Magazine article AMLE Magazine

All Bets On: A Cooperative Review Game

Magazine article AMLE Magazine

All Bets On: A Cooperative Review Game

Article excerpt

Students of all academic levels love review games. Why? First, they are called "games," so they must be fun. Second, they provide a chance to get "prizes": candy, extra credit, bragging rights.

Many young adolescents love the competitive nature of review games-the chance to show how awesome they are. But for others, review games are a nightmare that heightens their anxiety over their lack of speed or knowledge.

Years ago, one of my eighth grade students adamantly refused to take part in a review game. Because I had loved competitive games as a student, I could not fathom why she would not want to play. I demanded to know the reason. She refused to answer until after class when she broke down in tears, telling me how painful it was to hear the other students' taunts of "stupid" and "that was so easy" when she didn't get points for her team.

Obviously, my admonitions to the class about being supportive and kind had not halted snide comments, and this girl was bearing the brunt of it. What's more, I had not stopped to think that not all students shared my love of individual competition.

I sought the advice of other teachers, but their suggestions were to stop playing review games or to allow this girl to be my helper. The first idea removed an opportunity to provide a review that the majority of the students seemed to love; the second solution eliminated the learning opportunity for this girl, who needed a pre-test review just like everyone else.

I decided to create a new review game that would allow groups of students to work together, removing the pressure of answering individually. Small groups of students compete against other small groups, demonstrating their perceived knowledge with the amount that they are willing to wager on each question. The game incorporates discussion, reteaching within small groups by peers, interdependence, and an easy means for the teacher to assess students' knowledge.

The final version of this game evolved from student feedback, my observations, and pragmatics. My attempts to name it "One Hand, Two Hands" failed; the students quickly retitled it "The Betting Game." I have used it with a variety of students ranging from third graders to university students, but it still remains a quintessential middle school game. All my students have said it's fun, non-threatening, and useful in reviewing the material; often, students beg for "just one more round" even if the bell is about to ring.

the Betting Game

Arrange students into heterogeneous groups; no group should have all high-achieving students or all low-achieving students. Groups can range from three to five students, with four being optimal. Students move their desks into small groups so their discussions cannot be overhead by other groups.

Explain that each group gets $100 (or 100 points) to bet with. Groups must bet in whole number amounts; the smallest bet is $1 and the largest is $100. The group members must agree on the amount; if all members cannot agree, the group forfeits betting during that round.

After each group decides how much to bet, write several answer choices on the board. Each answer choice correlates to a physical motion: raise one hand, raise two hands, raise one foot, raise two feet, or stand up.

For example, a social studies teacher reviewing the Bill of Rights might write on the board:

* 1 hand-Freedom of speech

* 2 hands-No unreasonable search and seizure

* 1 foot-Freedom of the press

* 2 feet-Right to a speedy and public trial

* Stand up-End of involuntary servitude (slavery)

The teacher then asks the question, "Which of the following is not part of the Bill of Rights? …

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