This game, designed as a whole-class activity managed by you via a whiteboard, is arguably more like Blockbusters than Connect Four. All students really enjoy playing it, so it’s a great way of consolidating knowledge. This template was created by Matthew Kennard and posted on the TES website some years ago, but it has certainly stood the test of time. It runs through Excel and is very simple to use. As with most things, it does take a while to set up, but once this has been done it can be used again and again and again, so the effort is well worth making.
When you download the template (link below), you will find that it has two tabs – “Board” and “Questions”. You need to start by creating 45 questions – one has been done for you as an example. Creating these questions is the time-consuming part!
Once you are ready to play a game, click on “board” and press “new game”: 25 of the questions will be selected at random, and the opening letter to each answer will be displayed. Up to four teams can play at once, each taking on a certain colour. Their task is to connect four letters in a straight line – horizontal, vertical or diagonal – by correctly answering the relevant questions. Each time they get an answer right, click on their colour to show that this square can no longer be claimed by anyone else.
Many students enjoy the strategy element to this game – keeping an eye on what opponents are up to and doing everything they can to block them. If all teams are prevented from achieving a Connect Four, then the team with the most correct answers is declared the winner.
Each game can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes, so it might be wise to set a time limit before you start. Each time you press “new game” a new selection of questions is made – some of these will have appeared before, so pupils soon realise that it pays to stay focussed!
If you like the sound of this, click here to downloads the template: Connect Four
A great poster explaining how to make the most of our recall skills. If this writing is too small to read, click on the image to enlarge it.
Some food for thought from Columbia University:
We finish this series with a simple starter that’s good for injecting a bit of energy into the lesson. Give the pupils a topic, then give choose a letter from the alphabet.
The first pupil to think of a word which is relevant to that topic and starts with that letter is the alphabest! Start with letters which you know should elicit some really obvious words, and gradually make them more challenging.
A little competition is always good for warming the class up. In this activity pupils are given clues to help them identify a “mystery guest”. The first clue should be deliberately vague or ambiguous, and each subsequent clue should be a little more precise, with the final clue being a dead giveaway. If pupils get the answer on the last clue, they should score one point, if they get it on the second to last clue then they score 2 points, and so on.
This starter could just be used as a quick recap activity, but it can also provide a good introduction to exploring key themes. For example, in English literature the first clue for one guest could be “somebody who has fallen out with a close relative”, and then the same clue could be used for an entirely different guest, thereby highlighting just how often family strife is central to tragic events.
For those who don’t teach English literature or subjects where “mystery guests” are easy to come up with, it is worth bearing in mind that it doesn’t actually have to be a person – it could just as easily be an “item”, a “theme” or a “topic”, though these might require a little more imagination!
This simple starter works well as a quick revision activity. From a series of topics select two words which are peculiar to each one. Present all the words to the pupils in a random order, and ask them to spot the pairs.
A more sophisticated version of this activity can be created by selecting words where the pairs are not so obvious, or where each word could potentially be linked with several of the others on offer. Pupils are then challenged to explain the thinking behind the links that they pick out.
This simple starter encourages pupils to reflect on key knowledge and to think about the links between different ideas. Display several words and ask the pupils to identify the topic they all relate to. This could serve as a simple recap, or could be used as a springboard for further exploration.