20 envelopes + 3 marker boards = Zapped!

At least twice per week, a student will bust into my classroom and the first thing he/she asks is, “Can we play Zapped today?!”  So, when I surveyed my students around the mid-year mark, asking for their opinions, likes/dislikes with class and their favorite activities, it was no surprise that “Zapped” made a lot of appearances on the survey as a class favorite.

I thought I’d write a little about “Zapped” – how we play, when we use it, and why it’s worked so well for reviewing material with students.

How is it played?
It’s a pretty straightforward, team-based review game, and the concept is really simple:

First, students are divided into 3 teams.  Each team has one marker and marker board. Every team begins the game with the same number of points.  Usually we start with 5 points per team.

Next, I begin by asking review questions to the first team.  However, all teams must answer every question.

  • If team 1 gets it right, they receive one point and then choose a numbered envelope (more on that below).
  • If team 1 gets it wrong, then I immediately move to team 2 (then team 3) to allow them the option to steal.  The team that correctly answers receives one point for a correct answer and also chooses a numbered envelope.

The envelopes are numbered 1-20.  Each envelope contains a different scenario that affects the team’s points.

  • First, I started with simple stuff, like:
    • Double, triple or half your points.  (or double/triple/half another team’s points).
    • Receive all the points from another team.
    • Give another team ____ points.
  • Then, I started getting a little wild…
    • Replace your score with the date (either month or day – my choice).
    • Double your score if you can sing one verse from a Spanish pop song.
    • Lose all your points unless a member of your team shows his/her best dance move.
    • Whoever has the next birthday in the team must switch places with someone from another team.
  • The Zapped cards are the best (and worst) in the bunch.  If your team is “zapped” your score is reduced to zero.  However, there are other cards that allow you to zap one other team, and one card that lets you zap all other teams!

How to win: have the most points when the envelopes are gone!

Tips for keeping everyone engaged:
Sometimes it’s hard to find a whole-class review game that consistently involves all students.  For example, when playing Jeopardy to review, it’s easy for some students to simply sit back and allow their teammates to volunteer all the answers, thereby missing the crucial review.  While this is certainly a problem, completely eliminating the practice of a review game didn’t seem right (or very fun) either.

Here are a couple of ways that I’ve modified “Zapped” to include everyone, at all times:

  • All teams must answer every question.   Not only does this allow teams to “steal” from another group that answers incorrectly, it also ensures that all teams are engaged in every question (even when its another team’s turn).
  • As we progress through each question, each team must allow every member a chance to write.  We pass the marker and board around clockwise to keep everyone in each group on-task and involved.

Why do I like it?

I absolutely love finding an activity that allows students to engage and review with the content material and that creates a high-energy, fun and competitive classroom environment.  It’s such a simple concept and only requires envelopes, and markers/marker boards.  To be honest, when I first made my envelopes and decided to try it out in class, I didn’t have high hopes that it would be a huge hit.  However, the students constantly request playing it again and again because it turned out to be a fast-paced,  competitive and just plain fun activity.

Here is a picture of my well-worn Zapped envelopes.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any action shots of students playing Zapped, as it’s pretty fast-paced and tough for me to snap pictures and moderate.  🙂

Happy Friday!
Sra. Blackburn

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