Using Thinglink to Create Interactive Learning Menus that Support Student Choice
by Christi Collins
Thinglink Interactive Learning Menus
Are you looking for more engaging ways to provide your students with choice-based assignments and activities? One way to provide students with more meaningful, self-directed learning opportunities is to create an Interactive Learning Menu in Thinglink. Interactive Learning Menus, also known as Choice Boards, provide students with a variety of options to choose from based on their individual interests.
Historical Writers Choice Board Thinglink
Last year my 5th-grade students were required to submit a writing sample and present a history project to their peers in order to fulfill district requirements. Since I work for a virtual academy providing instruction to nearly 180 fifth-grade students virtually, I knew I had my work cut-out for me as this would not be an easy feat to accomplish. To make their lives a little easier, I decided to combine the History and Writing requirements into one overall project to assist them with this process and provide them with a more choice-based approach.
To accomplish this feat, I narrowed the Virginia History Standards of Learning (SOL’s) down to six categories, then combined the writing and presentation aspects that addressed the English standards expected to meet every requirement. Starting with their initial research, I provided student-friendly resources which were later tagged to each category in my Thinglink interactive learning menu. In addition, students were provided with a Google Document that included the following:
- A link to a Google Form to submit their project choice
- Step-by-step directions to assist them with each step of the prewriting phase which was broken down into smaller, manageable chunks with the due date for each,
- Directions for submitting their final handwritten copy into Schoology to be graded, along with a writing rubric to communicate the writing expectations and for grading purposes.
- At the end of the document, I included a selection of presentation tools that could be used to create their final overall presentation and a peer review document to be used for providing feedback to two of their classmates’ presentations as they were presented virtually in Blackboard Collaborate.
Once I had my plan in place, it was now time to choose my method of delivery. At the time, choice boards were a hot, new item that I had already been using to provide instruction to my students with great success. So, I figured why not create an interactive choice board that allowed me to combine everything they could possibly need for this project in one convenient location. The answer suddenly became obvious, I would create a Historical Writers Choice Board in Thinglink! This allowed me to provide my students with scenario-based project choices to facilitate a more self-directed learning approach, include multimedia resources to assist them every step of the way, and display the History and English standards that were aligned to this project. I was very pleased with the final results and luckily the project was a huge success for everyone involved. Click here to view my Historical Writers Choice Board Thinglink.
Creating My Thinglink Image
To create my Historical Writers Choice Board, my first plan of action was to either find or create an eye-catching graphic to be uploaded into Thinglink. To give it the look and feel I had visualized in my mind, I decided to create my own graphic in my favorite free design tool, Canva. If you are not familiar with Canva, Canva is a web-based design platform that allows you to create your own graphics either from scratch or by choosing from a huge selection of pre-made templates (both free and paid). If you’d like to create your own free account in Canva and explore it for yourself, click on the following link: Canva
Once in Canva, I clicked on the Presentation (16:9) template (shown below) and a blank template appeared for me to get started on my creation.
From there I created my own custom background by clicking on the background tab from the left-side menu, then choosing the free wood grain background that I decided to change from it’s initial black color to brown.
Finally, I clicked on the Elements tab and perused through the icons and illustrations that I wanted to use. I added the book images, the bow and arrow, the hat, and the flag icon. The additional icons were images I already owned that were uploaded and added. Once I was finished, I clicked File>Save, then clicked Download to download my image as a .png file to my desktop.
Uploading My Graphic to Thinglink
My next step was to upload my graphic to Thinglink. Thinglink is a platform available via web and app that allows you to upload an image and bring it life by adding tagged links to an unlimited amount of multimedia resources. Thinglink has been my go-to tool for as long as I can remember because it allows me to provide students with engaging learning opportunities that allow them to interact with any content presented.
If you are new to Thinglink, you can easily sign-up for a free basic account to experiment this amazing platform for yourself by clicking here. Once you log-in to your Thinglink account, simply click the Create button to get started.
Next, follow the steps provided in the links below to upload your image and start inserting clickable tags to make your image come alive and create your own Thinglink Interactive Learning Menu.
I hope you found my ideas helpful and I wish you the best of luck as you create your own Interactive Thinglink Learning Menus and Choice boards.
Additional Choice Boards Ideas
To see additional Choice boards and resources I have created in Thinglink, click here: Christi Collins
About The Author
Christi Collins is a second rade Language Arts teacher at Virginia Virtual Academy and an adjunct instructor at the UVA-Wise/Center for Teaching Excellence in Wise, Virginia. Christi is a Thinglink Certified Educator who has been using Thinglink for many years to deliver instructional content in more engaging and meaningful ways. To follow Christi on Twitter: @christibcollins