“I don’t get it!”
As educators, there’ll be times when the lesson plan we have for our students isn’t achieving our goal of furthering a student’s education. We often get instruction on how to differentiate lessons for the students that need the most structure, but there are numerous ways to remove the ceiling for all of your students.
It’s critically important that each student is challenged fairly in the classroom and that lessons aren’t too easy or too hard for a student. To do that, we can start by looking at ways to make students think about the subject differently. A choice menu is one of many tools to get students thinking critically.
What are the benefits of choice menus?
Choice menus are all about providing varied levels of activities for students. They’re about giving different kinds of work, not necessarily more or less work. They should be equally engaging and require effort from the student doing them. The amount of work given in a choice menu should be proportional to each student and should take the same amount of time. For instance, you might have an advanced learner student that has an activity that may take them a long amount of time and a student that needs more structure doing multiple activities that take around the same time. Each student should be learning the same objective, but the actual work they’re doing should be tailored to their academic ability.
What does a choice menu look like?
There are many different kinds of choice menus for you to choose from. The simplest model to get your kids started is the Frayer Model, which can be done with students in a group or by themselves. The Frayer Model is done by the student drawing four quadrants and putting one circle in the center. In the center of the circle will be the focus of the project, and it will depend on the lesson being taught. It could be a math problem, a subject of a book, or even a science problem.
Once the center is decided on, the student(s) can begin working on filling out the four quadrants with topics that vary depending on the center. For a math problem, you might have the solucion in one quadrant, an example in another, steps to completion in another, and alternate forms in the last one. You can have one student complete a Frayer Model by themselves or 4 students working together, each working on a quadrant.
More methods of differentiating
The Frayer Model is just one of the many ways you can differentiate instruction to meet your individual students’ needs. Dr. Richard Cash, an educator with over 25 years of experience at the elementary, middle school, and college level, has created a series of sessions called Differentiating UP! which aims to inform educators of the many ways they can tailor their lesson plans to each student.
This course, Differentiating UP! Offering Students Choice, is one of those sessions. Dr. Cash takes an in-depth look at various models and modes to help every student break through the ceiling and become a master of the subject.
In this 1-hour course, you’ll learn about:
- Stations and centers
- Using choice menus
- Using learner profiles
- Using special interest groups
Once you start implementing these methods in your classroom, you’ll see the advantages in your students’ grasping of the concepts.