Differentiation with Menus: Social Studies by Laurie Westphal – A Review

This book was recommended to me by a teacher whose opinion I respect, so I ordered it immediately and anxiously waited for it to come in the mail.

Friday afternoon there was an Amazon box on my doorstep and I sat down and read it immediately.

I think the book has many good qualities:

  • It is thin – only 113 pages long. There is a 12 page introductory chapter on the benefits of “choice” and a description of the menu types found in the book.
  • There are four basic types of menus described in the book – clearly described with advantages and limitations.
  • The “meat” of the book is a collection of menus that can be used in social studies classes – from ancient history, to United States history, to government. I find it helpful to have examplars to work from.
  • The book also includes a list of assignments with descriptors and a general assignment rubric.

It is a starter “how to” manual for designing a menu, but it is not a guide to implementation. If you are looking for classroom management or organization strategies, this book is not for you. If you have already done some work with tiered assignments or choice boards, this book is not for you.

I don’t regret buying it – I gleaned some ideas from it, and it will be great to share with colleagues who are just getting started. It is, in my opinion, for beginners only.


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