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Ryan Sturm
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Using Wits and Wagers in the Classroom


Wits and Wagers in the Classroom

Hello Everyone!

I have had a lot of fun using Wits and Wagers in my classroom and I thought I would share my experiences with others in the hopes that others will take advantage of this great game as an educational tool.

Equipment:

I soon realized that I would need to modify the components so that the whole class could participate in the experience. My wife is the best and helps me with crazy projects like this. She made this giant Wits and Wagers board for me out of cloth which I could hang on my white board with magnets. Its hard to tell from the picture but this board is about 4 feet by 2 feet.



Then I created some bags containing a answer board, two betting chips, a colored dry erase marker, tissue and starting chips



Great, thats much better! Now the whole class can see what the choices are. Lets play the game!


Lessons:

I was teaching fifth graders at the time and the first lesson I tried this with was various American historical events taking a cue from some of the question cards. As we did each event I placed it on a timeline, in an attempt to give students some historical perspective on when major events happened.

Here were the events which I had pictures to represent and a giant timeline. Of course I didn't do all of these and they were given in random order. After we were done with the game I used the rest by having students guess where they should end up on the timeline.

Timeline Event List:

1. The First Americans
3. Christopher Columbus
4. Explorers head for America: From England, Porugal and Spain
5. Conquistadors conquer the Aztec
6. Pilgrims sign the Mayflower Compact
7. Salem witch trials
8. Jamestown
10. George Washington
11. Boston Tea Party
12. Declaration of Indepedence
13. Revolutionary War
14. Louisiana Purchase
15. California Gold Rush
16. American Civil War
17. Abraham Lincoln
18. Thomas Edison invents the light bulb
19. Baseball is invented
20. Women's suffrage
21. World War II
22. TV is invented
23. Martin Luther King : Civil Rights
24. Nasa Program takes off


Then I got the idea that this game is basically about estimation and what better subject to use for estimation than math! I developed two lessons to get students excited about learning circumference and area.

The second lesson I created years later was when I was faced with the task of creating an engaging lesson comparing and contrasting Canada and the United States. Whoa. Could you pick a more boring topic? That’s like comparing I don’t know 2 percent milk and 1 percent milk, who cares? Wits and Wagers to the rescue!

I have uploaded both of these lessons and accompanying lesson materials as pdfs I hope someone can use them! All of these lessons were used with fifth graders but could be used with younger or older. I did try the Canada lesson with a class of fourth graders and it worked out great.

These materials can be found here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/47680

While creating these lessons an unexpected bonus came up. We spend a lot of time learning data landmarks of Maximum, Minimum, Range, Median, Mode as well as Probability. What a wonderful way to use this knowledge in an authentic way! While playing the game of wits and wagers it’s very easy to discuss how It is more likely that the median answer be picked than the maximum or the minimum. It’s also very useful to the players to learn how the size of the range for each section influences the probability of it being the winning answer! Wonderful! The kids had to use their knowledge of these mathematical terms for their success in the game.

The other great thing about using Wits and Wagers is you don’t really have to teach the game before getting into the lesson you just teach it as you go. Have kids write their guesses, take the guesses and arrange them, explain to the kids to pick one or two sections, give them points and you are off. It’s simple and intuitive. Estimate well then make an educated guess.

It’s easy for me to think of many more topics I might use Wits and Wagers with to liven them up. Just take any set of facts with numerical answers and off you go. Right now I am thinking of Caterpillar/Butterfly facts that would require numbers…. And I may be on my way to a lesson.

I am working with third graders this year this year so I may need to use smaller numbers but I still think I could use it and we would have a blast. Also I am thinking the whole business of the chips could be removed and you could keep a scoreboard at the front of the class and just give a point for each red chips the game would normally give you. That would definitely make it easier with younger kids.

Thanks Dominic and North Star Games for a great game, and for all teachers out there bring your copy of wits and wagers into the classroom, if you don’t have a copy, go get one!

-Ryan Sturm
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Dominic Crapuchettes
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North Star Games designs party games that don't suck! Play them with your non-gamer friends over the holidays.
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First there was Hearts, then there was Spades, and now we bring you Clubs. The suit of clubs finally gets some respect!
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It makes me really happy to see people using W&W in the classroom. Just last month I started emailing someone who might be able to help create W&W family edition lesson plans for the classroom. I hope you don't mind if I point him to this page to get some ideas.
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Ryan Sturm
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Of course go right ahead! If you are interested in another writer just let me know, I'd be happy to help.
 
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