I love playing games. My husband and I enjoy everything from Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble to more esoteric resource and strategy games like Seven Wonders and Game of Thrones.
I bring a lot of games into my classroom. I’ve written about some of them here. I love it when classes can learn and review that way because it truly is fun.
But I, like many of you, I’m sure, spend August through May embedded in the trenches of the secondary classroom. From that perspective, what works always trumps the ideal. There are some classes that don’t handle games very well. We’ve all been there.
Right? (Please tell me that it’s not just me). Does any of this sound familiar?
– Student A attacks student B for missing an answer.
– Student C tells Student D to “Shut the *@## up!” because you said the game would have to stop if they couldn’t play nice.
– Student F refuses to play because he doesn’t care.
– Student G refuses to play because she’s afraid of looking stupid.
|This is what it looks like.|
There are multiple reasons games may not work. So how do you provide effective and engaging review without engaging in competition for students who just can’t seem to handle it?
One strategy that I’ve found useful is to have the students create their own test using their unit materials.
Remember way back when we were students? Our teachers had no idea what study guides were. A strategy some of us would use to try to guess what might show up on that elusive entity called “the test” was to create our own test. That always worked very well for me.
|How I got to school….|
I don’t see many of my students doing this on their own at my suggestion, so sometimes, I devote class time for it.
I’ll divide the class into small groups of two or three, divide the unit into chunks (if it’s a big unit), and make each group responsible for test questions for their section.
I give them a template that they can write their questions on so that there is no mistake about what I expect, and an answer key template for the same reason. They label their test and answer key–“Test 1,” “Test 2,” “Test 3,” etc…. I find that students will take as long on a task as you give them, so I limit them to around 30 minutes to create their tests.
|Get the template for free HERE|
The next day, I set up as many stations around the room as I have tests. The students rotate in their groups, answering the questions on an answer sheet provided at each station. They may collaborate on answers in their small groups (Here’s how that works). They should put their answer sheets in a folder at the station when they finish and rotate to the next station.
When everybody’s finished, the group that created each test will take the folder of answer sheets from their station and use their key to grade them. Then each group should go over the answers with the class.
I even pull a question or two from each group test to use on our unit test–the students love seeing their questions validated in that way.
Roll with the punches and keep heart. The students are watching. 🙂
How do you review without competition? Leave a comment below to let me know!