Every year for many years now there's been an odd thing on my whiteboard.

Several times I've conducted staff development in my room and no one asks about it. My kids could tell you all about it though, it might be their favorite part of the room.

It's a game. A very silly game. And for once, it's being played at max capacity with all my classes.

How does it work? Well, I like to encourage community. My kids sit at six tables (rainbow colored because those index cards are easy to find) and I set things up so that they talk to each other quite a bit. Throughout the course of a grading period they also unite through this game.

What are the rules? Ever changing.

  • try to get 50 points by the end of the six weeks
  • on the first day of the week you can win/lose points via random number generator
  • you can win points via Estimation 180 challenges
  • you can win points my making me laugh
  • you can win points by being productive
  • you can win points for being in last
  • you can win points by saying something astute
  • you can lose points for being a hater
  • you can win points by asking for them
  • you can lose points by asking for them
  • you can win points on your birthday
  • you can lose points for bad jokes
  • you can lose points for mentioning that your group is tied with another

The list goes on and on. Kids are first introduced to the game in Pre-Cal. They spend the first six weeks trying to figure out the bizarre rules. To kick the game off I'll just randomly start putting numbers into this chart. Almost immediately I'll get "what is that?" to which I reply "what is what?" and go about my business. At no point will I ever codify how the thing works, other than vaguely mentioning the end goal of 50. Often I hand out points in unfair ways. "That's not fair!" "This is rigged!" Correct.

Eventually they pick out patterns and on several occasions I've seen a hand fly over to cover the mouth of a table mate who is about to say something worthy of a points deduction. Or an entire table quickly scream "NO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!" in a similar scenario. Outside observers would be shocked by the intensity of the beginning of the week giveaway. You'd think they'd won the actually lottery.

The Calculus kids walk in and already know what's up. We also have a little discussion about not revealing the secrets of the game to the young ones. Because the young ones will start asking soon enough. You'd say that sounds silly, but it's true, every year I get reports from past students stone walling eager new players.

It's a fun little classroom management thing. I've never played it with Calculus before so it's fun to see "experienced" players having another turn.

If you're looking for a method of team building and you have the kind of personality to hand out imaginary points that don't matter for a litany of things (it's a tiny fraction of their overall grade filed under participation), I highly suggest this game. It is an endless source of entertainment.

AuthorJonathan Claydon