This is a professional development blog. We'll be discussing books we read as a group. Our discussions will be focused on gifted children.
I have actually been using this strategy since the TAGT conference in 2000 in my old district. I absolutely love it. The students also enjoy being able to have the power to chose their activity and have 'control' over what they can do. I enjoy how the students begin to analyze their learning abilities and pick activities that highlight their qualities. As stated on page 110 the ability to have all learning types available to the student really help the teacher connect the materials to the child in meaningful ways that then allows the student to enjoy the learning process. The main subject that I use Think-Tac-Toe in is math units. When we were studying decimals the students were given a grid that contained various activities that revolved around that topic - we also had decimals, fractions, multiplication etc. the grid is very easy to create and like the book suggests on page 130 you will need to pick different assessment strategies each time. I have found that, many of the GT students will tend to focus on one activity if you only grade one.
I think that the most likely way I would use the Think-Tac-Toe in a science class would be on the long term projects the students are assigned. They would have time to develop their ideas and present their products. I think using it on shorter time period activities might be very difficult, the continuity might leave the lesson. I also think this method should require the students to think and solve problems in science and that takes time.
I agree with s.hardie about the students having the power to pick areas of activity that they are strong in or feel more confident in, but I think the activities might also be designed to stretch the students abilities and allow (force) them to leave their comfort zone every once in a while. They might discover new areas to expand their abilities into and in a safe classroom setting not feel threatened about trying something new.
I agree with oliverl. I think the think-tac-toe is more suited for longer time frames. I have found that it works really well for those students that have passed the 'pretest' for week's unit being studied. They can then begin the more in-depth activities while the teacher can small group teach the other individuals.
I found the figure 7.7 Think-Tac-Toe Weather interesting. It is designed for 3rd grade students. I need to consider ways to make it easier for beginning of the year 2nd graders, since we start the weather unit in August. I'm thinking of applying Think-Tac-Toe to our upcoming economics unit. Creating songs about wants and needs, or creating a game would be excellent uses of student time.
I have already begun to use Think Tac Toes as well. We had Laurie Westphal at Bunker Hill earlier in the year to talk to us about learning menus, and I have since implemented them in my classroom. While reviewing for Math Taks, my higher kids who need enrichment work on a menu accomplishing the same objective I am reviewing. They absolutely love it, especially my highly creative GT kiddos!
I agree with shardie in that it is so powerful to give the kids "control" over their learning in the form of Think Tac Toe menus. I also think it is very important to structure the activities so that they have to stretch themselves and possibly do something they are not great at to challenge them!
One challenge faced by third grade teachers is the development of avid readers. I would like to use the Think-tac-toes on pages 117-119 (with a few modifications)to coincide with the novels they are reading. They could use the rubrics in language arts work stations, with transition to using them for their home reading and writing in their reading journals. I like the differentiation this provides, as well as the opportunities for stretching their thinking...not to mention that choice will increase their interest and motivation levels.
As a counselor, I usually don't have the classroom time available to develop long (or short) term projects with the students. However, I do think that Think-tac-toe could work well with ongoing small groups. I was particularly thinking of applying a Think-tac-toe similar to Figure 7.2 on p. 106 for a small group working on friendship skills made up of 4th and 5th graders. Rather than symbols, songs, and places for the categories, I would use Symbols, Songs, and Games that the girls could create demonstrating an understanding of the social skills necessary to make and maintain healthy friendships. Presenting one of the products they have created to the others, would be a great culminating project for the group.
I am impressed with the Think-tac-toe differentiating strategy and would like to try to implement it with my resource classes. I would use it with math facts as a way to reinforce the recall of multiplication and division for my struggling fifth graders. This could be used as an activ-board game activity or workstation which would allow the participants to actively engage in the use of math technology signs and tools. Struggling students will have a choice that might stimulate the motivation to increase and process the content without the added pressures of the timed drills and fact tests.
We recently finished science projects, much as oliverl has suggested earlier, in third grade. Next time I will highly recommend Think-tac-toes to the grade level team. Students will have time to spend on the project. Their individual differences will be much more valued. Also, when smarter children finish early, the opportunity to stretch their thinking is right there!
Melanie mentions earlier that she would like to try Think-tac-toes for the third grade economics unit. She encourages me to NOT hesitate with sharing them with my team members for a unit. The kiddos would so much more benefit from a product they have selected to produce, something fun for them, yet meaningful. Thank you. Procrastination is an ill wind.
The tic-tac-toe strategy was in another book I read this year about increasing Rigor. I think, not only our GT kids, but all students can benefit fromt his strategy. Obviously it will take more planning on my part, but it must be effective for mutliple sources to cite this method.
In response to scentanni, I think reviewing concepts is a fantastic way to implement the tic tac toe method and I am going to try it. I really need to get planning...
I have used the Tic-Tac-Toe strategy before and the kids really like it because they get to pick which assignments look interesting or fun to them. As a 5th grade math teacher, I have been using this strategy with the Math Navigator Program we were trained on a few years ago. The students take a pretest at the beginning of each unit and the students that qualify complete a Tic-Tac-Toe menu that focuses on the same skills, but at a higher level. I have also been using this strategy while reviewing for the TAKS test. I used the released benchmark data off of Eduphoria and created Tic-Tac-Toe menus that go along with the six different math objectives. If a student made a 90 or above on a certain objective they get to work on the enrichment menu, while I review and reteach the other students.
I agree with s.hardie. It is always interesting to see what activities the student analyze over and then pick to do on their Tic-Tac-Toe. It allows you to get to know your students particular interests and learning styles. I also love to see how each student’s final product can be so different creatively, but they all have the correct answer! It allows me to plan better lessons in the future that meet the particular needs and learning styles of my students.
I have never used the Think-Tac-Toe framework, but I most definitely will try it! I am impressed by the versatility of the model, as well as the control the teacher has over the methods of presentation. For my fourth graders, I can use a Think-Tac-Toe format (such as the one presented in Figure 7.12, p. 117) to encourage my students to explore story elements in more depth. Activities based on the Multiple Intelligences can be incorporated into the format. I also like the fact that you can create two different grids, a less challenging one and a more challenging one. Developing a grid around Bloom's Taxonomy would give me another option for dealing with the diversity of learning abilities in a classroom. This is a teaching tool that has endless possiblities! It enables educators and students to think creatively!
Katie states that, "Not only our GT kids, but all students can benefit from this strategy." I agree 100%! I have no GT students in my classroom this year, but as I read this chapter, I couldn't help getting excited about the variety of ways I can use this strategy in my classroom. ALL students need choices, and ALL students need to feel empowered. Everyone in the classroom has something to contribute, and Think-Tac-Toe is an engaging, fun way to tap into our students' creaative thinking.
The Think-Tac-Toe is new to me, but I am intrigued and think it will be a wonderful way to challenge the kids. I would love to try it with their book club books or maybe even an author's study. I love that they have the ability to choose the activities they will do, as stated on page 129. I think all of us love it when we can have the opportunity to choose what interests us the most. You tend to get better quality work because they have some control.
Kandel's fan, I agree! Since this is a new technique for me I don't want to put it off. You have encouraged me to try it with my class sooner than later. I think that kids having the option of choice will be a motivator for both the student and me!
The Think-Tac_Toe is similar to a workshop I attended at CAST this past October on integrating learning menus in science. The workshop covered how to create a menu as well as various strategies for implementation. One of the strategies was to utilize a tic-tac-toe pattern where no matter which direction the student went on the board in order to complete a line it moved them up the levels of blooms so that projects were differentiated by blooms levels. Students could not just pick three application level projects, but rather had to complete an application, synthesis, and evaluation (all based on placement on the board). The students didn't actually know what levels the projects were at - they just knew that each one was different in what it asked them to do.
I love the tic tac toe strategy. I think this would be a great way for students to participate in the stock market. The students would choose stocks to track and then be given a menu of items they could create to analyze and show the performance of the stocks. I really like using tic tac toe as a unit assessment. Many of my students are LEP and special education students who do not always do well on the traditional multiple choice tests. I know that it would take longer to grade, but the students would have more room to use their strengths to show what they learned. I could also see using the tic tac toe tool when teaching the budget unit at the end of my economics course. The students could be given a variety of budget activities to choose from.
Mcushing- I love the idea of creating a tic tac toe menu where they have to complete three different levels of learning without the students realizing that is what is happening. I feel that some of the lower level student may feel secure knowing that not all three tasks are super complicated. It would be interesting to see if you could add bonus points to bump up some of the lower level activities on the tic tac toe menu.
I think the Think Tac Toe strategy is a creative way to motivate the students by giving them a choice in which way to show what they know. I have given my class the interest survey which I highly recommend. I use the ideas from their survey to plan different projects/assignments and the kids enjoy doing more for it. I need to do more research into the multiple intelligences to see what the different types are all about. I also believe that this would be a super way to help students who don't master the first round of TAKS testing. Might give intervention a whole new face!
I really enjoyed the comment by kandel's fan about having the kids use their rubrics for reading workstations, and carrying it over into their independent reading life. What a great idea! Thanks
I just started using Think Tac Toes. We have science readers that go home each week and the students are giving a wide variety of different categories.( Example page 124) The students get to express what they’ve read and learned about their subjects in a way that best suites their individual learning styles. The students have written paragraphs about their science reader, done interviews, posters, power points, and photo stories. It has been amazing seeing what the students bring in……and they are learning too.
In response to Katie Kavanagh, I agree that “ALL” students can benefit from this strategy and it does take more planning on our part but the results are so worth it……
I completely agree with Patty! As a Librarian, I don't have tons of time with kids all the time, but using the think-tac-toe with small ongoing groups is a great idea! I've tried a couple of times to come up with something that works for book clubs and with PGP and this could very well be it!
Kandel's fan - I love the idea of a modified think-tac-toe for your novels! I would love to help you or work with some of your kids on these! Let me know and we'll do it!
I've seen and even tried to use think-tac-toes before, but this chapter really breaks them down for me. I feel quite confident that I could take one of the ones in the book, particularly the ones on pp. 118-119, and make them work for my purposes. Since I'm not the "teacher of record" for most of the kids I work with, this will take some modification, and maybe some teacher arm-twisting, but I feel like this is just what some of our kids need. Every child needs choice, as is repeated several times in the book, and this is the perfect avenue to offer it. When my son came home with a think-tac-toe for his language arts project in middle school, he was much more motivated. I didn't have to remind him a million times to work on it. He just did, because he was interested and had a choice about how to present his work. If only he had more choice all the time! He might actually put forth the effort to show how smart he really is!
I have already begun to use the tic tac toe strategy with both reading and spelling activities. The Spelling menu I created for this week included activities spanning tactile art projects, to story writing to jumping out the letters of the words. I plan on implementing a variation of the Short Story Menu after we review the elements of Fiction this week. I am anxious to see how the children choose and anticipate a higher quality of work than I have seen in the past, very exciting!
I also would like to implement the strategy to review different physical science concepts such as solutions and mixtures. I especially like how the board in Figure 7.4 has a vocabulary bank at the bottom that the students are required to use. I will include activities such as vocabulary tables, interviewing experts that use mixture and solutions within their career, creating their own mixture/solution then write up the investigation that would be used to determine which of the two it was, analyzing a series of recipes to determine if they use mixtures and solutions, making a brochure that describes each of the two.
I have to say that I agree with oliverl in that students should be encouraged to step outside of their comfort zone every once in a while. I think making tic tac toes could become a regular part of my classroom, and once students have become familiar with the format I would encourage them to do one activity that they had never done before. If enough variety is provided they will never be locked into doing something they hate, rather just encouraged to try something new, and in turn push themselves to explore new abilities.
I think sanchezh and oliverl are right that students sometimes have to be encouraged to challenge themselves. The same holds true for teachers and creating really great Think-Tac-Toes will certainly do that!
As a Resource teacher, I see huge potential in using Think-Tac-Toes as a means for me to support my students and classroom teachers by adapting and modifying the criteria to meet their readiness and ability levels. Even better though, is the idea that Think-Tac-Toes being used is a sign that everyone in the classroom has the attitude "that not everyone will learn everything in the same way."
I have used this strategy several times in the past without realizing what the name was. I teach government and have my students choose different hands on activities to understand concepts such as voting behavior and civic participation. The students like having the choice of activities to learn the concepts. When teaching Bill of Rights, I might give the students a menu that they can choose from that will allow them to take real life experiences pertaining to the amendments.
Commenting on jmelanconI really liked the suggestion of using the Tic Tac Toe stragetgy for TAKS review. I also like the suggestion of getting to choose off of the menu if the student has mastered the content. I am going to use what sanchez suggested to encourage students to try an activity that they are not used to. They may find that they really enjoy it.
I too agree with Katie, I think this tool will be useful for all students. Looking at the tic-tac-toe, I am getting an idea for an end of the year project that will keep the kids focused and learning after the TAKS test since many of them try to shut down. In history we tend to skim over recent history due to time constraints but by having them choose from different rows, I can encourage them to learn about several decades and tap into their interests be it art, music, reading, etc. With my mix of classes that include GT, academic, and Sp.Ed. each assignment can be reworked to the students level.
I like the idea of incorporating the t-t-o with end of unit projects. Teaching younger children I have to make sure that they have enough experience with a variety of products so that they can choose well and complete projects. I only teach math and science this year so I am going to try to put together one for an end of the birds project in May.
I agree with Sharon G about giving the students choices related to their interests to increase motivation. I also like the idea expressed by Matthew C about hiding levels of Blooms in the t-t-o without directly revealing the level of challenge. I have gotten so many good ideas for differentiation from this book and blog.
Debra p - I agree with making sure that students have enough exposure to the material to be successful, especially with younger children. I think it would be a great way to assess what your students have learned in the bird unit. There are lots of possibilities for projects that could be incorporated into a bird unit and some great ideas that we have learned at Rice this year should serve as authentic assessments.
I am planning to use the Tic Tac Toe strategy for 3 students who are able to perform slightly above level, but consistently choose unchallenging projects and activities when given options to choose. It has been like pulling teeth to get them dig deep, analyze, or do anything that takes them more than 45 minutes to complete at a mastery level. I think the Tic Tac Toe strategy will be a non-confrontational and passively coercive (shhhhh!) manner of getting them to choose more challenging activities/projects.
I went to Curry/Samara training years ago in my previous district. Now I just need to find all that stuff! I'm doing all intervention at the moment, so I don't think the Think Tac Toe would be useful there. In my case, if I was doing an extended training, it might be a good way to differentiate for the various levels of teaching experience in my building. I also think it would work if I worked with one group of students over a long period of time. I think I could tweak it so that would work.
I really like mcushing's ideas of integrating Blooms throughout the Think Tac Toe board. I think that controlled choice can be so powerful for both students and teacher. How great to give the students a choice while knowing that you are moving the kids to higher level of thinking without them really realizing it. (That sounds almost devious, but it's not really.)
These tic-tac-toes remind me of the Navigators menus I provide some of my students with when they test out of different units in math. I really like the example of the trigonometry vocabulary project Tic-tac-toe (Figure 7.4 on page 108). While I don't teach trig, one of the things I do stress quite a bit in my classroom is understanding and using appropriate mathematical vocabulary, without a solid foundation in math vocabulary it can sometimes make it difficult to demonstrate mastery of a concept. I would like to create a tic-tac-toe similar to this but for the vocabulary words applicable to my students, such as geometry or measurement vocab. I also like Figure 7.19 on page 124 which relates to measurement. I could easily scale this up to reflect my grade level TEKS with respect to measurement.
Like s acevedo, I, too, have the students that don't go out of their way to challenge themselves. For example, when my kids that qualify for Navigators are given a variety of different "independent study" activities which they are to work on when I'm teaching the concepts for which they've tested out, most will opt to get started on thos that are more simple and less time consuming. In order to make sure they are doing something with more rigor, I usually "mandate" at least one or two of the activities that MUST be done by the time they are finished.
as susanm and sacevedo have mentioned, I too have students that do not challenge themselves or try to find an easy way out. My issue with many of my students is that they try to push the boundaries of time constraints and will try to drag out an assignment. We have done menus this year, but now I am curious to try the think-tac-toe to get the students to the higher level thinking without realizing it.
I have been using menus this past year, but the Think-tac-toe has really helped me to be more organized and even more intentional. The rows/columns of options based on subject, learning style, ability, etc. allow so much student choice. They also have the ability to challenge the student to choose something (if the teacher makes this expectation on the rubric) outside of what's comfortable to them. The Think-tac-toe is "designed for children of varying abilities and readiness levels, it's more of a Cracker Jack scenario than a competetive one" (page 114). This is such a true statement! Students know when they are in the low group/assignment or high group/assignment. This reinforces a climate of choice and differentiation verses comparison, which can be pretty unhealthy at times.
I just love this idea of Think Tac Toes! I have not used this before, but really love the concept. I am planning to use it in PGP when we study inventors/inventions. After reading about notable mistakes that turned out to be great inventions, I think using the Think Tac Toe would be the perfect tool for allowing students to choose what products to create while researching their inventors.
Matthew C you were thoughtful with your suggestion to “hide” Bloom’s in the T-T-T without directly revealing the level of challenge. It is obvious you have used the ideas from this book as a starting point for you to increase your effective teaching through differentiating instruction. Your thoughts were enjoyed by many of the other bloggers during this book study.
There are great ideas wrapped up in this section for younger and older students alike. The authors shared solid suggestions and “how-to’s” in putting effective instruction into a classroom with the concept of being creative and understand what you want from student’s product by being intentional with instruction. Currently, I am placing my thoughts towards how to use some of the strategies, like T-T-T in Professional Development.