Review Game Review

As this (hopefully last for awhile) digital year comes to an end I felt it would be useful to take a look at some of the ever-growing-pile of review games that are out there. Things have certainly changed since I first played PowerPoint Jeopardy with my students 20 years ago. Let's take a look at what makes a good review game and hopefully I'll show you a few ones you can try!

PowerPoint Games

(Download and play offline through PowerPoint. NOT GOOGLE SLIDES. DON'T TRY. THEY WON'T WORK CORRECTLY.)

Jeopardy - This was my first review game. My students played it a ton my first couple years as I knew they loved it and I was certainly still learning how to make non-game activities enjoyable. I've learned a lot about how to best run the game with a class over the years. I break students into groups of 4-6. Students must write their answer down and then hold their paper up in the air so I know they aren't still writing. When an entire group has their papers up I call on one member (often with an arbitrary criteria like "had the most recent birthday") to bring their answer up to me. If they get it right I give them double points. The other groups can still answer the question by sending up a representative and early the usual point value for the question. This method of play ensures all groups and all individuals are playing along with the game. I record their scores on simple table I create on a piece of paper. I share their scores a few times throughout the game.I eliminated Jeopardy from the play rotation for awhile as I created new games and especially when Kahoot came around but I've brought it back and students absolutely still love it. It requires some set up work ahead of time to ensure you've put the questions on the proper slide but overall it is an easy set up and is probably the review game that does the best job of teaching the content.

Who Wants To Be a Millionaire - Another early game but one that I've not played in many years. This template supports up to 15 questions. When we play I put a single chair in the front of the room as the hot seat. I start by asking a question orally that is not one of the 15 from the presentation. A chosen student who answers correctly takes the hot seat. They try to answer 3 questions in a row. They may use any one LifeLine in that time. If they miss a question, a volunteer gets a shot and if they get it right, they take the hot seat. Any player who gets 3 in a row while in the seat gets a reward, usually a piece of candy but class XP/Gold would work fine as well. The main issue with the game is its focus on a single player at a time. While the audience is somewhat engaged with the chance to take the hot seat or help with a Lifeline, it isn't much overall. Still, the game is quick to play and easy to set up. Still, like I said, I've retired it, mostly in favor of Dig!

Dig! - This game is based on the classic Nickelodeon show Figure it Out. Students answer questions to reveal pieces of a rebus puzzle which they try to solve. I've given it an archaeology theme so they are choosing plots of land to "dig" which reveal the puzzle. The game has 15 questions. When a student answers correctly they choose which of the 15 plots to dig. They then get to take a guess at the puzzle. Having the puzzle keeps everyone involved, even if they are not actively answering a question. Though the game has only one winner I've had no problems keeping students' attention. The only real hang up is that most students are not familiar with rebus puzzles. If you do a couple with them before the game it can help with that. I don't. I like to see them struggle to figure it out! The game plays quickly and the only set up challenge is creating the puzzle. The theme really helps add to it and students love it. We even played this one a few times over Google Meet with students putting an exclamation point in chat to show raising their hand to answer a question and it worked really well.

The Random Game - This plays out a bit like the board game Cranium where players complete multiple tasks, not just answering questions. It has drawing challenges, acting challenges and more. It also isn't actually random, though it appears to be to students. The set up is fairly simple but requires an additional step that isn't entirely obvious. You will need to create cards with the clues to the drawing and acting challenges. You can't just put the term on the screen as everyone will see it and if you put them on a printed list then the active player may see future clues as well. I just write the terms on index cards and order the stack the way I want them to come up in the game. Most challenges in the game are "all plays" like with Jeopardy. I do not do these as a race though. I just award groups a point for being correct. Bonus challenges (like acting) are played only by the team who has them come up on the randomizer. I keep track of turn order by having groups send up a representative to operate the randomizer - which means they click on the computer to start it and again to stop it. Again, it isn't actually random, but it appears so. That way, if a single-team bonus question comes up I know which question will play it. You could also just roll a dice when they come up if you want to remove the randomizer step. Questions are answered, terms are drawn, points are earned and fun is had. Great game that I am excited to get back to playing since I really couldn't figure out how to do it digitally.

Deal or No Deal - My go-to game both digitally and in-person as it requires no set up. The game is played as a class so the reward system only really works if you have a class point or currency system. Without that you'll need to come up with various rewards you are willing to provide to each student in the class. It is much easier to just reward them with class points (not ones that affect grades.) You load up one of the pre-made files (each has the point values in the cases shuffled around) and start asking questions orally. If a student answers one correctly they choose a case to open. The revealed point value is removed (so seeing low numbers in cases is the best). A few times during the game I improv a fake phone call from the banker who makes a point offer to end the game at that point. Middle Schoolers NEVER take the offer. I have fun with the phone calls often implying that the banker is insulting the players and their skills. Have fun with it! The game ends when the last case is remaining or they vote to take the banker's offer. Easy, fun and infinitely replayable.

Digital Games

Kahoot - Most everyone knows about Kahoot by now. It was among the first of its kind. Teachers create questions, students answer on their own devices, scores are tracked, fun is had. It's good, it works and it is fairly easy to set up. However, it is rather simplistic. They have added some new question types (though they are trapped behind a paywall) which have added some variation but it is still pretty much just multiple choice, spit out the answer questions. I honestly don't think much learning (or even review) happens and when every teacher is using it the novelty quickly wears off. I'm not against Kahoot, I just think we need to limit how much we use it...

Gimkit - Especially since Gimkit exists. Gimkit takes everything from Kahoot and makes it better. Gimkit has multiple play modes ranging from teams versus a boss (which is usually me) to an Among Us style "find the imposter" mode. It even recently added a drawing mode. New modes are coming all the time. Even in its normal mode Gimkit adds to the experience by offering power ups like point multipliers and fun attacks on other players which do things like blur their screen or freeze them entirely. Also unlike Kahoot, the game is paced for each individual player. Since questions are randomized and not presented all at the same time, there is no time limit on a question. Your slower students will not feel rushed to just jam an answer without thinking them through. Additionally, questions often repeat in the game so there is a huge incentive to learn the right answer, even if you miss it the first time. That just doesn't exist in Kahoot. The game's main weakness is that it requires a premium subscription ($60 annually) to play full class live games. You can assign them in student-paced mode for free but playing together requires the fee. It's well worth it. This is currently the best review game out there.

Blooket - This is the new kid on the block and grew very quickly in popularity during distance learning. Also, I hate it. It is Gimkit without the clever power ups. Worse, it is Gimkit with power ups that actively make the game worse. For example, there is one power up where a player can switch their point totals with any player in the game. I quickly learned that I was incentivized to just not play until there were two minutes left in the game. If I could lose my points at any time and just as easily take the leader's points at any time - why play at all? Similarly, sometimes when you click to get a power up you instead randomly lose half your points. Again, why play at all? It is new so hopefully these kinks will be worked out but, even if they are, I honestly don't see a reason to play this over Gimkit.

Review games are a great way to add some Commandment 9 (For every ounce of treatment, add a ton of treat!) to your classroom. Hopefully this inspired you to try some new ones or at least reminded you how great they can be! Read more about how I use these games in Chapter 9 of Teach with Magic!

<< Previous Post: The 2021 Kevie Awards