Monday, January 12, 2015

Interactive Test Prep: Using Games to Review

Preparing for tests is rarely fun, at least from my school experience. What are some strategies you use to help your students prepare for tests, and not be bored out of their minds?

I love to use games, the most kids play the less they feel like they're learning. We all know that, but it's often hard to implement in traditional learning environments. Let's go back to the basics. What are the building blocks, or the foundations, of games used for review?

  • We have whole class, or large group games, usually involve teams and some sort of competition. 
  • Small group games of 2-5 players, maybe as many as 7 or 8. These games are typically a board game or card game. There is some goal to reach, and players usually compete to achieve the goal first. 
  • Then we have individual games, this usually includes some form of puzzle, such as a cross word, a physical puzzle, a riddle or cryptogram, or something similar. 
When planning your test prep, it's important to know which of these platforms will serve your purpose the best. Once you've identified the platform, then it's time to figure out the specifics. The options for each game platform are innumerable.  

You might find an electronic game such as an interactive PowerPoint game the entire class will enjoy. These are usually very specific in content, but you can do your homework to find editable versions, or get creative and use a template to make your own. Here's a little lesson on using macros that might help ;) Most of the electronic apps and games we use for content review are based on typical physical games, such as Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy. There are printed versions of these games as well that might be more suitable for your class/content. 

Other classroom games that have been popular for years are various races, Trivia Pursuit, Around the World, hangman (or other less gruesome versions), and so on. These are quick and easy to put into practice, because the only prep you need is your list of questions and a few simple rules on the board. 

The smaller games, board games and card games, this is my favorite. Breaking things down into smaller bits always seems to help students cement those skills and that knowledge. Working in a smaller group allows more of the students to participate, and each student usually has the opportunity to answer more frequently. I love cooperative games such as Memory, Wild (UNO), Go Fish, and Old Maid. 

Over the past 2 years, I've been building my supply of games that would help my students. SOme are just spin offs of popular games I mentioned, others, I like to think, I came up with the ideas. Although, the longer I"m around, the less I believe anyone has a truly unique idea anymore! Here are just a few of my most recent games that work well for reviewing, or building skills.

This same format is available with content for covering a unit on organisms, cells, or living systems. More are in the works that will include interdependence of life, adaptation and change, genetics, history of life on earth, and science investigations. 

I designed this for older kids who had been struggling with time for years. Because of their special learning abilities, they had never received actually teaching on telling time, elapsed time, or even the basics. This game really helped them understand what each part of the digital time represented and how that translates to words and the analog clock. 

This one was a lot of fun to make and play. My 6th graders still like to pull this one out and practice. I also made a few worksheets to go along with this. Even though I'm not a big fan of worksheets, it is nice to leave a few with my students when I won't be seeing them for a few days, just to know they'll be getting some practice in that I can assess later!

What about you? Do you have a few favorite games you like to use to review skills or concepts before a test? Feel free to add up to 3 links in the linky below, or post the concepts of the game in the comments. Thanks for stopping by!


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