There are a lot of factors to consider when planning a review, including whether a game would be useful or not.
- Game, activities, or questions: It seems the most common choices are to do some sort of review game, to do some review activity that tries to both reinforce and apply, or to complete a set of review questions, like a list of terms or types or problems that may appear on the test. The benefits of games and well-designed activities is that they can engage the student, reinforcing learning rather than just reviewing for the sake of going over it one more time.
- Solo, small group, whole class: Which is going to have the biggest benefit to individual students? Especially those that need the review most. I was subjected to a great many review games that pitted the whole class against each other, with the fastest thinking (the one who raised their hand first, as determined by the teacher). I’m not the fastest thinker, especially when faced with first processing an oral question (probably my weakest modality). So, my role in those reviews, like many of my classmates, became, at best passive. At worst, well, I could hide the GameBoy under my desk and play Tetris until the bell rang.
- I advocate for smaller grouping that reduce or eliminate anyone just being a passive participant. Something should keep them paying attention and engaged. Just listening to my classmate(s) give answers was not effective or engaging.
- Another factor is how to measure engagement. Some students are content to let group mates do the work (i.e. do the review) while some students really get into the chance to work together and discuss (great for those interpersonal intelligence students). Do you give everyone a job, like recording answers or monitor informally or let them make their choices?
- Cooperative or competitive: this may actually change with your class make up. I’ve had some classes where several highly competitive students were willing to learn ANYTHING for our bi-weekly review games, just to win. I’ve had other classes that just didn’t like competing and either wanted to help each other or gave up because they didn’t like the “pressure.” (And this is without pressure of fastest being first.)
- Modalities/ Intelligences: Are you being fair to students who learn or process differently? As noted above, I was subjected to a lot of speed-based review games that relied on the teacher reading a question outloud. Can you display the questions so visual learners have a better chance? Work in groups for interpersonal intelligences? Remove ‘speed’ for those that can get the right answer, but more slowly?
A good review, that fits with the classroom and covers the concepts effectively and engagingly can be a great help to students. What’s your favorite and least favorite ways or games for review?
Clair Dickson, high school English teacher, likes free eTexts and Project Based Learning to stretch her meager budget. Visit her store High School English on a Shoestring Budget to stretch your budget.