Chicago’s deep dish pizza is just as awesome as advertised! If you make it here, get some, especially at Giordano’s.
If you’ve ever seen the $25,000 Pyramid hosted by Dick Clark, then you get the gist of this game. (I provided pictures of the original game below my descriptions.)
Basically, I have one student face the screen and one student with his/her back to the screen. Next, I reveal the categories to the student facing the screen who must then describe what is on the screen to his/her partner without saying the category. That’s for the partner to guess.
For example, if Tommy is facing Cindy and the screen and sees “Superhero Secret Identities,” then he will start saying things like “Clark Kent” (Superman), “Bruce Wayne” (Batman), “Peter Parker” (Spiderman), etc. When Cindy figures out these are Superhero Secret Identities, then Tommy begins to describe the next category.
When all of the categories have been identified, the two players stand or raise their hands. I usually keep going as a class until most of the students have finished (no real time limit unless the kids get stuck); sometimes I allow the whole class to finish, but some of my students must be kept busy. I’m sure you have a few of these kids too.
Then we play again, but the partners switch. If I have an odd number of students, I play with a student. It’s fun for me as well.
With my high school English students my categories might be “Examples of Irony” or “Examples of Alliteration” or “Characters Who Died” or “Heroes” or something like that. However, I have sometimes played with just fun categories to get kids thinking in different ways.
Regardless, it’s a good review game and you may even find that your students like to provide categories for future use.
Below are some pictures of the original show, but I usually just type up a quick diagram or project one I’ve drawn and project onto the screen.
I know it’s common, but the Jepoardy-style game is a fantastic one for reviewing information (or seeing how much the class knows about new information). A number of reasons for my use of this game are detailed below.
(1) Of course, kids love technology and they love games. This makes the Jeopardygame a “two-fer.” I would recommend downloading a game board that you like using a Google search. Some are very much like the game show while others are a bit simpler; however, any PowerPoint or Keynote game board will suffice.
Plus, the interactive quality of these downloadable and adjustable game boards allows you flexibility while the kids see some action on the projected screen. Sometimes I even have a student act as the host.
(2) Any game which allows for student choice is a winner in my book. The kids can choose categories and even the difficulty of the question. When I wanted to review mythology with my seniors, I used the following categories with question values from 100 to 500 points each: Roman God Names, Greek God Names, Monsters, Heroes, Love Myths, and The Trojan War.
Since the kids choose the categories and the difficulty level of the question, they felt like they had some control and could answer freely without embarrassment.
(3) I save the games for later use. I have between 10 and 15 different games ready to go for a few of my classes. This flexibility allows me to re-use categories or entire games. Sometimes I have classes interested in seeing what kinds of things they will study in a particular course, and I bring up one of these games and show them some of the categories, questions, and game boards. It’s a good, quick preview.
(4) I don’t have the kids truly compete with one another. Since there are 9,000 points possible on the game board, I set a class-wide score goal of 4,500 points, 5,000 points, or 6,000 points. If they reach it I provide everyone with some sort of prize.
Since we are playing as a class and I want everyone to participate, I draw a name to start the game and that student gets the first pick. After he/she picks and answers (with no help from others), I have the next student pick and we go around the room this way until all of the questions have been selected and answered. The goal is to score as many points as possible as a class.
(5) I can modify the game as I see fit.
Sometimes with my classes, especially my lower level classes, I allow them to “phone a friend” in the room for half of the points. This way a student who does not know an answer can get assistance and not have to worry about losing all of the class’ points for that question. My students have loved this option!
Also, I can provide a helpful hint if I want. Sometimes a student just needs to be nudged in the right direction, and I can make this happen.
Unlike the actual show host on Jeopardy, I can declare that students don’t lose points for wrong answers in order to lessen the anxiety. Sometimes I state that 500 point questions will not count against the class’ total score. Sometimes I don’t. It all just depends on how the kids are doing and what needs to happen to move things along without friction.
(6) I have my students keep paper and pencil handy in case they wish to write anything down for future reference. Since I generally use these games as reviews, I want the kids to learn something or be reminded of things and writing down what was once unknown is a stress-free method of having notes to study. Plus, my wording is on the screen, so the kids don’t have to guess about language or descriptions.
Overall, though, these are my basic tips and uses of the Jeopardy-style game in my classroom.
One of the strategies I have used to engage my students and to encourage academic growth is the use of games. Everyone plays games: young kids, teenagers, adults, and the elderly. Whether it’s a game of pinochle, solitaire, video games, board games, or puzzles, I’ve never anyone who didn’t game in some way.
However, we all know those a-type personalities who have to win no matter the cost and need to show off that victory every time. Thus, I have instituted some rules to game play in my classroom to ensure cooperation and maintain proper discipline in the classroom.
Firstly, any game we play has an academic purpose and focus. If I’m not using the game to learn or review course material, then I am wasting the students’ time. As much of every minute of every class should be devoted to the course (in my opinion), and I want to ensure my students have fun but learn simultaneously.
Secondly, we do not compete against one another, not really any way. Typically, I set a class goal for a score and we try to reach that goal. Or, I set a high score a previous class has earned, or I let the kids know how each class did. But, I never have the students truly competing against one another in the room. I don’t like the chance for a division in the room, and my very competitive students can lose focus. If the students do compete in groups, I still set the goal score, but I never give the top scoring group more than another group. The goal, after all, is to learn or review the material.
Thirdly, the reward is never bonus points or something that affects the students’ grades. I don’t really believe in extra credit, but allowing an activity that is essentially a practice to boost a student’s grade goes against my belief that grades should reflect mastery.
Additionally, I never want to allow the perception that one student gained while another lost in the grade category simply because of a game we played. The purpose should always be on the learning. What is the knowledge with which I want my students to exit the game? This is the focus.
Fourthly, I ask my students to keep paper and pencil at the ready in order to write down any information gleaned from the game. If the goal is to increase academic knowledge, why not let the students record what they wish to remember?
Lastly, I always have my students take 2-3 minutes at the end of the period (on a sticky note or a note card) to jot down what course content knowledge they learned during the game or what they were forced to remember. I like to know this, and I want them to process one more time. Plus, I usually ask the kids to tell me what would make the game better the next time. They normally provide some great ideas/suggestions.
If I do provide prizes, everybody gets something. Typically, the prize is a piece of hard candy or something of the sort. It’s always small and something easily shared around the room. I really like using the mixed bag of hard candy where the students get to choose; any choice seems to increase the excitement, appreciation, or engagement of my students.
Maybe this week before I leave for my conference I’ll post a few games I play with my students. No matter what though, play games and make learning fun!
We just finished our final exams this week and are ready for the summer. But, of course, a bit of finals week reflection is in order each year, and this year is no exception.
I use these tests as a way to ensure that students can’t forget the material in the class, to have the kids ponder the courses’ big ideas, and to give the students a final opportunity to show me they learned the material. For me, this reinforces the importance of the class and its application to my students. Plus, I always have a reflective question for the students which allows them to assess their own efforts and to set goals for the summer and the next school year.
My students did a great job on their finals this year; they had some of the highest final exam grades I’ve seen in some time, and almost everyone increased their grades based on the final. This felt good to see.
However, these successes were not without a few minor obstacles. During the last final exam time the students worked well despite a Jack Black film playing to their right and a Romeo and Juliet film to their left. Sometimes I momentarily wonder why I work so hard when those around me do not, but I know the students deserve to be held to high standards.
Over the last few years the administrators have started to voice whether or not we should have finals. They have seen some teachers playing kickball outside or showing movies or having yearbook signing parties during the final exam time. Instead of enforcing that a learning activity occur, the conversation has shifted to one of eliminating finals.
For those of us who actually push our kids to the end, this feels insulting. Why would the response to teachers not using all of their class time for learning result in a seeming endorsement of that notion?
Now, I have changed my finals structure because of parental and administrative pressures. I have moved more towards an objective final exam, so parents and administrators can’t pressure me to fudge a more subjective score. I used to have all essay finals, but I now have the final structured as 40% vocabulary words/literary terms, 40% literature review, and 20% essay.
Still, I don’t think that the few who refuse to give finals or do not have a structured activity should essentially set the policy for everyone else. I think this conversation really leads me to two questions:
- Why don’t the administrators enforce the policies set for the faculty?
- What is the purpose of finals?