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Leading adult education through support for and the effective application of technology.

Choice Boards: Made for Adult Education

by Debbie Jensen

By Debbie Jensen, OTAN SME
posted August 2021

K-12 has embraced Choice Boards in their classrooms for over ten years, but if you missed the opportunity, here it is for Adult Education. It is as if Choice Boards were designed with adult learners in mind.

What you know about your adult learners

According to andragogy, or the philosophy behind adult learning, adults want to learn now. They are focused on what is in it for them, how it will solve their situation and meet their needs. They come with experience. They will be motivated best when their learning addresses problem-solving applied in their real-life situations. Finally, they are self-directed and responsible for their own learning. And if not satisfied, they vote with their feet.

Now, what do you know about Choice Boards?

  • A Choice Board allows learners to choose how they demonstrate their learning. They are often set up in a grid (think Tic Tac Toe or a learning menu). Each 'square' gives one alternative way to fill the assignment. Learners can build on their learning by choosing more than one activity (hence the three-in-a-row game environment). The center square can be a required activity with other choices offered in the surrounding squares.
  • Choice Boards can be used for any subject.
  • Choice Boards lend themselves to providing choice and ownership, which appeals to our adult learners.
  • Choice Boards can be designed to focus on essential knowledge and skills.

How Choice Boards can be used in Adult Education

  • Choice Boards can be set up around a learner's favorite modality: auditory, visual, or hands-on.
  • They allow learners to access information at whatever skill level they are at. For ABE, it might be a reader at a 3rd grade level, while another board links to readings at a 7th grade level. Because we teach adults who have wide differences in skill level, by offering different choices (Boards), we can tailor or differentiate the learning to meet various needs.
  • Choice Boards allow choice; this gives learners stronger buy-in, and they will be more engaged.
  • Choice Boards could even reflect a given skill but as applied in various career fields. Think math applications in different careers or case scenarios.

What to consider as you create your Choice Board

  1. How do your learners like to learn? (The Ultimate Guide to Choice Boards and Learning Menus by AJ Juliani):
    Do your learners prefer to learn:
    • Independently, in pairs, small group, or in a whole class discussion
    • By direct instruction, small group, or conference
    • Reading textbooks or articles in hand, or online reading materials
    • Listening to teacher, discussion, online podcasts, or audio
    • Viewing videos or presentations
    • Using mixed presentations, including listening, viewing, reading (closed captions)
  2. Differentiate each activity dependent on the learner (Differentiation with Choice Boards and Menus): Christopher Tienken, from Seton Hall University, points out that one size does not fit all our learners. He suggests that there are six ways you can differentiate an activity.
    You can change:
    • The process (how you teach or how they experience the lesson, for example, reading vs. listening)
    • The product (write a paragraph, give a speech, create a graphic organizer, give a presentation)
    • The activity determined by the readiness of the learner (all the learners are learning the same skill but at different reading levels, skill levels, or need for support)
    • The content (different skills)
    • The learning modality (auditory, visual, hands-on)
    • Consider the interests of the learners (students choose from different options)
  3. Bring Learning Theory into your Choice Boards (Bloom's Taxonomy) You can differentiate the Choice Board by learner level of comprehension, each section demonstrating a different and progressively higher level of understanding.
    You can design your choice board to improve learning:


List, define, tell, describe, identify, show, label, collect, examine, name, who, when, where


Summarize, describe, interpret, contrast, predict, associate, distinguish, estimate, discuss, extend


Apply, demonstrate, calculate, complete, illustrate, show, solve, examine, modify, relate, change, classify, experiment


Analyze, separate, order, explain, connect, classify, arrange, divide, compare, select, explain, infer


Combine, integrate, modify, rearrange, substitute, plan, create, design, invent, what if? compose, formulate, prepare, generalize, rewrite


Assess, decide, rank, grade, test, measure, recommend, convince, select, judge, explain, discriminate, support, conclude, compare

Comprehension or Evaluation

Application or Evaluation

Knowledge or Analysis

Here is an example of using the Choice Board to increase learning:


Facts or ideas which are important to you.



A lesson about your topic to our class. Include at least one visual aid.



A diagram, map, or picture of your topic.



Two different viewpoints about an issue. Explain your decision.



Videotape or film part of your presentation.



Something to show what you have learned.



Some part of your study to show how many or how few.



An original poem, dance, picture, song, or story.



Something to show what you have learned.



Others to learn their opinions about some fact, idea, or feature of your study.



How your topic will change in the next 10 years.



A model or diorama to illustrate what you have learned.



An original game using the facts you have learned.



And recite a quote or short list of facts about your topic.



An editorial for the student newspaper or draw an editorial cartoon.



Two things from your study. Look for ways they are alike and different.


  1. Questions to ask yourself as you create your Choice Board: Tara Duski in Three Math Choice Boards asked these questions:
    • What is your goal for your Choice Board?
    • How much time will learners have to complete the Choice Board?
    • What might the learners see as challenging and how can you address those challenges?
    • How can you provide support to your learners as they work through the Choice Board?
    • What types of assessments will you use for your Choice Board?
  2. Integrating technology into your Choice Boards: Technology can enhance student learning.
    Here is an infographic on different apps you can use on your Choice Board. It was created by Ernest Gonzales from San Antonio ISD. Notice how he weds the learning styles with the content.  Under Verbal/Spoken, students could interview someone or tell a story. Under Logical, students could create a timeline or a diagram. Under Intrapersonal, students could create a blog or a reflection. Under Interpersonal, students could give an interview or create a podcast. Under Technology, students could create a presentation or an interactive story. Under Kinesthetic, students could create an interpretive dance or create a tutorial. Under Music/Audio, students could write a song or create a music video. Under Visual/Design, students could create a poster or collage. Under Verbal/Written, students could create an eBook or online journal.

Infographic titled Ed Tech Choice Board. It includes nine squares including Verbal/Spoken, Logical, Intrapersonal,  Interpersonal, Technology, Kinesthetic, Visual/Design, and Verbal/Written

Here is a different model for the Choice Board.

It includes a menu with Entrees, Sides, Appetizers, Desserts, etc. Learners create a meal with the Entrée required and the other parts of the meal optional. This board was created by Tom Spall (from Teaching Tip Thursday: Digital Menu for Student Creation). A Digital Cafe Choice Board:  Entrees are the main creation and can be created using Google Slides, Drawing, or Documents, or Powtoon, Educreation or Thinglink. Under Appetizers, projects are recorded with audio or video using Screencastify, WeVideo, or Vocaroo. Dessert projects can be created with a link to Smore Page or Google Site. Under Beverage, learners can create non-digital projects using Cardboard Poster, Create a Skit or Play, Create a Cereal Box Display, Dress up and Present, or Create a Diorama.

A Digital Cafe Choice Board. with Entrees, Appetizers Desserts and Beverages. Links are given to various apps that can be used to create the projects.

Another way to organize: The Choice Board organized so learners pick one activity in each column.

ESL Choice Board: You can organize your Choice Board around Skills.

Speaking Listening Reading Writing

Chat in English with a friend or another English-speaker for 10 minutes or more.

Watch a TV show or movie in English.

Try reading an online English newspaper.

Write a note in English to someone telling them what you like about them.

Tell someone about your favorite TV show or movie in English.

Listen to the radio or a podcast in English.

Read a book in English. It could even be a children's book.

Create a picture book or a cartoon in English.

When in public, speak only using English.

Watch an English athletic match with English commentary!

Change your cell phone or other digital device to English for a day or more. As an alternative, change your social media accounts to English for a day or more.

Write down as many English verbs as you can to describe what you do on an average day.

Sing along with a song in English.

Watch the trailer for a movie currently in theaters or coming out soon in English. Write a critique of the movie based on the trailer.

Investigate recipes in English.

Use Scrabble® or Bananagrams® letters, or make your own letter cards, to create a crossword puzzle containing as many English words as you can think of.

Learn an English tongue twister.

Complete two English songs on

Read the last 30 English-language tweets from an English-speaking musician, politician, author, etc.

Think about your favorite character from a movie or book. Create a profile for that character in English.

Sample Choice Boards

Now that you have been presented with why to use a Choice Board, how to create one, and seen a variety of Boards, think about your own class. How might you create a Choice Board to use with your class? Following are three Choice Boards available for you to download, modify, and use in your class.

Math Choice Board: Geometry

The following three boards are available for use below.

Identify 3 Different Types of Angles:

Make a chart, include pictures of the angles and places you could find these angles in the real world.


Look at flags from different countries. Identify 5 different geometric shapes used in creating the flags. Create a chart that includes the picture of the flag, country the flag is from, and the names of the geometric shapes.

Make a Map of a City:

Include 5 different geometric shapes as you create your city. Identify the geometric shapes.

Create 20 Flashcards:

Use Quizlet or another flashcard application, or cards. Create 20 flashcards with names on one side and definitions on the other. Include a picture of each geometric term.

Student Choice:

Choose an activity that will help you and the other students practice geometry. Clear the project with the teacher.

Word Problems Using Geometry/Quiz:

Write five problems using    geometry. Use Google Form to create a quiz and share it with the class.

Geometry Shapes Around Us:

Name 5 geometric shapes. Look around your home. Count how many times you see each shape. Make a chart of each shape, and how many times you find each one. Upload your chart to the class Padlet.

Create a Diagram:

Make a diagram of geometric shapes within geometric shapes. Be sure to include at least 5 different shapes. Label each shape.

Images Using Your Phone:

Take pictures of 5 images illustrating geometric shapes. Identify the shape. Add the photos to your entry in Padlet or send the photos to the teacher in Remind.

Reading Choice Board: Story Elements

Templates available below.

Define the Words

Use the Vocabulary Template. Include the word, part of speech, definition, and use it in a sentence of your own.

Write a Story

Apply the Elements of Story to a story of your choice.

Map a Story

Focus on the Plot. Use a Plot Diagram to identify the elements of a story of your choice.

Share a story from your country.

Use Padlet or Flipgrid for the class sharing. Apply the story elements in your description.


Watch the Video: The Elements of Story

Partner Activity

Read the Reader's Digest Article: The Most Popular Fairy Tale Stories of All Time. Share one of the stories with a classmate, then share your stories with the class.

Memory Aid:

Watch the Rap: Elements of a Story Rap
Share it with the class and guide a discussion or write your own rap to help students remember the Story Elements-Teach it to the class.

Class Share:

What stories were you told when you were a child, or what stories do you tell your children? Select a story and share it with the class, be sure to identify the story elements.

Slide Presentation: Partner Activity

One partner uses PowerPoint or Google Slides to create a Presentation of Story Elements found in a movie or story (your choice). The second person presents to the class.

ESL Choice Board

Templates available below

Take a Virtual Tour

of the museum or aquarium, or a historical site.
Share 3 things you saw.

Practice the vocabulary words

from this week's lesson. Use Quizlet to create your own board with this week's vocabulary. Share the link with your classmates for them to practice

Practice Vocabulary words.

Complete a 4-corner vocabulary activity for ten vocabulary words.

Read the article in Newsela.

Write a summary. Tell what the article is about, when it took place, where it took place, and who is involved.

Find a poem you like.

Record yourself reading it aloud on Flipgrid.

Create a Quiz.

Use Google Forms to create a 5-question quiz for your classmates. Ask them questions about this week's lesson.

Watch a Video

Go to  VOA Learning English YouTube channel . Choose the videos you want to watch and practice listening.

We are living in a historic moment.

Write in your journal about what it is like living during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Listen to a podcast in English.

When you are done write a few sentences about what you learned.


Choice Boards for You to Use in Your Class

Sources for this Article and Where You Can Get Even More Choice Boards:

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.