Monday, December 19, 2011

A Game of Hilarious Comparisons

It is kind of amazing to me, how little students retain sometimes. Especially when it comes to recalling that information back for a specific situation. I bring this up because as we wind down before Christmas break, I played a card game with my kids called Apples to Apples and I find myself explaining more than I feel that I should have to, to my senior students.
A Game of Hilarious Comparisons...
The game is based on green and red cards (just like apples). One player looks at a green card, which is an adjective, and shares it with the other players. The rest of the players then look at their hand of 7 red cards, which contain a noun, noun phrase or a gerund, from which they then choose which one of their red cards best matches the green card. The other players place the red cards face down for the person with the green card to pick up, read out loud, and ultimately choose which one they feel best fits the adjective. This game is hilarious as it states because everyone's opinion on what works best can vary (many times by a lot), making everyone laugh to no end.
There are some variations as to how to play the game and these can be fun after playing it a bunch of times with the same students, but for the most part each new session of the game is hilarious enough to entertain even the most shy or the most outspoken students.
Understanding...The BIGGEST Part of the Game...
The red card has clues on the bottom so that if you don't know the person, place, or thing on the card you can look down and read a small description to help you 'get it'. The problem being, many of these descriptions are meant to be puns or funny and are not always overly helpful to understand it unless you have some background knowledge.
Students are expected to have some background knowledge, and much of that knowledge comes from reading, watching TV and the news and watching movies and things like that. The issues occur when students don't remember anything they've seen or read. It is the connections that are missing and it needs to be taught, how to recall information. I am not an expert by any means but I find that using visual clues in my mind helps, as well as acronyms and talking it out. It is not against the rules in the game to see if anyone playing knows what the red card means (or how to pronounce it for that matter!), but you can't say it if that card was yours. This is where sharing becomes a help and playing becomes more like a mind-game than anything else. Those who can bluff the best do well, unless you stay silent (which works as well).
Explain, Explain, Explain....
I spend a lot of time explaining to students what the red card means when no one else is getting it. I want them to learn, so I explain it in as great of detail as I know. Many times I connect the card to something I saw or read to see if the students can also make those connections and hopefully remember the red card explanation for next time. It is stunning how much TV or technology they view or work with everyday yet tend to not retain much of the information coming from them. Maybe it is stuck in the vaults in their minds and we need to give them skills to use the right key to access the vault of information. Either way, I absolutely love this game and every time I play it, the game tends to be a learning experience folded into fun which is the best way for students! If you've never played it, I suggest you just go out and buy it - it is the most fun you'll have in a long time. I play it with my family, my students, colleagues and anyone who's willing to!
Cheers to you, my lovely readers!Have a fantastic Christmas and/or holiday season! See you in the new year!