Sunday, October 14, 2018

Using Say Whaaat!? in the Classroom

Images from DrawLab Entertainment
and used with permission
My party game Say Whaaat!? will be released this month from DrawLab Entertainment*, but I made the original version long ago. I have had years of experience playing it in different ways with students and as a classroom activity. It has proven to be a fun icebreaker or an engaging warm-up for lessons about opinions, priorities or leadership.

At the heart, this is a game about ranking random things order of importance. Words like Underwear, Justice and Coffee might turn up, for example. There are ways to do that in class that look a lot like what’s described in the rules. Others suggestions below are more innovative, like having the class imagine how Abraham Lincoln or Hester Prynne might rank the items.

Most of the ideas below are based on my experience, but some come from other educators who have enjoyed the game with their students. Instead of explaining all the rules of how to play here, I will just describe the changes to what’s written in the game rules.

Using one copy of the game for multiple groups

This could allow a class of 25 - 35 students to play in small groups using one copy of the game. Be sure they understand the ranking process before breaking into groups.

  • Divide them into groups of 6 or 8 students. 
  • Shuffle the 100 Word cards and divide that roughly evenly between the groups. 
  • There won’t be enough Ranking cards for all the students, so you could make additional sets on colored notecards. Alternatively, the students could just secretly write their rankings on paper. 
  • When playing this way, they could use the standard rules (with one Judge ranking the items and the others guessing) or the partnership variation (as long as groups have an even number of players). If playing with a Judge, the Judge should use Ranking cards from the game even if all the Guessers are just writing the words down. This makes it easier for everyone to see his or her rankings.
  • After a few rounds, groups should exchange their decks of Word cards so everyone can play with as many as possible.
  • If scoring is important, students or partnerships can just keep their points on paper. 

Everyone ranking the same Words

Sometimes it will work best for the lesson to have the class rank the same five Word cards. Here are different ways for them to do the actual ranking. Ways to select the five cards are also listed below.

Same Words, Many Groups
All students play in groups of 6 - 8 exactly like above. Any of the options and changes can be used. The only difference is the students rank the same 5 word cards that you display to the class. My friend John Golden has his students play this way as an icebreaker. He gives the judges time to explain their rankings to the others in their groups.

One Judge, Many Guessers
This is how I used the game before starting a lesson on priorities and goal setting.

  • Choose one student (or the teacher) to be the Judge.
  • The five Words are presented and all other students try to guess how the Judge will rank them. They record their guesses by listing the Words in order on paper.
  • If a score is important, the students (on their honor) can record it on paper. They get a point for each Word they had in the same place as the Judge.

Getting the Class Rankings With Digital Tools
I have used tools like Google Forms or class response systems (clickers) to let students send their rankings digitally. This is a fun way to see how the group thinks.

Different tools allow for different ways to do this. Most simply, you can just have five “questions”, each being one of the Words. A student’s answer for each question would be a number, 1 - 5. For example, if they wanted to rate Coffee as least important, they would pick 5 for that Word. Students would just have to remember not to use a number twice when choosing the numbers.

After all rankings are submitted, these tools usually display a graph that shows how each Word was ranked. After looking at the class’ responses, students can give themselves a point if they matched the majority for a Word’s ranking. For example, if “Justice” was ranked in the first (most important) position by most of the class, every student who had it as most important would get a point.

If two or more Words all tie for a position, all of those Words would count for a point, even if they also end up most in another position. That can happen, so don’t get too caught up in the details of scoring!
One fun idea for this method is to have everyone predict how some other person would rank the words. But this person doesn’t have to be in the class! They could be a historical figure or a character in a book...or maybe not even a person.

With carefully selected Words central to the lesson theme, this can result in a short reflective writing assignment. Students would have to explain their ranking and what they thought of the class’ overall ranking.

John Golden sometimes has his class rank by criteria other than importance. For example, he will have five concepts for discussion and ask them to rank them by how much they understand them. Another option is to rank them by personal preference.

Ways to Choose the Word Cards

Regardless of which of those methods you use, here are some different ways you can choose the five Word cards for each round. Most will help you more or less focus the type of thinking and discussion you want to encourage.

For any of these, you can actually draw those cards in the moment and display them under a document camera or write them on the board or screen. Or you might want to save class time by forming the lists in advance.

  • Random - Just shuffle the deck and draw five, randomly choosing one side or the other on each card.
  • Random from Subset - Choose several cards from the deck ahead of time that fit your lesson theme to form a smaller drw deck. Then when you play, draw completely randomly from that deck.
  • Semi-Random - Draw 7 - 10 cards at random, then choose which 5 you will use for the round from those.

Of course, you can also just make Pre-Arranged Lists ahead of time by selecting the exact Words you want to use. Feel free to add in words that aren’t in the game, if they’d be beneficial for your lesson or discussion.

Conversation Starters

As one last suggestion, a college professor told me he just kept the Word cards on his desk in his office. When students stopped in to talk, he would draw cards (or have a few pre-selected) to generate some conversation.

No comments:

Post a Comment