One area that I feel does not receive enough attention by classroom teachers is the concept of formative assessments. Recently a tweet from @clifmims reminded me how I use games as a form of formative assessments. As I considered the variety of formative assessments I have used, I realized that games were where I saw students enjoying and participating the most. Any points earned in a game are for BRAGGING rights only. Below are variations of games and how I use them for formative assessments:

1. Rotating Rows is the simplest game I have used. My room is arranged in rows and the person at the front of each row is the only one who may answer the question. Peers on the team may help – but blurting out answers may help another team more than your own team. I have used this for something as simple as a 5-10 minute review at the end of class to ensure students knew the material covered that day. Points are awarded to the successful answer. Front player from ALL teams rotates to the back of the row – everyone moves up one seat and play continues.

2. Win-Lose-or-Draw (Each team selects a person who must illustrate one concept discussed that day … my choice of concept). Teams blurt out answers. I record points at the board by team.

3. Jeopardy – questions are posted at the board similar to the real Jeopardy game. I have two variations on this game.
a. Simple version – team selects one player to give answer to first question and this option rotates between players with each question. First hand up gets to answer the question first – if wrong, the second person gets to answer it … this process continues until the correct answer is given. I require students to state their answer in the form of a Question. Points are like the show (you can go up or down based on the correct or incorrect answer.)
b. Complicated version – requires individual response devices (clickers). I have used this with TurningPoint clickers. These require that I provide multiple response choices for students. Student teams get points (or lose points) based on how many members of the team answer correctly (or not).

4. Are you smarter than a 7th grader. My science department collaborates to create a set of questions for these “quizzes.” Each has 5 questions on it. Using clickers in each classroom, the questions are posed. Each question is about Science Processes and Science Skills (not specific subject matter.) Each class is a “team” and data is collected and posted in the school so everyone knows which class earned the highest percentage.
We have done a variation on this where ALL students who have science during the same period get into a classroom and do these questions against each other. Students quickly get involved and give positive feedback to everyone who gets questions correct. There is way too much noise and fun going on. At one point, we had about 100 students in the room; the doors closed, and were still told it was too loud for the class across the hall.

I have found that games have a place if they are well planned and specific to the subject. I do not believe that games should be the entire curriculum, but pedagogically I think they can reinforce material studied in the classroom.

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