In my blog post titled “3 Ways to Build Student Agency into Your Lessons,” I encouraged teachers to design lessons that allow students to make key decisions about their learning. Student agency is one of the easiest ways that teachers can begin to personalize learning. If students are invited to make decisions about the subject or topic they focus on, how they complete a task, or what they produce to demonstrate their learning, the learning path and products will be different for individual students.

In addition to personalizing learning, giving students agency is a powerful motivator. When students are given opportunities to select the lens they look through or decide how they want to approach a task, they are more likely to be interested and engaged in the learning.

A simple strategy for increasing student agency in your classroom is to provide students with a choice board of options they can choose from to demonstrate their learning at the end of an investigation, unit, or project.

In addition to offering a range of options, teachers can build supports and scaffolds into the choice board by hyperlinking to support documents. For example, if students decide to create a TED Talk to inspire others to act on an issue, they simply click the link to access a storyboard that will support them as they plan their talks.

Alternatively, if a student wants to build a model, the link will take them to a planning document that prompts them to think through the steps needed to create their model, create a list of the materials, and write an explanation of what their model is designed to do.

When students are told exactly what to do and how to do it, they remain passive participants in the classroom. They may not have to think critically or creatively about their learning. By contrast, when they are challenged to make key decisions about what they do and how they do it, they must actively engage in the learning process.

32 Responses

  1. Hi Catlin,

    I love these and would love to use them with my students. Are these documents available for classroom use? Thank you!

  2. Love this and it comes at a perfect time when I am wanting to add some choices to a final product list we are about to have. I’m going to try to use some of these for my U.S. History students to convince me which factor was the greatest influence on why the colonists were able to defeat the British in the American Revolution. I think the TEDTalk might be fun to include.

  3. Hello
    I’m really glad to read this article. The voice, choice, and ownership can be given to the students very specifically. Although we have been doing a choice board in our classroom as a strategy or assessment. But this is very individualized.
    thank you for the wonderful resource!

  4. Thank you for sharing ! Really inspiring resource. I was wondering if you do not mind if I could try it ? Just thinking of introdicong the choice boar for the four last units of inquiry . After presenting it give students the chance to start choosing one by one of the options until they have used them all. All of the choices given are very valuable practice for exhibition presentation later on. Your article is very much appreciated. Many thanks. Cheers!

  5. This is great, I also ask my teachers to give choice if project and attach a task sheet…
    Thanks for sharing more ideas!

  6. Caitlin, thank you so much for sharing these incredible ideas for getting students to create! This is a timely reminder as I am working closely with a 4th-grade team looking for great ways to have their students engage creatively and collaboratively to culminate their research clubs in a weather unit.

    I used your templates and tweaked it for our students and their research, thank you for sharing!!!

  7. Thank you for the great idea. I am inspired to use it with my first graders. I will have to tweak it a bit to fit my students and things they can do. I am thinking of using it with my informational research project.

  8. I love how you’ve built voice and choice into these projects for youth to showcase their learning as well as generate meaningful content while building their tech skills. I think your projects can be beautifully incorporated into out-of-school environments, including teen internships in my not-for-profit educational institution (a library). For this reason, I’m writing to ask if it’s acceptable to cite you as the original creator for the project choice board like so: “This remixed _______ worksheet was originally created and shared by @Catlin_Tucker (” May you please confirm? Thanks so much!

  9. Hi Caitlin! I love your stuff and have been following you for a few years now:) We are having our students do their own TED Talk style speeches this year and am interested in your storyboard / planning page assignment. Any chance I can get a copy to use with my kids?

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