The Power of Choice: Transforming Education with Choice Boards and Learning Menus

Friday, April 12, 2024 No comments

Today, I want to talk about something I am truly passionate about: choice boards and learning menus. If you are thinking, "Kristen, is there anything you are not passionate about?" Well, the truth is, I love everything about education and learning! If you haven’t already incorporated these into your teaching toolkit, you’re missing out on something truly special.

So, what are choice boards and learning menus? They are like a menu at your favorite restaurant, but instead of choosing between appetizers and entrees, students get to choose how they want to learn and demonstrate their understanding of a topic. It’s all about giving them the power to choose their own adventure in learning.

Digital Choice Board Instructions

Why do I love them so much? Well, for starters, they make learning fun. When students have the freedom to explore topics that interest them, engagement is high. Plus, they are still mastering those essential skills and concepts—it’s a win-win!

Digital Choice Board Example

But the benefits don’t stop there. Choice boards and learning menus also allow for differentiation, ensuring that every student’s needs are met. Whether it is catering to different learning styles or providing options for varying levels of difficulty, everyone can find something that works for them.

Digital Choice Board Activity Example

Check out this neat idea of using a Learning Menu from the Traveloteacher in which they
break down the activity, providing instructions and examples to ensure students understands how to engage with the Learning Menu effectively.
menu image

The topic of the learning menu is tackling plastic pollution. It contains three sections - Appetizer, Main Course, and Desert, each consisting of three tasks.

The tasks in the Appetizer section are compulsory - students have to complete all of them. In the Main Course section students can choose one task they want to work on. 

The Desert section is optional, however, the activities in this section are simply irresistible and students will most likely be happy to do them.

You can download the learning menu to see how it is being utilized with students. 

Next Steps

So, if you are looking to "jazz up" your learning materials and empower your students, consider integrating choice boards and learning menus into your teaching practice. Trust me, once you see the impact they can have, you will wonder how you ever taught without them. For additional inspiration and ideas, be sure to visit the listed websites for resources and examples to get you started.

  1. How to Use a Digital Choice Board in Your Class
  2. Using Choice Boards for Students to Differentiate Instruction
  3. Digital Choice Board Examples
  4. Digital Choice Boards for Science
  5. Free Digital Choice Board Templates for All Grades
  6. Digital Choice Boards and Interactive Learning Materials for Teachers and Students
  7. Digital Choice Boards

And if you are interested in taking this concept beyond the classroom and into teacher professional development, check out "Teacher PD Choice Boards, Learning Menus, and Playlists". There, you will find innovative ways to engage educators in their own learning journey through these dynamic tools.

Here’s to the power of choice and the endless possibilities it brings to education. Let’s give our students the freedom to learn and grow in their own unique way. Happy Teaching!

Elevating Online Education: A Journey of Passion and Purpose

Tuesday, April 9, 2024 No comments

As an advocate for quality online education, I have found so much joy in collaborating with faculty to develop courses that meet academic standards and engage and empower students. Every step of the process, from the initial brainstorming sessions to celebrating the completion of a course, fills me with enthusiasm and purpose.

My job is more than just a job; it is a deeply fulfilling calling. Working with faculty to create high-quality online courses extends beyond fulfilling professional obligations; it involves building meaningful connections, fostering collaboration, and positively impacting students' learning journey. It is a passion that fuels my every effort, bringing joy, satisfaction, and a profound sense of purpose to my work.

Getting to Know Faculty

Building relationships with faculty members is one of the most crucial aspects of my job. Understanding their teaching styles, passions, and concerns fosters empathy and leads to more effective collaboration. By nurturing open communication and trust, we can work together to design courses that resonate with the faculty's vision and the student's needs. I find joy in taking the time to truly get to know them on a personal level, beyond their academic expertise. This understanding of their interests, passions, and what makes them unique adds a layer of depth to our partnership.

I have had the pleasure of learning about faculty members' families, hobbies, and even their favorite treats. From faculty with grandchildren living across the country that they dearly miss to those with a soft spot for fostering animals in need, or even taking joy in sharing stories about their beloved pets. These personal insights allow us to connect on a deeper level and foster a sense of mutual support. In my experience, discovering shared interests, such as a love for Reese's peanut butter cups or a great appreciation for the taste of the Zeros: Coke Zero and Dr. Pepper Zero, can spark lively conversations and further strengthen our bond. By acknowledging these personal preferences and incorporating them into our interactions, we demonstrate a genuine interest in the faculty members as individuals, not just as colleagues.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of dedicating time to understanding faculty members and their lives outside academia. This practice fosters a supportive and empathetic environment that promotes collaborative success. These personal connections are what make our work not only fulfilling but also deeply rewarding on a human level.

Empathy in Design

Empathy is at the heart of effective course design. Recognizing faculty and students' challenges in the online learning environment enables us to create solutions to promote success. Whether providing additional resources, adjusting timelines, or offering support, empathy ensures that everyone involved feels valued and supported throughout the process.

Patience and Problem-Solving

In the world of education, delays and setbacks are sometimes unavoidable. Faculty members wear many hats and work hard to balance their various responsibilities. Patience and resilience are key qualities when navigating these challenges. We can maintain positive relationships with faculty while working together to overcome obstacles by remaining patient and understanding. Taking a proactive approach to problem-solving ensures that courses stay on track or can get back on track, and deadlines are met without compromising quality.

Building Engaging Content

Collaborating with faculty to incorporate interactive elements, multimedia resources, and experiential learning activities adds depth and richness to the online learning experience. While seeing students actively engage with the material and flourish in their learning it's not solely about academic concepts. It's also about ensuring that students not only grasp academic concepts but also develop the essential career readiness skills they need to succeed in the workforce. By designing courses that integrate real-world scenarios, problem-solving exercises, and industry-relevant projects, we aim to equip students with the practical skills and knowledge necessary for success in their future careers. Whether it's fostering teamwork and communication through group projects or cultivating critical thinking and adaptability through hands-on simulations, our goal is to empower students to excel in the workplace and make meaningful contributions to their fields.

Embracing Creativity and Innovation

The journey of creating online courses is a creative endeavor. It involves thinking outside the box, experimenting with new ideas, and pushing the boundaries of traditional education. By embracing creativity and innovation, we can design courses that not only inspire curiosity but also foster critical thinking, ultimately transforming the learning experience for students.

I have had the pleasure of collaborating with many faculty members who are eager to innovate and explore new approaches to ensure they provide a high-quality learning experience for students. Whether through scenarios, simulations, virtual reality, 3D modeling, virtual labs, or interactive elements, they are dedicated to pushing the boundaries of online education and engaging students in dynamic ways.

Celebrating Milestones

Every milestone, big or small, deserves to be celebrated. Whether it's completing a module, receiving positive feedback from students, or launching a course successfully, each achievement represents the collective effort and dedication of everyone involved. Taking the time to acknowledge these milestones boosts morale and reinforces the importance of the work being done.

Pride in Completion

As a course reaches its completion, there is a sense of pride and accomplishment that fills the air. Faculty members pour their hearts and souls into designing courses that reflect their expertise and passion for teaching. Recognizing and celebrating their hard work and dedication is essential, ensuring that they feel appreciated and valued for their contributions.

Concluding Thoughts

I am blessed that my life journey has taken me on a road that brings me happiness each day, and I am thankful for every person I have worked with since the first day I decided to go into education. Working with faculty to create online courses is more than just a job—a passion and a calling. From the initial consultation to the final launch, every step of the process is infused with dedication, empathy, and creativity. By celebrating both the journey and the destination, we can continue to elevate the standards of online education and empower students to succeed in their academic pursuits.

As I wrap up my post, I want to acknowledge the faculty members who have gone on the design and development journey and have successfully reached the finish line. Whether I have had the pleasure of working with you in the past or will collaborate with you in the future, please know that I will always be your greatest supporter and cheerleader.