One of my favorite things to do is to use board games or other popular games for test prep or review. I have found that my students respond better and are more engaged with test prep games involving popular games they love to play.
In this post, I will share how I use any game for a test prep game or review for a large unit assessment. I will also share the strategies I use to hold my students accountable and working hard while they are playing the games.
Using Games for Test Prep
Here are the steps I follow:
- I group my students into groups of about 4 students each, if possible. With larger classes, you do need to have larger groups or more groups.
- Allow my students to choose a game or assign a game to each group.
- Clearly explain the expectations to my students (more about that in a minute).
- Give my groups their assigned work and go over the quality and quantity of work expectations (varies based on the assignment).
- Circulate while the groups are working to offer assistance, check answers, and give permission to play the game.
For any of the games, the students have to 1) Answer the question in a complete sentence. 2) Explain how they knew their answer is correct.
Then, they raise their hand when they were ready to be checked. (If I am busy with another group, they know to start the next question while they wait). To check their answers/work, I randomly choose a group member to answer and explain. I ask follow up questions as needed.
By choosing a random student, this helps keep them all accountable. If that student’s work makes no sense, is inaccurate, or they cannot prove it, I remind them to work as a team and let me know when they are ready for me to check again and then I usually walk away to check another group. If I see that the group is genuinely struggling, I will stay and provide support, but 9 times out of 10, they don’t need my help.
After they have been checked off and their work is correct, each member of the group takes one turn at whatever game they were playing. Then they continue to the next question.
Alternative Way to Play:
Here is another option for playing the game that I have also used in the past. I typically use these directions if the students are playing in centers (more about that option in a minute)or if the questions are not as time consuming or rigorous to answer:
1. Take turns selecting a question to answer.
2. Each person in the group must answer the question and record the answer.
3. The person whose turn it is must prove his or her answer is correct to the other members of the group.
4. If the answer is proven correct, the person whose turn it is may take a turn at the game.
5. Repeat steps 1-4 with another member of the team.
The only difference between this way and the other directions is that this way is more independent and only one person is taking a turn at the game at a time. Ultimately, I let the game we are playing and the type of review questions guide which directions I use. The directions for this version is on page 2 of the free download (click here to grab it if you missed it linked above).
When a team receives a penalty, they must answer two questions and get both checked off before they can take their next turn. Here are the reasons a group would get a penalty:
- Copying from another group
- Being too loud or distracting to other groups
- Not focusing on the work
To be honest, giving a penalty rarely happens because the students are eager to take their turn at the game. Not only do they not want to risk having to answer two questions to take a turn, but they are usually always hyper-focused on answering their one question and have no time to misbehave.
The biggest problem that I have had playing test prep games this way is not all students knowing or trying, specifically at the beginning of the year. By the middle and end of the year, they have learned my expectations and this behavior is pretty much non-existent. In the meantime, choosing a random student to check and ask any follow-up questions takes care of this.
Click here to grab the printable that explains the penalties. The penalties and explanation are on page 3 of the download.
Using Games for Test Prep Centers
With very large classes, this can be difficult to manage in a whole group setting without another teacher for support (ESS, ESOL, etc). Another option is to have this as a center. If you decide to do this, I recommend having a “group leader” to ensure the expectations are met and then another student as the “answer checker” ensuring that the answers are correct before each student takes a turn.
If you choose to do this as a test prep center, I do recommend going through it at least once whole class to set the expectations for behavior and quality of work.
Favorite Games to Use as Test Prep Games
Here are some of my favorite high interest games to use as test prep.
Hint: Ask your gym teacher if he or she has any games the students particularly love and see if you can incorporate those in your classroom using the ideas in this post.
Recommended Subjects or Skills
I recommend using these types of games with rigorous skills such as reading or multi-step constructed response math questions. Here is why:
- These skills are not typically easily adapted into popular games.
- These are skills that require a bit more motivation from the students.
- These skills take 3-5 minutes or more to complete so the students are doing plenty of work to get the right to play the game. This also gives you time in between to monitor and assist.
If you are looking for reading questions to use with games, I recommend my reading review task cards. Each task card has a text and two text-dependent questions. And the best is that each reading common core standard has two texts for extra practice. Click below to see this resource for the grade level you teach:
These task cards (can also be printed as a printable booklet) are my go-to resources to use with games for test prep.
What do you think about using popular games as test prep games? Is this something you do already? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!