Multiple Choice or No Multiple Choice, that is the Question!

To use multiple choice questioning or not, that is the question!


I have a strong feeling about multiple choice. It's more of a hate/love relationship really. In certain instances (a few) I like the option, but in many ways I try to avoid it. I find it encourages far too much guessing, and not enough valid data on what a student has truly learned. I saw this a lot in my classroom, usually with the students that are struggling the most.


The students who were secure in their knowledge of the subject area were going to do just fine no matter the questioning format. I see this so much with my own son, who has some struggles in school. If he is given a multiple choice test more often than not he'll just guess, sometimes not even bothering to really read the questions! In creating work for him I always avoid using multiple choice, except in certain types of situations. He has an IEP, and unfortunately more often than not the teachers have turned to M/C for him as an accommodation and then express frustration at his effort and guessing. If he is dealt a short answer question he is much more apt to look for the answer in the work or work the problem out for himself. If the option to guess it there, he'll always guess and he'll keep guessing until he's eliminated the 3 wrong answers. Yes, he'll eventually get the correct answer, but does that show he knows it or retained it?

I know multiple choice can be a huge time saver for the teacher. It is much quicker and easier to correct papers with multiple choice rather than written answers. I get it, but is it the right choice? What is our ultimate goal? To know the student understood and learned what we were teaching right? How can we be sure with a M/C that it is retained knowledge and not a lucky guess we got?

There are some cases (when done correctly) where I think M/C is fine. In a math problem for instance:


The reason the problem on the left is the wrong way is because the most common mistake a student will make in this instance is the misuse of PEDMA. They will just work the problem from left to right and end up with 6 for the answer. If this is one of the options in the M/C they will choose that and move on, not having any idea that they made a mistake.  Instead, if they worked the problem in this manner and the 6 was not an option they would know they did something wrong and go back and check their work. Of course the guesser, who doesn't even work out the problem could happen in either case, but the majority of the time the student will stop and take a closer look. I am not an advocate for tricking the student, and in this case that is exactly what you do when you give them a problem like the one on the left. It's much less discouraging to a child to have to rework to find a correct answer than to get a test back that they failed due to being tricked!

One of the main resources I offer is novel studies. In my novel studies there are only two places where you will find multiple choice options. First, there is an end of the book vocabulary quiz. A sentence with the word is offered and then there are 4 choices of a definition. Again, there are the guessers who just guess, but most students will be able to know the true definition when used in context after the successful completion of the novel study activities.

The other M/C option I added based on buyer requests is an end of the unit comprehension quiz. I have an identical quiz in a short answer format, this is what I prefer and use with my students. I have had many buyers ask for a M/C option so I have provided that, but I personally don't use it for the reasons that I have mentioned above.

Where I have not changed my product based on buyer requests is in the comprehension portion of the novel study itself, and I won't be adding it. I feel very strongly that while reading the book the student should be thinking about what they're reading in a deeper way. Using multiple choice for comprehension during the reading of the novel encourages the student to skim the text for the answer. It also means most of your questioning will be of the lower order of Bloom's Taxonomy. I use novels to get away from the M/C type skimming that you encounter in a basal series. My goal for using novel studies is to get my student engaged in a novel and to think deeply about the character's motives, make inferences, etc.  I just don't think this can be done properly using multiple choice questions. To maintain the integrity and rigor of my novel studies, I just won't be changing this. I know there are some buyers who are disappointed in this stance and I know that some buy from my competitors due to this stance, and I apologize to them, but it's something that I feel very strongly about.



Another reason I stay away from M/C is because it is far too much like the standardized testing that I am not a fan of. Mainly for all the reasons stated above. I want my students to be deep thinkers, not guessers. Of course the whole topic of standardized testing is a post for another day! ;)





Wonder in the Classroom!

I wrote a blog post in October 2013 about the new novel study that I had just created for Wonder by R. J. Palacio. This novel study has become my top seller and I have made some updates. The biggest update being that it is now compatible with Google Drive™! The file contains both a printable format to be used in the traditional manner, and also a Google Drive™ format that you can use in a paperless classroom or with your Google Classroom account! 

I am using this novel study with my son this summer using the Google Drive™ option and he loves it! It is so easy for him to work on the computer or iPad as he reads and it is easy for me to check his progress through Google Drive™.


With all the updates I think it is worth revisiting/updating the post. Here it is!






From October 2013:


I just finished up creating a new unit for the novel, Wonder by R. J. Palacio. Of all the curriculum materials I create novel units are my favorite, but creating Wonder By R.J. Palacio Novel Unit Study~ Common Core Standards Aligned! by far has been my all time favorite! It has been a long time since a novel has prompted me think so deeply on so many levels.







Summary of Wonder:


(From the Book Jacket)
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?



Auggie's struggles are written on his face. You go into the book knowing you are going to read about a kid who's going to have a tough struggle. The surprising thing with this book is that you end up realizing that the other "normal" characters who seem to have it all on the outside, they are beautiful, rich, smart, etc, all have some type of struggle as well. This book really makes you look beyond the cover and delve deeper underneath. It is a wonderful resource to strengthen empathy and learn to not be so quick to judge a "book by its cover" so to speak. This led me to a great after the book writing activity that corresponds with Plato's quote: “Be Kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”




One thing I really love about the unit I was able to create was how the text lent itself to higher order thinking questions. There are very few knowledge level (recall) or even comprehension level questions in the comprehension packet section of the unit. The vast majority are analysis and evaluation level questions because that is just where the text leads you. The book is just so thought provoking!


If you've purchased any of my other novel units you will find this unit set up a little bit differently. This book is written in eight parts so I have expanded the vocabulary activities to cover the eight parts. The comprehension assessments come after Part 1, Part 2, Part 5, and the end of the book instead of waiting until the very end as I do in my other units.


As with my other units this unit is aligned to the Common Core Standards for grades 4-6 and contains the alignment checklists for all of the activities.


I loved how R.J. Palacio subtly adds the character of Daisy the dog as the only soul who does not "see" Auggie's facial abnormalities. Through Daisy's interactions Ms. Palacio shows the unconditional love of animals. This prompted me to add a Reading Informational activity to the unit involving therapy dogs and animal assisted therapy. I know teachers are looking for Common Core aligned resources to help with Reading Informational Text skills so I added this small activity into the unit. I also have offered it as a stand alone free activity, that can be downloaded here:



informational reading work



As you can tell I loved this book. It is one of the best books I have read in a long time and I think it would serve well in any 4-6th grade classroom. However, I do have one minor complaint. In the book Auggie also deals with a hearing loss and there is a chapter that describes his experience in getting fitted for a hearing aid for the first time. I am also hearing impaired and have worn hearing aids for several years. In some ways Ms. Palacio was spot on describing Auggie's feelings about wearing hearing aids around his friends and how he may be perceived. However, Ms. Palacio was very off the mark when she described the experience of getting hearing aids and how they work. This is very understandable as I am sure most people do think that wearing hearing aids is very much like wearing glasses, which is how Ms.Palacio describes the experience. In reality it is nothing like that. After reading this chapter in the book I felt so strongly that I felt the need to add my own supplement to the unit explaining what it is really like to wear hearing aids and have a hearing loss in our modern world. I hope this supplement is helpful to your students. It is also aligned to the CCSS for Reading Informational Text and is offered as a stand alone item here:

reading information activity


As I mentioned I loved this book! :) It hits on so many issues in the modern classroom and appeals to such a wide audience. It really is a must read!


Please go to my TpT store and download the free preview to see sample pages of all parts of this unit as well as the complete CCSS alignment checklist for grades 4-6 in its entirety. Please email with any questions you may have!



Product Description:


Book unit for Wonder by RJ Palacio, is Common Core Standard aligned and











contains both a printable format, as well as a Google Drive™ compatible format.


This is a complete novel study that includes many individual products bundled together to offer you extensive savings! This comprehensive unit also includes Google Drive™ format files, additional writing activities, teacher plans, and CCSS alignment that you cannot find in the individual components. This complete novel study is by far your best value!


This unit is designed to be used with some student/instructor interaction, but can easily be used as an independent study for the student. It is written for the 4-6th grade reading level.


This unit works great in a one-on-one setting for homeschool or for a teacher to use as a resource in the classroom for a small group or entire class. The unit is designed so that you can start teaching immediately with little to no preparation on your part. Great time saver!

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This unit contains:

Teacher Packet containing:

How to use a novel study book unit approach with Wonder by R.J. Palacio•Detailed daily lesson plans
•Answer keys

Student Packet (both printable and Google Drive™ format) containing:

 Vocabulary activities for 126 words. 
 Comprehension questions for every chapter. 
 In-depth character studies and writing activities for each section of the novel. 
•Two different non-fiction reading articles and accompanying activity guides that compliment the novel.
• Hearing Loss Reading Informational Activity 
• Therapy Dog Reading Informational Activity 
•Four In-depth writing and analysis activities to complete after reading the book. **Only available in this complete Novel Study Product!

An Assessment Packet that contains: 

•Vocabulary quiz with both matching and multiple choice questions.
•Four Comprehension quizzes that include short answer, multiple choice, and essay writing for use after Parts 1, 2, 5, and the end of the book.

An End of the Book Activity Packet that can be used with any book.


A Story Elements Interactive Notebook Activity Packet  (both printable and Google Drive™ format) that can be used with any book.


Common Core Standard Alignment Checklists for grades 4-6.This is included at the end of the unit so if you do not need it you can easily discard without changing the unit itself. To see how this is set up please see the free preview for the CCSS checklist in its entirety.






You can also purchase this novel study from Amazon. Using this option the file is mailed to you on a CD. Click on the cover picture to be taken to the product listing if you prefer this method: