Fellow teachers of undergraduates, how often to you face this question on the first day of the semester? Am I better off…
- …spending the entire first class session reading the syllabus to your students with great gravity and conviction in the misguided hope that they will pay some minimal level of attention to the information therein?
- …handing them a copy of the syllabus without further ado knowing nothing you say/do will make any difference anyway, then brace for a semester of conflict?
I have tried option A with the results more experienced teachers might expect (i.e. a wasted class period and bored students) and had been planning to go with Option B next time I teach. However, a more experienced colleague mentioned that she had given her students a syllabus quiz on the first day that seemed to force students to review and ask questions about course content and policies. My best teaching buddy, Chris Sutter and I talked about this idea and thought “Hey, why not do a syllabus game instead?” We are both planning to try it in our courses this coming Fall using a Jeopardy-style game (with a shameless Skinnerian infusion of candy to keep things moving along.)
I developed a basic, easily customizable powerpoint template to run this game in the classroom. I think it’s a little better than the other templates/apps I’ve seen via Google. More importantly, I designed it to be both visually attractive AND universally compatible with all versions of PowerPoint on all platforms (Chris and I use different operating systems and a shared classroom computer for presentations so we didn’t want to have any issues with missing fonts or the like.)
Turns out, the template I made was only a few tweaks and a page of documentation away from being useful for pretty much anyone wanting to build and run a trivia game on any topic. So, I’ve decided to push it out on ye olde interwebs for anyone to download and use as they see fit.
You can grab a copy at: www.michaelconger.com/download/triviagame
If you end up using/improving this, drop me a line (via twitter, facebook, email, whathaveyou) and tell me about it.