"I ham it up with my Howie Mandel impersonation when I play this game," Chris Quist told Education World. "I have the student-contestant tell us a little about herself or himself. I ask if the student has a favorite number, or how he the briefcase was picked."
What Quist describes is her classroom version of the popular television game Deal or No Deal. It makes an appearance -- complete with "briefcases" and "prizes" -- nearly every Friday in her fifth grade classroom at Gobles (Michigan) Elementary School!
"I hardly ever watch television, but I was home on maternity leave with my son, Lucas, and I started watching Deal or No Deal," Quist recalls. "My mother-in-law came for a week, and we were hooked. We would pick our briefcases, choose a lucky briefcase for the lucky briefcase game, and debate if players should take the money or continue."
Quist knew immediately that the show would make a terrific classroom game because of its natural element of suspense. She chose to use white takeout boxes with large black numbers on the outside as her "briefcases," but elected to include only six of them to keep the game manageable. Inside the boxes, Velcro attachments allow her to switch the "prizes" among the boxes for each game.
Amounts of homework -- all of the even-numbered questions, all of the odd-numbered questions, questions 1-10 or 10 and above, all the questions that are prime numbers -- are written on strips of laminated paper and secured to the inside of the boxes. Students play the game to see how much, if any, homework they will have over the weekend. Playing the role of the "banker," Quist tries to get her contestants to agree to a deal that will have them complete as much of the assignment as possible.
"I always include a no homework prize, which is equivalent to $1,000,000 if you are a student!" Quist reports. "I arbitrarily place the slips in the boxes and line the boxes up on the chalk ridge of the board. We randomly pick a student, and he or she gets to play for the class."
The game is billed as a privilege, and whatever the student-contestant decides is final. Class members know that if they give the player a hard time, they will receive the entire assignment without a chance for reduced work.
"The student picks a briefcase, and I set it aside," Quist explained. "Then the student chooses to open three more briefcases to see what is not in his or her briefcase. Then I get to devise a deal. I write the deal on the board, and the player has to tell me if he or she takes the deal. If the answer is no, the class gets the assignment in the selected briefcase."
To take full advantage of her students' love of the game, Quist adds another "no homework" prize inside the briefcases when her students show an exceptional level of on-task behavior. She finds it amusing that students actually are disappointed because they don't have homework on Friday and the game isn't played. When using the game with more than one class period, Quist tracks the outcome of each round so that she can remember the homework "deal" of each group.
"My students love this activity," adds Quist. "They beg to do it on days other than Fridays. They keep very close tabs on who has had the opportunity to choose a briefcase and who hasn't. I don't pressure anyone to be the contestant. If a student chooses not to play, then we just move on to the next person."
Article by Cara Bafile
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