SchoolArts Magazine

February 2016

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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M E E T I N G I N D I V I D U A L N E E D S Choice Boards I t is probably fair to say that we all want a classroom full of learners who are excited and invested in their work, but sometimes achiev- ing this goal is a true challenge. There may also be a wide range of learners in one group, with varied levels of interest; this is where choice-based learning can be most helpful. O ften, when teachers hear the term "choice-based," they imagine an uncontrolled classroom, but I assure you that adding choice to learning does not, and should not, lead to chaos. In fact, you will find that add- ing choice will create a more focused classroom, where students are busy completing tasks that they have cho- sen and, therefore, have more desire to fully complete. Choice also helps students become successful at meeting their learning goals because there are several ways to accomplish them. This affords every student the opportunity to make their own choices for accom- plishing the learning objectives. The Choice Board The choice board is one of the most versatile ways to incorporate choice into a lesson, especially if you are new to adding choice-based elements to your lessons. Creating a choice board begins with defining learning goals; what do you want students to know, understand, and be able to do? The choices you design should help stu - dents accomplish these goals. Consider Student Learning Styles Next, you will need to decide whether you will design a minimum of four choices based on student learning styles (verbal, written, kinesthetic, or auditory) or a minimum of eight choices designed around the multiple intelligence areas (naturalistic, math- ematical/logical, intrapersonal, inter- personal, visual/spatial, kinesthetic, verbal/linguistic, musical/rhythmic). This ensures that all types of learners can connect to the choices. It's important that all of your choices be equally interesting, engag- ing, and fun, while also being ben- eficial in helping students meet or demonstrate their achievement of the learning goals. If a choice is fun, but doesn't help them to meet a learning goal, then it does not meet the criteria for a choice board. Many Approaches Choice boards can be the starting point of a lesson, helping students explore key concepts and knowledge, or they can be used to differentiate how students demonstrate what they have learned as a result of the les - son. Another way to utilize choice b oards is as an extension, offering rich content-related activities for stu- dents who have completed the main g oals of a lesson. Choice boards can also be used to engage students in exploring new content once they have completed their original assign - ment. This ensures that students w ill use all available class time to learn about art in both productive and exciting ways. Many teachers who have added choice boards into their lessons have discovered that they have more time to talk with students and circulate around the room. They spend less time on classroom discipline because students are more engaged. However you use choice boards, you will find that they will create an atmosphere of ownership over learning that will excite and motivate students. Heather Leah Ryerson Fountain is an assistant professor of art education and crafts at Kutztown University of Pennsyl- vania. She is the author of Differentiated Instruction in Art (Davis Publications, 2014). fountain@kutztown.edu Heather Leah Ryerson Fountain Adding choices creates a more focused classroom where students are bus completing tasks that the ave chosen. 12 FEBRUARY 2016 SchoolArts

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