A Product Menu is a differentiation tool teachers can use during independent practice to offer students a variety of activities to choose from and allows for the transition from teacher-centered to student-centered classroom practices. This approach provides students with options targeted towards specific learning goals to reinforce, extend, or enrich the essential curriculum. Each activity on the product menu can be differentiated by complexity, learning style, and/or interests (i.e. music, movement, art).
- Use assessment data and student profiles to determine the objectives that should be covered in the product menu.
- Prior to creating the product menu, teachers should consider the number of learning objectives that need to be covered, the style in which the product menu will be developed (i.e. list format, tic-tac-toe, or menu), and the number of time students will have to complete the product.
- Include higher-level thinking tasks by using verbs such as evaluate, defend, and create, as much as possible. Include activities for a variety of learning styles (visual, tactile, kinesthetic, and oral).
- Decide whether to create one menu to meet all student needs or several to meet the needs of groups of students.
- Create specific guidelines on the use of the menu for both students and parents. The guidelines should include an aspect of free choice for students to pick the learning activities that interest them.
- Create a scoring guide or rubric that provides the criteria, due date, and grading system for the final product(s).
- Provide clear and specific expectations, directions, and procedures to students when a menu is introduced (i.e. how many activities need to be completed, how and when students should turn in the final products, and the resources they have for support as they work.