Tic-Tac-Toe Boards

Graphic tic tac toeTic-Tac-Toe Boards, like Choice Boards, provide teachers with a way to give their students choices about the ways they process or demonstrate what they know, understand, and are able to do after a given lesson. Like Choice Boards and Agendas, Tic-Tac-Toe Boards offer choice within a structure prescribed by the teacher. Of the three choice-based strategies, Tic-Tac-Toe Boards offer the highest choice and require the highest level of self-direction and initiative from students.

Tic-Tac-Toe Boards rely on student self-directedness because it is not possible to prescribe the sequence in which activities are completed (as you can with Choice Boards, if you elect to do so). Teachers should not use this strategy if they want students to complete activities in a certain order.

Therefore, Tic-Tac-Toe Boards are typically used for the end-products of assignments (demonstrations of learning) that might be required in a series of lessons or in a unit of study. Each choice results in a mini-product that requires, at the least, application of what has been learned. Depending on the readiness of students, choices on Tic-Tac-Toe Boards may reflect higher levels of critical thinking: analysis, and synthesis.

Tic-Tac Toe Boards are an excellent way for teachers to differentiate based on learning preferences. The Tic-Tac-Toe Board might provide options for nine different ways of demonstrating different aspects of one major skill or understanding, each based on a different intelligence. The example provided demonstrates how this might look.

Alternatively, the Tic-Tac-Toe Board could be organized so that all students have to complete activities at several levels of difficulty. In this way, students can’t find an “easy way out” because all choices would offer both challenge and comfort. Example B demonstrates how this might look. Still another way to use Tic-Tac-Toe Boards is to organize choices for two levels of readiness on the same Board, then prescribe who would do which group of activities. If you look at Example C, you can see how this might work. Advanced students would do the diagonal from lower left to upper right (A-All-A). Below grade-level students would do the activities in the middle horizontal row (B-All-B).  Students at readiness levels in between would select any of the other options, which are a mix of A- and B-level options.

Finally, as with the Choice Board strategy, you can also create multiple Tic-Tac-Toe Boards for more than the original level of ability. In the best of all worlds, this enables all students to have the same number of choices and the same flexibility. Each board provides an appropriate degree of challenge for groups of students who are at different ability levels.

Click here to view examples of Tic-Tac-Toe Boards. 
Note: The labels of (A) for at grade level and (B) for below grade level are for planning purposes only! A teacher would not include such labels in an actual Tic-Tac-Toe Board.