Monday, April 20, 2009

Book Review: Games that Teach

Title: Games that Teach: Experiential Activities for Reinforcing Training

Author: Steve Sugar

Publisher: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer (1998)

I was helping a student find some books on training last week and this book showed up in our catalog. Of course I couldn't resist, and I'm so happy I found it so serendipitously in our own collection! This will greatly help me move into purely real-world games. The majority of the book is a set of instructions for 26 activities that can usually be scored to move it beyond "activities" into the realm of "games."

In the introductory sections of the book, the foreword author talks about how much modern trainers are using games to reinforce training. Effective training games must be relevant, flexible, and have the optimum balance of chance and skill. Too much chance makes the game pointless, and too much skill "reduces the game to an anxiety-provoking test."

Because so much rests on the audience's reaction, every time you play a game, even with the exact same content, the game will be different.

Most of the games involve being asked trivia questions with either some non-educational event before or after to add to the fun of scoring.

Game 1: Best Shot
Set up a target and give each team a laser pen. Set up a shooting line. Have each team shoot towards the target, the one who is closest gets asked a question. If they are right, they get two points, if wrong, they lose two points. Another version is #13: Hoops, where two baskets are set up on near and far ends of a table. Correct answers are worth 1 point if player misses basket, 2 points in near basket, 3 for the far basket. Incorrect answers are always worth 0 points. A version of that is #7: Deadlines, where each team will estimate how many questions they will get right on a given topic. If they get at least that many, their final score will be the estimated number squared, if not, each correct answer is worth two points.

Game 2: Beyond Tic-Tac-Toe
Two teams take turns answering questions. Right answers let them chose a square. They can occupy the same square. At the end of the game, each team tallies up how many three-in-a-rows they have. Highest scoring team wins.

Game 3: Bumper Stickers
Give each team slips of paper and markers and have them come up with a slogan or bumper sticker based on what you just learned. Can vote on best if desired.

Game 4: By the Numbers
Give each team of 6 players a die and each player is assigned a number. For each question, have the team roll to see who will answer. The team with the most points at the end wins. This ensures the whole team is participating in answering questions. A similar game is #6: Conversations, where players or teams write their answers on the top half of a piece of paper, then put their names on the bottom half and turn that into the front. Leader draws these out and calls on that person or team to read their answer to the group.

Game 5: Classify
Read or provide statements that must be categorized. Put up at the front of the room. Reward team with the most correct answers. This game could be of use when we talk about popular and scholarly journals.

Game 8: Deep Six
Teams roll die, then answer question. Each correct answer earns the number of points shown on the die. When a six is rolled, team answers one last question and is done. Only a six loses points if they answer wrong. Set a time limit, like 3 minutes. Another version if this is #10: Gauntlet, where each team has a score sheet numbered 1-12, and rolls a pair of dice. They can choose to cross of the whole score or each number shown on the dice. If they get the answer right, they win that many points. Play continues until one team cannot complete their turn.

Game 9: Find Points
Have players find information in reading based on clues, some clues will be worth more points than others.

Game 10: Got a Minute?
Introduce four rules of brainstorming:
  1. Don't critique others' ideas
  2. Build on others' ideas
  3. Go for the greatest number of ideas
  4. Do get outrageous, it's easier to tone down than create anew

Leader reads prompt at front of room, team has 60 seconds to come up with as many ways to answer statement as possible. Results are compared, one point for duplicate items, five for unique items. Continue for the desired number of rounds.

Game 12: Headlines
Give teams a brief headline, then give them 10 minutes to write a story for that headline. They can use all available resources.

The second half of the games will appear here shortly, but I recommend getting the book for the additional instructions, game sheets and score sheets.

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