It has been quite a while since the last tech-break, so I think it is time for another one. While teaching in Japan, I learned how to play a version of Jeopardy with students and then adapted this activity from that. I usually refer to it as the “review game” or “quiz game,” because it is a great way to review materials as a class before a major exam. Let me explain the prep, execution, and some possible variations.
Honestly, creating the teacher’s sheet for this activity can take quite a bit of prep time, but it is well worth it and requires very few materials besides this. I usually make a table in Excel or Word to keep everything organized. Just as a note, students will never see this sheet, but having it as reference will help you facilitate the activity in class. Here’s what you do.
First, choose about five categories; they should reflect whatever you have been doing in class. I put them along the top of my table with a column for each. One version that I made for students in Japan had Words, English to Japanese, Japanese to English, Combine, and Finish the Sentence as the categories. Students had to give a definition of the word for the first column, do translations for the second and third columns, use a relative pronoun to combine two short sentences for the fourth, and make a complete sentence for the provided prompt for the last column. That is just one example, though, and there have been many variations of this for the different courses, levels, and students I have taught. Here is what my teacher sheet looked like for a similar class in China:
Then assign points for each question or task. There are a number of ways you can do this. If you have five categories with five questions or tasks each, you might choose to have all 25 worth one point each. Alternatively, categories could be scored differently. In the example above, I gave the student or group just one point for giving the definition of a word but five points for completing the sentence in the fifth column. You might also assign points by row, so, for example, the first word in the first column might be easy to define and be worth just one point while the word in the fifth row might be really challenging and worth five points. This is entirely up to you.
Finally, create all the questions or tasks. This is the time intensive part because you need to sort through all the content you want students to review and organize it into categories. Doing this, you might need to revise your original categories or points, too. Vocabulary is typically the easiest section to create, so start there. If the primary focus on the assessment is on vocabulary, you might have multiple vocabulary columns where students have to give the parts of speech, define, or make a sentence with the word that is given.
Playing the Game
Once your teacher’s sheet is all made up, you are ready to go. No copies need to be made or anything. In class, divide students into four or more groups. While they are organizing themselves, write the categories on the board and draw stars or circles to represent each question or task. Choose the first question or task and the first group to answer receives the point(s) and gets to choose the next category.
As you go, tally points on the board and erase the stars to show what categories can still be chosen and how much of the activity remains. The game ends when all the tasks or questions are gone and the team with the most points wins. You may want to consider giving a small incentive to the winning team.
This activity works really well as described above with different levels and ages, but there are many ways it could be adapted, so here are just a few variations to consider.
- In small classes, students could play in pairs or even individually. In large classes, groups of no more than about five seem to work the best.
- Alter the number of categories to increase or decrease the amount of class time allotted to this. The example above with 25 questions or tasks could easily take 45 minutes in a lower-level class.
- Instead of a review, consider trying this at the beginning of a unit to introduce a new topic to see what students already know about it and to activate prior knowledge.
Play around with the format and timing of the activity to find the best solution for your class.
If you have heard of this activity, please feel free to let us know the name of it by leaving a comment below. If anything is unclear or you have questions, please do the same and I will be sure to respond.