Differentiation through ‘Tic-Tac-Toe.’


If you are keen to explore ways in which you can offer choice to students in an engaging way that doesn’t end up in a chaotic mess of randomness, adopting a ‘Tic-Tac-Toe’ approach could be a useful strategy.

The premise is simply to generate nine options for the learners. These could be nine questions, nine tasks, nine quotes, nine resources…….. you get the picture. Then each of these options are laid out in a Tic-Tac-Toe gird. Your students then are required to ‘make a line’ by selecting three of the options. As the teacher, you can select the one option that is compulsory for all and place this in the middle square.

You can imagine an activity where you want students to develop students poem analysis. And by selecting a variety of nine quotes from the poem, you are encouraging students to be selective in the ones that they wish to work with rather than each students all working on the exact same quotes. It is even possible to differentiate by placing more challenging options across diagonal lines, where less challenging options may be on the verticals.

One of the liberating factors of this approach is the range of possibilities.

  • Present nine different questions about WW1 and students select the three they wish to research and write.
  • Present nine different objects and students select three that have to feature in a descriptive writing task.
  • Present nine different categories and students select three to feature as the columns for a table. Each of the rows could then be a different case study and the table is a means to compare and contrast.
  • Give students nine different activities (spider-diagram, table, poem, comic strip etc) and students (in groups) have a lesson to complete a line of three based on a topic of study.