Confession time: I have a love-hate relationship with whole class review games that tends more towards hate. I feel that all too often you have a few strong voices or blurters who take charge and run rampant over their team. Or, the students who aren’t super into it slide under the radar too easily, content to let their excited peers play for them. I usually stick to small group games like What Do You Meme?, Quizlet Live, or El Toro. However, I’d been hearing about The Unfair Game for awhile, on various social medias, and people were raving about it, so I finally tracked down Martina’s post on how to play and decided to give it a shot! I’ll briefly explain how it works, link a few resources, and give you my thoughts.
In order to play The Unfair Game, you do have to do a little bit of prep. You need a set of questions to ask the students, set up almost like a jeopardy game board. I used Christy Clark’s template here to create my game and to make it a bit easier for me to come up with questions I decided to split up the questions into various categories. I did:
- Fill in the Blank
- Picture/Meaning (Does the word or sentence match the illustration?)
Once you’ve generated all your questions, you’re ready to play!
How to Play:
Game play is pretty simple. Divide the class into two teams. If you’d like, have them choose a team name. Then the game order goes like this:
- Question – one team chooses a question from the board.
- Answer – that team has 30 seconds to decide and answer the question in unison.
- Decide – if that team has answered correctly, they get to choose which team will receive the points.
- Points?! – using a random number generator, find out how many points that question was worth. Then add or subtract that number from the chosen team’s total.
From there, you swap teams, and start over at step one! You can play for as long as you want, as long as they’re engaged, until you’re out of questions, or until the class period ends. I told my students the winning team would be the team with the closest positive score to zero. So, for example, if one team had -1 and the other team had 2, the team with 2 points won, because they had a positive total.
This is a really short, simple overview to the game! If you would like a more in-depth walkthrough, check out this post here! I found running the game worked well having two computers going. One computer was projecting the game board and questions, while the other computer had two windows up: one with the timer to monitor how long they had to answer a question, and the other with the random number generator. This could also be accomplished by using the projector as another monitor, if you prefer that setup!
This was definitely not your typical whole class review game! The chance aspect with the random points generator really helped dial up the interest, because they had no idea who was going to win, even until the last round! I also really liked that they were required to answer in unison – and there were a few times where I made them try again if I didn’t see everyone participating, or they hadn’t reached an agreement.
I do have to admit, I had a backup plan in my pocket (you know how I love having a Plan B) just in case engagement fell flat, or it went really fast. It was very simple – I just took all of the questions from the game, and made them a worksheet! Not super interesting or engaging, but it made me feel better knowing there was an option in case behavior or interest wasn’t ideal, or the game just finished really quickly. I’m happy to report that everyone was really into it, so the backup plan turned into my absent student homework option.
Even though it was really enjoyable, for both my students and I, I have only played the game that once in class. Part of this is because there was a bit of prep involved in creating out the questions (although you could reduce that by having the students generate the questions), and the other part is that I felt I could have tweaked something about the gameplay to make it more input-based. While all of the questions were in Spanish and regarded our story we had been focusing on, I didn’t give them a copy of the story. Maybe I would have felt better about this with the story in their hands, so they could point out evidence as they re-read and answered the questions? On the other hand, we had spent quite awhile with this story, and it was interesting to see them discussing and recalling points from the story. They were quoting lines and reminding each other what happened first, and who did what. Definitely a review!
Have you played The Unfair Game before? Are you interested in giving it a try? What questions do you have about how to play?