By Curtis Line
I have been teaching professionally for 7 years and I’ve tried a lot of things that work and that don’t work. One activity that I started early on and continue to do to this day is my take on a Jeopardy-style review game. I know that this is nothing new and that teachers have been doing this for as long as the TV show has been running, but I must say it’s very effective and enjoyable, as well as simple (the way I do it). Students are divided into three groups and need to assign a “writer” for each question (one writer per group per question). When the question is asked, the students must decide on an answer, write it down on a piece of paper and then “buzz in” by lifting the paper into the air with vim, vigor and excitement! And yes, that’s exactly how I say it to them when explaining the rules.
The students are told that the questions are all on the test, in one form or another and that they will be given a print off of all the questions with answers (their reward for actively participating in the game). The reward for the winning team is 2 points of extra credit added to their exam. I never promise the students that we will have time to play the Jeopardy Review Game before every test that we have, that way it’s a nice surprise when we actually DO have the time. It’s a great way to get the students to remember the material; I always fit in a few words of wisdom after each question, it’s just a different way to discuss the material.
My experiences with this review game have been 99% terrific. Students always say that they love playing it and that it really helps them learn the material for the test and what they need to study and what they already know. I often put in one or two really hard questions, that way the students know that they need to know it and study it. They also have fun getting to know their classmates and it helps them be more social and active in class. I did have a student one time throw a “temper tantrum” when I called one “buzz in” a tie and gave both teams the points for the right answer; the one team was beating everyone by a lot and the “temper tantrum” student’s team was in last place. So I stopped the game (there were 2-3 questions left) and said, that team wins and we are done. I explained to the students that it is a privilege to play this game and that we would most likely not play it again.
Except for that one incident, this review has been very successful in the classroom and in helping students succeed. I have even had students at the beginning of a semester tell me that former students of mine (friends or family of theirs) have told them about the game and that they can’t wait to play it. I am hoping to update the game and play it totally electronically very soon, as I have always done it on dry erase boards. I am actually playing the game today with my noon Anatomy&Physiology I course who have an exam next class – the topic: bones!