This is sad and anal – there, I’ve saved you the trouble of saying it. I’d best explain.
Back in December, in the last week of term, I was trying to find something to do as a fun lesson with a cover class. Like a lot of teachers, I’m a huge fan of the TES website (Times Educational Supplement). If you join – which is free – you have access to thousands of free resources for lessons which have been produced by other teachers. What I found when I searched was a Pointless Christmas quiz – and I have to say it was absolutely brilliant. It looked professional, it had a working countdown – the lot. I was bowled over that you could do something like that on Powerpoint. So, come the first couple of days of the holiday I spent hours playing around with Powerpoint, and found out how to do everything to make my own Pointless. In fact,, I even posted about it.
Since then I’ve made starters based on several game shows – Pointless – Blockbusters – The Chase – Wipeout – Wheel of Fortune – A Question of Sport - Countdown and Only Connect. Briefly, a starter is exactly what it says. It’s a short activity – meant to last no more than a few minutes at a time, which gets pupils thinking and actively engaged in the lesson, and hopefully focuses their minds on at least one aspect of the lesson to come. Well, that’s what you aim for, anyway. I’ve uploaded all of the game/quiz show starters I’ve made onto the TES online site and being the kind of person I am, it’s made me start to ask myself some questions. Now this is where sad and anal comes into it.
I’ve been keeping a sort of mental daily straw poll into the most popular of the ones I’ve uploaded. Every day this week I’ve been checking to see how many times each game has been downloaded by other teachers. The current totals are: -
Wipeout – 402
Wheel of Fortune – 361
Pointless ( 4 presentations) 305
The Chase – 140
Countdown (2 presentations) – 86
A Question of Sport – 61
Only Connect – 13
Of course, these figures aren’t really that much of an indication how good the games are. For instance – the A Question of Sport game is actually just based on one specific book I use with my Year 8 class – second year in old money. Whereas Wipeout and Wheel of Fortune are about perennial favourites nouns-verbs – adjectives, and connectives – and are therefore of appeal not just to colleagues in the secondary sector, but also to colleagues in primary as well. Also, I only downloaded the game based On Only Connect yesterday.
As regards the punters themselves, that is the children, well I’ve used some of them this week. Yesterday the game based on Only Connect went down an absolute storm. The other one proving popular is Pointless. Allow me to give you an example. I have never before had a bottom set year 10 class ask me,
”Can we do Romeo and Juliet revision again today please Sir?”
When I replied “Of course you may, you eager young ragamuffin!” and started handing out copies of the play, this was greeted by howls of,
”Not that rubbish! We meant can we play Romeo and Juliet Revision Pointless again?!”