Sunday, March 18, 2012

Critical Thinking Game for the Classroom

I know this game has been referred to throughout this blog, but I wanted to centralize some of the resources  for both high tech and no-tech variations are described below.

Years ago I made a game that I used in the classroom for lessons about goals and priorities.  If used properly,  it can be an excellent starting point for critical thinking and other higher level thinking skills in any subject area with any students from about age 10 and older.  

I have played it with many students from middle school through college (here is a video I made with some former students at one campus) over the years and I have come to respect the power of the question that it raises.  Whether it is used as a game or a classroom activity, participants are simply asked the question What matters most?  By carefully choosing the items and guiding the discussion, this can be a powerful catalyst for self-evaluation and problem solving.

Using the game without technology
The game I created can be purchased as a traditional (card based) party game.  This is the version I used most in class. I would use a select subset of the cards based on the purpose of the activity. From that, I’d randomly draw five cards and have students rank the items on the cards from most important to least important.  We would usually try to guess how another person in the room would rank them.

After such an introduction, students can play the game in groups of up to 8.  It works best when students can play in pairs.

The Inexpensive Option - Right now a friend of mine is selling the old edition of the complete game (called What's It To Ya?) for less than $4.  I no longer get royalties from that edition, so this announcement is not meant to pad my wallet!  If you want to pick up a few copies (5 copies would allow up to 40 students play), check it out on this page at Fair Play Games while it’s on sale. This is a bargain, believe me.

The Newer Edition - If you want the newer version, it’s probably easiest to find it here on Amazon.  The new publisher created a version that uses a board and score sheets.  It sells for around $20.

Here's a video overview created with the Videolicious app on an iPad.

Using the game with technology

I posted several free activities on Promethean Planet based on this game.  They work easily with Promethean’s ActivExpressions for ranking, but you can run the activity with any response system or the students can rank them on paper.  A free version of ActivInspire will allow you to display these without actually using their other products, so any computer and projector will be sufficient.

Here is the original, generic activity that allows students to draw random words for the original game.

Oh Really Flipchart Activity

And the versions below are targeted toward a specific subject area with pre-selected sets of words and questions in context.  By examining these as samples it will be obvious how you can adapt them to your needs even if these don’t fit perfectly.

Family and Consumer Science
Vocations and GoalsDebate
Christian/Bible Studies

The version with the most downloads so far is this "Back to School" edition. It can be used as an ice breaker in the first days of school or of a particular class:

Back to School

And finally, here is a simple Google Presentation version that you could change to use the activity in any subject.  You can put the question of what matters most into context, such as What makes a good citizen? Then list items related to that. Or you can keep it general. See the above flipchart activities for ideas. (Even if you don't want to install the free version of ActivInspire to view them you can see a preview at the site that will be useful in adapting the free Google Presentation version to your needs.)  

And if anyone is interested in the history of the game, here is a video I created a few weeks ago about my experience with bringing a game idea into reality.

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