Engaging a Non-compliant Student: Using a Learning Menu

  • Situation

    I have a student in my regular 5th grade classroom, who does not have a diagnosis of any kind. However, he often displays oppositional behaviors. He will refuse to open his eyes, pick his head up off the desk, answer questions, and has recently shown an increase in speaking out in a disrespectful manner towards his teachers. He does not lack the ability to do any of these. Often these defiant behaviors occur when he does not want to engage in a particular classroom assignment, either because he feels unsure of his own abilities or because he feels the exercise/activity/assignment is meaningless and irrelevant. I have several forms of whole-class positive reinforcement systems, but he does not always respond. I have also tried additional individual positive reinforcement tools that he has not responded to either. Can you give some ideas as to how I can help him be more engaged and cooperative in class? Thank you for your insight. I welcome any guidance!

  • Summary

    When students become non-compliant around tasks that they perceive as too difficult or irrelevant, engage them by using a Learning Menu. A Learning Menu is a way of structuring assignments and activities with built in flexibility so that students can work at their own level and help choose how they learn, using their strengths and individual learning styles.  A Learning Menu can be based on several different themes; some of the most popular include a Tic Tac Toe theme, a Baseball theme and a Dinner Menu theme. Learning Menus can be used for group projects as well as individual assignments and include demonstration of required content as well as opportunities for enrichment so that all learners can work up to their potential.

  • Definition

    A Learning Menu or a Choice Menu is a differentiation strategy that can be used for whole class assignments and projects as well as individuals. It allows students to make decisions about how they will meet the assignment requirements. By differentiating within the lessons themselves and offering built-in choices, students take a more active part in the process of learning.

  • Quick Facts

    • Child's Age: 6-10, 11-13, 14-17
    • Planning Effort: Moderate
    • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Pre-requisites

    Knowledge of lesson content from minimum objectives to enrichment opportunities

  • Process

    1. To set up a Learning Menu, first assess the lesson and identify the key concepts/themes in the assignment.

    2. Identify the minimum content you want all students to acquire.

    3. Identify areas of enrichment or extra credit opportunities

    4. A good menu should include different ways to demonstrate individual learning styles such as written, visual, oral, etc.

    5. Include a section for flexibility or free choice if possible

    6. Pick a format (popular ones include Tic Tac Toe or a Dinner Menu).  *See resources below. Different formats can address different objectives and content.

    7. Tie the Learning Menu to a point based system or other reinforcement system.

    8. Monitor your students for completion after each section.

  • Documents and Related Resources

    Learning Menu Sample (PDF)


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