The purpose of the activity is to have students demonstrate understanding by making a choice and moving to different areas in the classroom while interpreting words or sentences as they hear or read the information.
The teacher asks all students to stand up and come to the center of the room, pushing desks and chairs to the perimeter if necessary.
The teacher displays the first "This or That" slide, which generally displays a prompt requiring a decision to be made and two choices "this" or "that". Examples are show in Images below.
Students interpret the information presented on the slide or interpret what they hear, silently make a selection of either “this” or “that” and move accordingly to the appropriate side of the room.
If appropriate, the teacher reveals the correct answer.
The teacher asks students to return to the center of the room.
The process repeats until each statement has been shared.
Adaptation for Online/Distance Learning
The teacher shares a Google Slide with a template like the one shown below. When sharing the link with students, the teacher should be sure that the Google Slide is set to "anyone with link can edit".
The teacher shares their screen so that the class can see the document, and asks students to also open the document on their own devices. Students are given a prompt with two choices, for example: "Do you prefer the beach or the mountains?". They indicate their preference by typing their name in one of the columns.
A poll or survey app could be used instead of a Google Slide. The teacher would prepare poll questions for the students to answer live and would then display the student results after each question.
To extend the activity: At the novice level, the teacher asks a few random students to indicate their choice providing sentence starters as needed (e.g., I prefer to go to the beach for vacation). At intermediate and above, the teacher may choose to send students to breakout rooms for 30-60 seconds to have a brief conversation asking for, stating, and supporting their respective choices.
If the classroom does not allow physical movement, students could be given two different colors of paper, or a two-sided sign to hold up to indicate “this” or “that” from their desks.
If the teacher wanted to make sure students were not just relying on the answers of their classmates, they could ask students to sit at their desks and give an appropriate signal that others can't see.
The teacher can decide to have two or four options for this or that. See samples in Images below.
This activity can also be used to teach new vocabulary by designing "This or That" slides which contain a picture prompt and the "this" option is a word students already know while the "that" option is the new target vocabulary word which matches the picture. See the sample in Images below.
This activity can be modified to allow more advanced students to discuss controversial issues. The teacher would label the four choices as "Strongly Disagree", "Disagree", "Agree" and "Strongly Agree", present a statement with which students either agree or disagree, allow students to move to demonstrate their stance, and then allow students sufficient time to discuss their opinions. Ideally, students would first discuss their opinions with others sharing that opinion, then share out to the class, and finally (optionally) mix and mingle with students whose opinions differ and discuss/debate to try to reach a consensus. Before proceeding to the next statement, the teacher should give students one final chance to take a new stance based on the outcomes of their peer discussions.
This activity could include a language production element by incorporating an additional step of Think-Pair-Share. To do this, after choosing "this" or "that", the teacher would display some form of additional prompt or follow-up question on the slide. Then, students would take a few seconds to think of their own answer, find a partner, and either (a) ask/answer questions and discuss with a partner or (b) simply share their own responses with a partner before continuing with the activity.
With higher proficiency students, it would be best to add an additional follow-up question to some or all slides. This way, after students choose either "this" or "that", they would have time to use strings of sentences or paragraphs to explain their reason(s) to a partner or a small group.
With higher proficiency students, each round of this activity could be used to separate students into pairs or small groups for a mini-debate. That is, students make their "this" or "that" choice and then find a partner who agrees with their choice. They brainstorm reasons to support their choice together. Then, they join together with a couple students who made the opposite choice and each pair takes turns trying to convince the others to switch sides.
For lower proficiency students and/or when using this activity to introduce new vocabulary, visuals should be used as scaffolding to aid in comprehension. See samples in Images below.
Powerpoint slides with this or that options or prepared statements to share orally
A classroom that allows students to move from one side to the other easily