You Can Get with This or Get with That: Infusing This or That Choice Boards in the Classroom

Offering choice is an excellent way of creating engagement in the classroom. Simply providing choice is not enough. According to Katz and Assor (2006), the types of choices we offer students are critical. I like to say, "it's not the choice, but the type of choice that matters." 

Effective choice should offer (Katz & Assor, 2006):

  • Autonomy - Do students have opportunities for choice, evaluation, and decision-making? 
  • Competence - Do students have an appropriate amount balance of rigor, relevance, and mastery? 
  • Connectedness - Do students feel a sense of belonging and accomplishment?

Choice shouldn't be a free frawl because too much choice can be paralyzing. The key is offering structured-choice that provides opportunities for students to exercise autonomy, competence, and connectedness. Research suggests that our brains are wired to handle between 2 and 9 choices. In other words, 2 - 9 options are the "sweet spot." 

This or That Choice Board

One of my favorite tools for offering structured choice is the This or That Choice Board. Here is a sample Math This or That Choice Board that I created in Google Docs. 

The idea is for students to complete four tasks or one in each column. Each column is aligned to a specific skill, concept, or standard. Students have two different ways to demonstrate mastery.  

Would you like your own template? Click HERE! 

What If I Don't Have Flexibility? 

If you are like many teachers, a This or That Choice board can be the perfect solution for classrooms that don't have a lot of flexibility. For instance, you may not have much flexibility with the content, as students may have to solve multi-digit addition and subtraction problems. However, you could provide students with the autonomy to choose one problem or the other.

Another variation to this example is having a problem for students to solve in the first row and an opportunity to create their own word problem on the bottom row. In this example, I provide the answer to a word problem, but students have to develop a solution that makes sense. 

This or That Choice Boards are also beneficial for providing students flexibility in the process of learning a new concept. Take, for instance, the following This or That Choice Board on Volume. Students will go through the board to meet the academic standard in their own way. 


Remember, it is not the choice but the type of choice that matters most in the classroom. Effective choice provides students with opportunities to exercise autonomy, connectedness, and competence. Although choice is important, staying in the "sweet spot" of 2 to 9 choices is important, making a This or That Choice Boards extremely helpful! 

Connectedness - Do students feel a sense of belonging and accomplishment?

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