Using Choice and Voice To Enhance Student Engagement with Tic Tac Toe Choice Boards in Elementary School-May 9, 2019

If you have ever listened to Kasey Bell @ShakeUpLearning or @GTTribe, you know how much she loves choice boards. Last spring, I began learning about choice boards when I read her new book, Shake Up Learning. I was all in. I loved this idea of incorporating both choice and voice into my assignments. If you've never heard about choice boards, you should definitely check out her book or episode 8 of her new podcast.

One type of choice board that Kasey talks about is a Tic Tac Toe Choice Board. I especially love using this type of choice board, since all students have a square that they "must do"- the center square #5. After they get a choice of 2 other boxes that they can complete to get tic tac toe. As a School Based Technology Specialist, I see all 20 classes, K-6, as part of the master schedule. To provide models for both students and teachers, I use strategies like the Tic Tac Toe Board, to model digital differentiation for my staff and students. Here are a few examples of how I have used these choice boards this year.

Grade 2: Famous Americans Tic Tac Toe Board

When my second grade team originally brought this project to the left to me, I was not quite sure how to proceed. First of all, I have never used Tinkercad- so that was my first stumbling block, but moreover, I wanted to make this project my own. The previous SBTS at my school, @tscesney, was kind enough to walk me through it- so my first problem was solved.

But how could I make this project my own? As I looked at the questions, @Flipgrid automatically popped into my mind. But were there other ways to incorporate choice and voice for the "green section?" So I went to the FCPS digital ecosystem library- there, I found a few more options- wait, I suddenly realized- this was becoming a Tic Tac Toe Choice Board.

All of my "blue options" focused on tools to share the answers to those three questions above. I chose 2 PC options that the students were pretty familiar with: @Flipgrid and #Wixie and two iPad options: @Chatterpixit and #Puppetpals.

For my "yellow options," I wanted students to build their 3D monuments in @Tinkercad- and added some choice with Minecraft and Lego options.

I was all ready to start- but I had never done a choice board with students in 2nd grade. How could I explain it to them? The slide show on the right shows how I introduced this to them.

First, we discussed why we called this a Tic Tac Toe board. Then I discussed how everyone MUST do the white #5 box and we talked about how we could get Tic Tac Toe.

After that, I explained each of the tools to the students using slides 2-7. Slide 8 was the student's algorithm or steps for independent work that day using icons to guide them.

Tic Tac Board- Grade 2

Grade 3 and 5: Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia Tic Tac Toe Choice Boards

When my third grade team shared that students were studying Ancient Egypt, I was all in for creating a Tic Tac Toe Choice Board. I had made a similar board for my fifth grade students in the fall about ancient Mesopotamia and was sure that I could use it as a base to get started.

As I reviewed this menu, there were a lot of things I liked about this activity

1. To begin with, all students started looking at a map and share a See, Think, Wonder (This is a thinking routine from Project Zero- where students share what they see, what they think and what they wonder) using Padlet.

I liked the idea of starting with a map again- but wanted to simplify it. Maybe I could incorporate 2 questions that made students think about the map of Greece- I see and I wonder.

2. Giving students choice over how they learned had worked very well- for my fifth graders, they could read or watch a video and then complete either a Google Form with another thinking routine- Connect, Extend, Challenge or do this on paper.

I wanted to give my third graders options too but wanted to give them an simpler way to share their learning. I chose having them share 3 things they learned on Flipgrid.

3. When studying ancient cultures, contributions are key. For my fifth graders, they used a list of research sites on a slide to share about their invention.

I wanted my third graders to learn about contributions as well. I found 2 pages on each invention on an online resource and asked them to complete a 3-2-1 organizer on their invention.

I also knew that my students in third grade would need some scaffolding for this format. Once again, I used a student algorithm with icons to build their understanding as shown on slides 2 and 3.

Slide 1 features my new Tic Tac Toe Board for my third graders. It met all of my aims.

  • It allowed students to learn about ancient Egypt in multiple ways- by reading/listening to a book or watching a video.

  • All students got to share their learning on a collaborative platform @Flipgrid.

  • All students got to learn about an invention or contribution from ancient Egypt.

  • All students got to share what they learned in a simple 1 page format that could be combined into a collaborative book.

Tic Tac Board- Grade 3

I love how these choice boards give both choice and voice to our students. I also love how their engagement increases as their interest does. Definitely check out Kasey's book or check out her podcast, episode #8. These are just a few examples of the boards I have made using this format. I look forward to seeing how both my second and third graders do as they continue and conclude these projects!