Gamification is a long, funny sounding word that in the end just means you make a game out of something, and it works, oh baby does it work! It has been proven time and time again in my classroom over the years that making a competition out of anything instantly raises engagement. Now, I am not saying that everything needs to be a competition, but variety is the spice of life after all! Also, don’t feel the need to make everything a competition amongst students, but instead give them the opportunity to top their own personal best! This is where the real magic happens.
Are you on board with gamifying test prep? Great! Here are my absolute tried and true ways to make a less than appealing task gain instant engagement. I have broken them down into categories of no prep, a little prep, and a whole lot of prep (but totally worth it!)
No Prep Games
Test Prep Biathlon
Low Prep Games
The rules are so simple, you answer questions in teams using the Numbered Heads Together structure. Any and all teams whose answers are correct then choose a sticky note from the Stinky Feet poster. Each sticky note has a point value on it, but this is where the game gets a little stinky. Some sticky notes have positive points, and some have negative.
Continue to play the game until you run out of time, sticky notes, or questions. As you go, each team keeps a running tally of how many points they have. I like to have this tally on the board and have each team update it after each turn. That way, I can keep an eye on it and there is no funny business. Plus, I have students immediately put the sticky notes above the poster so that I can reuse them and they don’t get torn up as they tend to do when they take them to their seats.
In the end, the team with the most points wins! Sometimes I like to switch it up and have the team with the least points win. If I do this, I add extra negative points stickies to the post so that it is seen as a reward for answering correctly, not missing a question.
Basically, once you make the poster, this game also becomes no prep aside from cutting up question.
You can read more about Stinky Feet here.
This is another low prep game that breaks up the monotony of doing a worksheet while still essentially doing a worksheet. Your prep here is to cut apart the questions and hang them around the room. I like to hide them just a little bit so students truly have to search.
Students then travel around the room looking for questions to answer. I give them each a clipboard and their response sheet and they go to town. Depending on how many questions there are I will put limitations on how many students can be working on the same question at a time.
This game is great if you are also pulling a group, or doing something at the same time because your whole class does not have to participate and it tends to be a bit quieter than many others.
This one is also exceedingly low prep in that you cut the questions apart and fold them up before sticking them in some sort of container. I usually use an empty manipulative container, but it could be a bowl, or jar, or just about anything else that will hold them.
Each student then draws a question and answers it. They check in with me and then draw another question. This process continues until time is up or all the questions are gone.
A couple of variations of this game would be to place a container on each table and have the table groups work together to answer the question. Another is to have students return their question to the container after answering it.
I love this one because students can work at their own pace and won’t feel discouraged if they are taking longer than heir teammates on a question because no one knows who has what question and how difficult it is.
A Whole Lot of Prep (But Totally Worth It!)
What Am I Missing?
Structured Test Prep
Stinky Feet Directions
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