Reflection: Checks for Understanding Battling it Out with an Epic Review Game - Section 4: Application


If you want to see students use their natural competitive drive, a review game is the way to go.  Unfortunately, some games allow student-groups to fall so hopelessly out of the possibility of winning that the group gives up.  Obviously, students that have given up lead to a classroom management nightmare.  I have made this mistake a few times myself, and in large part, English War was developed out of trying to avoid this.  Also, while I tend to be very good at planning in advance, quiz games like Jeopardy require you to have pre-ordered questions, and despite the "poking the bear" rule, students will still gripe if the $1,000 question was WAY easier than the $300 question (which happens to me when I just grab and randomly number a test with Jeopardy values!).  English War allows you to use the same board every time and requires only a list of questions (like from the test) in advance.  It also eliminates the feeling of students wanting to "check out" of the game because they feel they cannot win--with 5 prizes available, there's always hope for SOMETHING.  

My class today really enjoyed this game.  I was thrilled that they were able to (generally) tell me the answer on the first try, and while a few students did write down a few questions, most just listened and tested their memory.  I don't let them use materials (like the study guide) for review games, so I think for many students this activity can be a "gut check" to remind them that they should study.  I was absolutely mystified, however, by the way students would begin to uncover a ship, then avoid sinking any more of it.  With three groups (and a rotating turn, even if the team gets it correct), students don't want to give their peers a "leg up" on sinking it and getting the prizes, so they just avoid it and look for other prizes!  I always thought they would make sneaky alliances, but this wasn't the case.  Relatively few students got "prizes," but all students won a really helpful idea of what the test would be like!  I think students only won 5 points of extra credit or a notecard in any of my classes.  After taking the test, most students who made a notecard used it relatively little since they felt they had a really good grasp on the material just by writing up the notecard!  

This game does have one drawback, which is the inability to ask certain types of application questions (like reading a passage and summarizing it or something similar) that will be on the test.  I suppose that you could do this with the projector, but it would slow down the pace tremendously.  This limitation exists in other review games as well, though, so it's not really a total loss.  Also, not all groups will win prizes, though I'm always fairly soft-hearted and give all groups SOMETHING, even if it's not huge.  The only time I skipped doing that with this lesson was with one particular group that showed really bad sportsmanship.  Part of the Common Core is to make sure discussions are productive, fair, open, and heard, so to me, the unsportsmanlike conduct was a big enough offense to warrant omitting an unearned prize.  

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Battling it Out with an Epic Review Game

Unit 2: A Revolutionary Introduction to Argumentation & Rhetoric
Lesson 7 of 8

Objective: SWBAT review for the upcoming test by answering questions asked by both peers and myself regarding the material in the "Early Americans" and "Political Speeches"; make group decisions which further their team's position in the game by collaborating as a team.

Big Idea: A Battleship-style test review game. And no, you can’t just secretly move your ships to elude the enemy. (Don’t judge me; everyone did it.)

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english war
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