have several things in common:

1. Goal-Oriented - effective choice boards are goal-oriented, meaning that they have a purpose and are aligned to measuring important skills and concepts. Check out my example of learning about Texas!

2. Engaging - choice boards are engaging, offer a balance of rigor and relevance paired with student autonomy and reflection. Check out my example of the 1893 World's Fair menu. 

3. Flexibility - effective choice boards are flexible in the product or process of learning. 

We are often familiar with something that is flexible in the product, meaning you have the option of creating a final product of your choice. Many students like the ability to have a flexible goal like this! For example, the following vocabulary choice board gives students the option to create a portfolio of the 3 best possible products for vocabulary practice. 

Sometimes you don't have the flexibility to create the product of your choice. Instead, you might have to offer students flexibility in the process. For example, students may have to write an essay; however, you could provide them with flexible ways of writing that essay. Perhaps students type or handwrite the essay, choose to use or not use a certain graphic organizer, or choose how they will edit their draft. Here is an example of a choice board that requires students to learn about a topic; however, they can choose from a variety of different formats to learn about it. 

4. Structured Choice - believe it or not, too much choice can be a bad thing! The sweet spot for student choice is between 2 and 9. A great way of offering student choice is to offer them choice on how they respond to a discussion question. For example, students may respond via text or a Flipgrid video. The idea is for students to have a choice in how they learn or show what they know. 


Choice boards are an excellent way for students to practice making choices. Whether it is determining the best strategy to write an essay or which product to create, choice is a powerful motivator. Remember, choice boards are goal-oriented and focus on meeting a standard, assessing student skills, or measuring student knowledge. Choice boards are engaging, offering structured choice and providing students flexibility in the product or process. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Toy Theatre: Virtual Manipulatives for the Elementary Classroom

 I am a big fan of virtual manipulatives and hands-on learning opportunities for students in the classroom. When students have the opportunity to interact with content in different ways, it helps solidify abstract concepts into meaningful learning experiences. 

Toy Theatre is a great place to get virtual manipulatives and resources for a variety of subject areas geared towards the elementary classroom. 

If you are teaching virtually, Toy Theatre could provide a variety of learning options to help students learn multiplication and division, alphabetical order, symmetry, and more! Want to see this tool in action? Check out my video

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

2 Minute Crash Course on Zoom Breakout Rooms

Want to step up your game on Zoom? Why not try creating Breakout Rooms? Breakout Rooms are a helpful way to break students out in discussion or instructional groups. One teacher that I know is creating a room for each of her students so that she can have one-on-one instruction with them. 

Need to learn how to do this fast? Check out my 2-minute tutorial below

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Get Your Very Own Frayer Model Template on Jamboard

 The Frayer model is one of my favorite tools for building student vocabulary. Whether you are face-to-face or in an online environment, building student vocabulary is an important aspect of learning. The Frayer model provides students with four quadrants to fill in with definitions, characteristics, and examples of a term. 

Why I Love the Frayer Model

I like this tool because it provides students with multiple ways to represent a term. There are many different variations of the Frayer model; however, I created the following variation to provide students with an opportunity to write, draw, and supply background knowledge. Plus, students can draw their own Frayer model on paper or use an electronic version.

Get a Copy of My Jamboard Template

If you are working virtually, I wanted to share with you the following Jamboard template, which students can use in remote, hybrid, or face-to-face learning situations! Jamboard provides the perfect platform for students to 
  • Use the textbox to enter in their definition
  • Sticky-Notes to gather and organize their ideas
  • Upload images to provide helpful examples and illustrations
  • Drawing tools for students to illustrate content and ideas

Custom Background Feature

Jamboard just recently released a new feature, which allows you to create a custom background. This helps with keeping your template in place if students need to clear the frame! In the past, if you cleared the frame, you would lose everything! 

Having the custom background also prevents students from tampering or inadvertently deleting your template. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Use Jamboard to Create Sketch Notes

 Did you know that you could use Jamboard to create sketch notes? If you are not familiar with the term sketch notes, it refers to a visual way to take notes by including text, images, concept maps, etc. 

Sketch notes are a powerful strategy in helping students understand content, make connections, demonstrate understanding, and reflect on the learning.  In a virtual learning environment, Jamboard provides an excellent way for students to use a device to create notes because it contains a variety of flexible tools to express their knowledge. However, you can use a variety of other tools to do the same thing! The idea is to get students to share what they have learned! 

Jamboard also provides students with a way to collaborate with other classmates on a Sketch Note, share a view-only copy of their notes, or download a PDF or PNG copy of their notes. 

How do you get started? Students can create their own notes by visiting Jamboard or you could create and share a template of a Jamboard with students on Google Classroom! Check out my video for how to do this in the classroom! 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Phonics Practice with Jamboard

 Jamboard recently developed a new option for adding custom backgrounds to your frames. A colleague and I decided to put this to the test by developing an interactive phonics practice activity using Jamboard, Google Drawings, and Google Classroom. 

Even if you are not a Language Arts or elementary school teacher, you might find this activity helpful.

How Did We Do It? 

First, we created a brand new Jamboard

Next, we created a few custom backgrounds using Google Drawings. After we were finished designing our backgrounds, we saved them as a JPG (File > Download > JPG) and then uploaded them to Jamboard. You can upload your custom background to Jamboard by visiting Set Background. 

After we set our custom background, we designed a few interactive "chip" pieces that would be placed on this frame. We created the "chips" using Google Drawings and downloaded them as a JPG; however, we chose the add image button in Jamboard to upload our "chips." We also used the duplicate image feature by clicking on the 3 dots in the top-right corner of our image. 

Then, we put together additional frames. The image below is an example of using the Sticky note feature of Jamboard. This provided students with a way to move predetermined words and classify them into prefixes and suffixes. 

Finally, we placed everything on Google Classroom and made a copy for each student! This was helpful for individual practice, but it also allowed the teacher to monitor student progress by checking the assignments directly in Google Classroom. 

Want to see a video of how to do this? Check out my video below

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

5 Ways You Can Use Flipgrid's New Mic Only Feature

 Flipgrid just launched a new feature to record with the Mic Only feature! This is a great tool for students who may be camera shy, need to practice their reading, or might be distracted by the camera. 

How might you use this feature? 

  • Have students use this feature to respond to discussion questions. They could very easily put their ideas into a Google Doc or on the Sticky Note tool!
  • Students could create their own podcasts. For example, perhaps students develop a podcast to discuss the causes of the Revolutionary War with on-the-scene "interviews" of historical figures. 
  • The Mic Only feature could be a great way for students to practice their reading fluency in the elementary or middle school reading classroom! Simply have students pull out a book or piece of text and record their voice. Have students practice reading this text multiple times throughout the year to show progress monitoring.
  •  Did you know that students can still use all of the tools in Flipgrid? Use the whiteboard feature and have students show their work and discuss how they are solving math problems!
  • Use the Mic feature in Flipgrid as an editing tool! After students have completed a writing assignment, have them read it aloud on Flipgrid, not only as "proof" that they did read their writing aloud but also as a way to listen for potential revisions that need to occur. 

How does it work? Check out my video below.