Monday, September 17, 2012

Tips for Making Review Time Interesting!

When I was in school, I always dreaded the day before the test.  Not because the test itself was approaching, but because I knew I would have to sit there and complete a study guide, which was pointless when I had been studying for the test all week.  I appreciated my teacher's efforts to let me know what was going to be on the test, but regardless I still hated sitting through students asking the same questions over and over and being assigned busy work to help me review for the test.

My cooperating teacher had a lot of great ideas for review games, especially in Math.  The day before a test, I would have my students play games like "Hands Off!" and "Face Off!"  The kids enjoyed these games because they were a creative, fast paced way to practice review problems.  Rather than have my kids work on problems independently, I had them working in teams, using the blackboard (which kids love to do, really), and tackling problems that were on their level.

The school I am working in now loves technology.  There are SmartBoards in almost every classroom, and this year every staff member was given their own MacBook Pro in order to help us prepare for when every student at the high school will receive his or her own MacBook within the next 1 or 2 years.  I wanted to make the most of my 2 months here by immersing myself in technology.  The information on technology and applications and software for teachers is overwhelming, and this summer I found myself getting lost going from blog to blog as I read what other teachers were doing with the SmartBoards in their classroom.  During my search, I found this wonderful site that teachers have used to create review games for their students.  These games allow teachers to go over the necessary material, yet the students are actively involved.  You can have students work independently or in teams to solve problems and answer questions.  The games will keep track of your score, so you can reward students who did the best (on a side note, I knew a teacher that would give 10 extra credit points to the team that scored the highest during a review game.  As we know, many of these games have a large element of chance, and I would never recommend awarding points to boost a student's test grade and give them an unfair edge over others.  Being able to pick a song to listen to at the end of the day is a nice reward though).

I wanted to take the time to review these games, as I have already made one of them.  If you don't have a SmartBoard, do not fret - you can still play these games with a computer attached to a projector (just control everything from your computer).  You could also create similar games in PowerPoint.

I do have to add a small disclaimer for this site.  There's an option where you can download the game, but to do that you need to sign up for a subscription.  I registered my email address, but then it went to another page where it asked me for my credit card information.  I never put it in because I didn't want this company to have my credit card number (even though downloading the games comes with a 30 day free trial), but for a few days I had a $1 pending charge on my credit card from this company.  My credit card is fine, but if this makes you nervous, I would suggest not using this site, and certainly not giving them your email address.  Make these games on a work computer and not one with your personal information on it.  I hate that this site does this, because my students have had a wonderful time playing these review games.

Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Complete with the sound effects from the actual game show, this game allows the teacher to create multiple choice review questions.  If students have their own laptops, you can assign students to answer each question independently and see who can reach the $1 million mark first.  When I did it with my class, I had them split into groups of 4 or 5 people each.   However, because the game just keeps going from question to question (as if 1 person was playing it) I challenged each of my 5 sections to see if they could earn the most amount of money.  So, not only were they working in a small group to come up with answers to these questions, they were supporting each other on a whole class level as well.

This is a great review game for open ended questions.  This game is good for a small group setting, and you can keep other groups involved by reminding them that any wrong answers can be answered by other groups.  The game keeps track of the teams' scores so you can just worry about moderating the game.  Plus, you can create final jeopardy at the end, with each group wagering how many points they want to risk on getting the right answer.

Speed Match Quiz Game
This game would be best for independent review. I would probably use it as a center for my middle students who need some extra review, but don't need my instruction for it.  This game times students as they match terms to a question.  If you know all of your students have computers at home, I would send this review game home for homework and ask students to write down how quickly they solved the quiz.

Board Review Game
This is another game which could be used as a center for 5 or 6 students to review the material.  The thing I like most about this game is the way you can differentiate it.  Just like with the speed match quiz game, you can make three different types of games - one for your high, one for your mid, and one for your low students.  This way, students are being challenged appropriately.  You can also play this on a whole class level as well, with the class grouped into 5 or 6 teams.

This site also has a few classroom management tools as well, such as a random name generator you can use instead of popsicle sticks and a group making tool so you can quickly and easily group students for these review games or centers.  I can see myself using this site often, especially the jeopardy and who wants to be a millionaire games, to help my students master terms and definitions as well as review for any upcoming tests.  Let me know if you try these games out for yourself and tell me what you think!

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