Menu of Options

Learning Menus, Choice Menus

UDL 4.1

A Menu of Options is a list of activities or tasks that students can choose from when asked to demonstrate understanding of content or mastery of a skill. This list of academic tasks is created to leverage different learner preferences (e.g., written, oral, visual, kinesthetic, reflective) by varying the format and requirements of a task (e.g., essays, posters, collages, role plays, journal entries). Like a restaurant menu, the list is comprised of “appetizers” (i.e., less rigorous tasks), “entrees” (i.e., highly rigorous tasks), and “desserts” (i.e., enrichment tasks). At the end of a lesson/unit, the teacher provides the menu to students. Students are expected to complete a combination of tasks (e.g., for shorter lessons: 2-3 “appetizers” / for unit assessments: 2 “appetizers”, 1 “entree”, and 1 “dessert”). Unlike other assessment strategies, a Menu of Options is asset-based, enabling students to use their strengths to demonstrate understanding of concepts/skills.

Implementation Tips

Determining Student Preferences
Have students complete an inventory like [[ | this example ]] to determine learning styles and preferences. Use the results to create a personalized reference sheet for each student to use when selecting from the list. Make sure to code each activity listed in a way that will help students recognize learner preferences.

Sample Learner Preference Codes:
--Written = W
--Oral = O
--Visual = V
--Kinesthetic = K
--Reflective = R
Choosing Activities for a Menu of Options
Choose activities in which students can demonstrate mastery using different types of processing and modes of representation (e.g., write a story, make a diorama, create a rap/song). Listed tasks should include varying levels of complexity and more challenging tasks should be listed as “entree” items.
Introducing a Menu of Options
Review all of the activity options explicitly before having students make selections. Remind students to choose activities that best fit their learning styles. Give each student a copy of the list, like [[ | this sample ]], so students can keep track of their choices by circling/highlighting tasks. Encourage students to ask questions.
Checks for Understanding
Ensure that the directions and expectations for each activity listed on the menu are clearly outlined. Once students have made their selections, monitor engagement by circulating throughout the classroom and ask comprehension questions (e.g., “What are you planning to include on your poster?”).
Incorporating Student Creativity
Ask students to submit suggestions for tasks/activities to include on a Menu of Options once students have become familiar with the process, or label a “dessert” task with the title, “Develop your own activity.” When a student chooses this option, briefly meet with the student to confirm clear expectations have been set.
Having Fun With It
Design each Menu of Options to reflect a food menu to build engagement and as a technique to highlight the varied tasks that are available to students. Check out this [[ | creative sample that uses chili peppers ]] to indicate how challenging a task is, and this [[ | upper grade sample ]] with a fancy menu outline.
Applying Menu of Options
Apply this strategy when students are practicing new skills and when assessing students’ understanding of a whole unit. Over time, encourage students to select “appetizers” that help them explore and develop other learning styles (e.g., requiring students to choose at least 1 ”appetizer” that is not listed as a strength in the student’s learning preference inventory).
Building Motivation
Assign a point value to each activity to signify more challenging tasks (e.g., “appetizers/side dishes” can be worth 10 pts, “entrees” can be worth 40 pts to 50 pts depending on the requirements). Tell students to complete a certain number of points and entice them to earn the most points.


End of Unit Assessment
After completing a unit on order of operations, a teacher tells students they will choose activities from a Menu of Options instead of a unit test. The teacher hands out a list of 10 activities comprised of 5 “appetizers” (e.g., standard numerical calculations), 3 “entrees” (e.g., create your own word problems and solutions), and 2 “desserts” (e.g., create and present an order of operations song or rap). Students are instructed to select 2 “appetizers” and 1 “entree” to complete by the end of the week. After reviewing each task and answering clarifying questions, students spend time selecting activities that best fit their preferences. After, students begin working on their selected activities.
Practicing Newly Learned Skills
After a lesson with guided practice on comma usage in writing, a teacher presents a web-based Menu of Options that lists activities that students can choose from to practice applying this skill (e.g., activity links to interactive practice pages, narrative and informational writing activities). The teacher reviews each option, inviting students to ask questions. Students are instructed to choose 1 “entree” and 1 “side dish” activity from the list. Once accessed, students individually choose activities (e.g., a “side dish” task where basic rules of comma usage are asked / an “entree” task that requires the student to add commas into a two-paragraph passage that includes a list, transition words, and separate clauses).
Alternative Assessment
Following a mini-lesson on sorting tokens by color, a teacher has students practice this skill using items of their choice. Students are provided with sorting mats that have sections for red, blue, and yellow items. Next, the teacher shows students 3 bins of familiar and preferred objects to select from while practicing the skill of sorting by color (e.g., crayons, Legos, realia fruit--blueberries, bananas, strawberries, apples). The teacher also offers students using assistive technology devices the option to complete a tablet-based sorting task. While students practice sorting, the teacher circulates to monitor student understanding of the skill.

Related Strategies