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Review Games Students Love

Hey Teach,

When it comes to tests, many students (and teachers) fear the very thought of “review packets.” When it comes to reviewing for the big test, or a small one, worksheets and other papers just don’t seem to cut it.  Many students have reported that they get more out of engaging reviews.  A way that allows them to interact with the material and their peers.  

Remember the term “scaffolding” from college?  A review should facilitate scaffolding by allowing students to build on their current knowledge.  For students that have fallen behind or missed a few days, reviews should provide them the opportunity to fill in their gaps.  And for students that are more advanced, it should promote retention and encourage independent study to further their understanding.

A great way to check all these boxes and help mitigate test anxiety is games!  Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I am a bit biased when it comes to this topic.  I am a huge nerd, shocking, I know.  I love games of all kinds.  In fact, recently, I spent my birthday playing board games.  Last year, we had a virtual game night for my birthday too.  It’s becoming a bit of a tradition. 

In this video, the presenter gives us several games we can play in the classroom to help students review content.  These games should be age-appropriate for all grade levels but may need some modification.  You know your class best, so you can use your judgment.  Plus, a huge bonus is all these games are low prep.  The last thing you need right now is MORE to do.  Let’s take a closer look at each game.

Trashketball

The basic premise is, answer a question, get a point, and have the opportunity to shoot a basket to earn more points.  Students can be divided into however many teams that work for your class.  The basket is a trash can (hence TRASH—ketball) and the ball can be an actual ball or a crumpled-up piece of paper.  Each team is asked the same question (you can take these questions from the review packet you would normally hand out.)  If the team gets it right they get a point and a student can attempt a basket for more points.  

Sink or Swim

This fast-paced game works best with closed questions, i.e. yes or no, true or false, multiple-choice, etc. Again, the class is divided into teams as you see fit.  Everyone stands up as long as they are in the game.  Questions are asked alternating teams.  If a student gets a question wrong they sit down(sink).  If a student gets it right, however, they can choose to sink or swim.  They can sink a player on the other team, knocking them out of the game, or swim one of their previously sunk teammates, putting them back in the game.  The winning team is the last team standing or the team with the most players standing at the end of the game.  This game is not recommended for classes with a history of bullying, as it can get personal with students choosing who to sink or swim.  On the other hand, it can be great for classes that have 1 or 2 advanced students that tend to “steal the show” by giving other kids a chance.  Remember you, as the teacher, set the tone for this game.

Grudgeball

Again, start by splitting the class into teams.  Each team starts with 10 ‘X’s on the board (or somewhere visible to the whole class).  The team with the most ‘X’s at the end of the game wins.  Like Sink or Swim, when a team answers correctly, they can erase an ‘X’ from another team and shoot a basket (like in Trashketball) to remove more ‘X’s.  If you choose, you can have 2 shooting lines, one closer to remove 1 ‘X’ and another further away to remove 2 ‘X’s.  The ‘X’s can be removed all from 1 team or spread around.  If a team does not answer correctly, they lose an ‘X’. If a team is eliminated by having no ‘X’s left, they can still participate and even have a chance to get back into the game.  If an eliminated team answers correctly and makes a basket (from the harder spot if you give that option) they can rejoin the game with 5 ‘X’s. This may be a better alternative than Sink or Swim for class dynamics, as it is not personal (the whole team loses an ‘X’ rather than sinking an individual), while still being competitive.

Jenga Trivia

This one does require some planning.  You’ll need colored Jenga blocks (from amazon or painted yourself).  I personally love using cut and painted 2x4s if you want to take the time to make a set, the dramatic fall is just so fun.  You can divide the class into teams and either give each team a set of blocks to play amongst themselves or play as a class where the team sends up a player to remove a block.  You need colored blocks so you can divide your questions into categories.  Players roll (or spin or whatever you have handy) to pick a color/category.  If they get it right, they attempt to pull a block.  Like normal Jenga, you don’t want to be the person to knock the tower over. 

Kahoot!

If you are not familiar with Kahoot!, allow me to introduce you to students’ favorite game.  When Covid first hit and schools were all online, my 16 year old spent so much time playing this game and laughing with friends even after school was over.  They loved making games for each other too.  To play this in the classroom, you can split into teams or play as individuals.  Each team or individual will need a device connected to the internet as this is an online game.  You can create a custom game or use one of the millions of premade games.  I would even suggest you have teams/students create their own game as part of the review process itself.  You can assign topics or parts of a chapter and have the students create their own questions.  I would review these student-submitted games before playing them as a class.  This is a super engaging and fun way to review.

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What do you think?

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