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Three Reasons Why Your Science Review Games Might Not Be Effective

I used to play classroom Jeopardy as a science review game before I realized I was doing it all wrong.

I want to share with you three truths about why my science review games needed a complete overhaul. More importantly, I’ll give you some suggestions on how to improve your students’ participation and ultimately improve their test scores.

I uncovered these three things after reflecting on why my students weren’t performing well on their tests.

  1. The limitations of the game didn’t allow every student to participate.
  2. Some of the students still weren’t comfortable with the content and they needed more guidance.
  3. The stakes were too high or too competitive.

Do any of these sound familiar?


Every Student Participates

Jeopardy is a game where only one person in the class gets to answer the question about a particular topic. What do you think happens to the other 29 students when I call on one person to answer? You guessed it. They are let off the hook and can tune out any response or explanation that proceeds. After reflecting on it, I changed the game so that every student was playing simultaneously on their own answer sheet (free template here). By playing games that encourage every student to engage with each question, you’re allowing more students to have skin in the game and holding them accountable at the same time.

Focus on Students Who Need the Most Help

Not every student is going to be prepared for a review game and may need to work in a small group setting to clarify misinformation. When I was in front of the class being the game-master, it took me away from those students who needed me the most. They were totally checked out and received little to no benefit from the review session. I quickly realized games should be student-led so that I could focus my energy on working with small groups.

Remove the High Stakes

I love competition, but many students don’t. In fact, some students will do everything in their power to avoid the embarrassment of losing or making mistakes in front of their class. Not every review game has to be a competition with only one winner. Escape room reviews are one way you can allow students to compete as a small team against a challenge. Instead of the smartest kid in the class winning every game, now everyone has an equal opportunity of meeting the objective.

It only took a few small tweaks to my review sessions to make a huge improvement in how effective they were in my classes.

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