Give them CHOICES! Using Menus to Meet the Range of Needs in Your Classroom

One of the most challenging jobs for teachers to do is meet the enormous range of needs for the learners in the classroom. Even in my self-contained gifted classes, children's skills and knowledge could be asynchronous, or very unevenly developed. Within my 4th and 5th grade multi-age language arts class alone, I had children reading at SEVEN different reading levels. SEVEN.

*Side note: It's a huge misnomer that kids are all at the same level in a gifted classroom. Differentiation in gifted classes is every bit as important in a classroom with only gifted students as it is for general education of special education classrooms.*

Okay, back to my point. BECAUSE it can be so challenging to meet the needs of a range of learners, using menus is a great way to differentiate!

There are several reasons menus are a great choice for ANY classroom:

  • They give students CHOICE. There are so very few times in a child's day when they get to exercise control over what they do. Menus empower students to have power over which activities they choose to complete.
  • Menus increase student engagement. As a result of increased autonomy, students are naturally more invested in their own learning. 
  • They create a student-centered learning environment. Teachers truly take on the, "guide on the side" role.
  • They can meet the needs of a variety of intelligences--students with strengths in areas other than language arts can showcase their own talents 
  • They can be a departure from the traditional worksheet activities (HOORAY for that!)
  • They're easily adaptable--they can range from quick learning activities to a lengthy long-term project.
  • The difficulty levels of activity options can be varied and laid out in a way that students can't just stick with completing the easiest tasks. 
Maybe it's time for you to dabble in menu options for your classroom! With Valentine's Day right around the corner, I want to help you differentiate your ELA instruction! Click on the picture to take a peek at my Valentine's Day Vocabulary Tic-Tac-Toe Menu Board. You'll find EVERYTHING you need to make your first go with menus a huge success. 

Thanks for reading! 
~Jen


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