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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Our Survey Says...

Classroom game shows have always been a staple of exciting classroom reviews and informal educational programming. Through the use of technology, one can easily make these game shows incredibly realistic for a totally immersive experience. PowerPoint is the platform of choice for this. I have used PowerPoint to design Jeopardy, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and The Weakest Link games for school Purim programs and Shiriyah, our yearly color war.

There are three keys to effective PowerPoint game shows: graphics, sound effects, and hyperlinked slides. The game show has to look like the real thing through convincing graphics, sound like it by using the actual theme songs and various sounds associated with the game, and act like it through slides that advance for questions and answers in the same way they do in the actual game. I think the most important of these three are the sound effects. The right theme music and buzzer sounds gives the game show the genuine feel you want for a convincing experience. I also highly recommend using a game show buzzer system which your school might already own for college bowl or other teams.

Although these games appear to be technically challenging to create they are actually quite easy through the use of predesigned templates. Here is a site for PowerPoint templates and sound effects for $100,000 Pyramid, The Hollywood Squares, Wheel of Fortune, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, Family Feud, Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader, and Deal or No Deal. Here is another site with more PowerPoint game show templates. When I create my game shows I often choose more than one template of a specific game show and then combine the best elements of both. I also add my own flourishes such as the head of the teacher who is the game show host appearing instead of the head of Alex Trebek or Regis Philbin. If one does not wish to use PowerPoint to create game shows then one can also use Smart Notebook. Here are a list of Jeopardy templates from the Smart Exchange.

  • One idea for the Who Wants to be a Millionaire PowerPoint game is to use Poll Anywhere for the Ask the Audience option. This would involve creating multiple choice questions in advance on Poll Anywhere  for every Millionaire question. When a contestant chooses ask the audience, one would click on the Ask the Audience icon on each slide which would be hyperlinked to the specific Poll Anywhere multiple choice online poll for that slide. The audience would then be instructed to take out their cell phones in order to respond to the poll. One might want to purchase one of the Poll Anywhere plans for this as the free plan only allows up to 30 audience responses per question.

I have found a number of game shows that do not even require a specific program to run since they either use HTML or Flash. One such online Jeopardy builder is Jeopardy Labs. This site contains a really simple editor to create Jeopardy games that are hosted online at a specific web address for each game. One can also browse the various Jeopardy games created by other users. These games look convincing. The one big drawback of them is that they lack sound effects which is a key feature to creating a convincing game show.

My favorite site for Flash based games is a site that allows you to easily build Family Feud games complete with music, sound effects, and a scoreboard that keeps score. Family Feud is probably the best game to play for a large group since one can easily have 5 members per team and switch players every round so that in the course of a game 30-40 students can get the chance to play. Family Feud is also a favorite because one can survey real students and teachers prior to the show for the "100 people survey". Here is the site for the Family Feud Flash based game. I created a Kashrut Family Feud game based on the Flash program above.

Click on the following link to access this complete: Kashrut Family Feud game with question generator. It will require you to create a Dropbox login.

Have fun! It's Time for Family Feud!

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