Nothing beats good old fashioned quizzes as engaging time fillers. Quizzes also have relevance to general knowledge and understanding. They can be related to subjects being studied, to skills development and to general knowledge – to name but a few options. One of the best topics has to do ‘the world around’ in terms of constructs within the local environment. Topics that come to mind within this genre included:
1. School Source
* Features in and around the school and its grounds.
* Identification of teachers who are teaching in particular units or rooms; call it ‘location, location’.
* Roles filled by people within the school. “Who is our principal? Who is our Janitor? Who is our canteen manageress?” and similar questions.
* For older students, chronological recall of who has been in the school and their capacities in times past.
* Historical events embracing the school including anniversaries. (It may be that a quiz of this nature is given ‘on notice’ allowing students a day or a few days to visit the historical archive of the school in the library/resource centre to study material from which questions may be drawn.
* Quiz material is embedded within literature and can be part of the study relating to science, SOCE, mathematics, music and other school subjects.
2. Community Context
* ‘ What’s where’ and similar questions relating to the local shopping centre or a nearby major shopping complex.
* Questions about road names, parks, sporting facilities, churches, natural or man-made landmarks, street names, bus routes and so on that apply to the location or suburb.
3. Territory Context
In similar vein, questions about the Territory or State in terms of landmarks, topographical features, tourist destinations, notary public people, parliamentary make-up, mining, agricultural pursuits, industries, parliamentary details and do on can be source material for quizzes. There can be a link to local and extended excursions with students being made aware of the fact that quizzing will be part of the follow-up program.
4. Australian Context
Included might be questions about federal parliament, names of State and Territory capitals, features of major cities (i.e. Sydney’s ‘coat hanger’ and opera house), methods of travel to reach these places, attractions within cities, states and territories, weather and climate, celebrations (i.e. Australia Day, Anzac Day),sporting events (i.e. Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race, football codes, Territory players in Australian sporting teams), topographical features, naturally occurring phenomena (i.e. droughts, floods, bush-fires,weather disturbances), and so on. The list of source material is endless.
The important thing is to construct quizzes according to the age, background and comprehension of students. However, quizzes which start within the confidence zone of known and understood issues can extend to enable children to explore, through quizzing, areas of new knowledge and understanding.
It seems that there is a surprising lack of general knowledge these days. Many adults let alone children have no grasp of what might be termed ‘general knowledge. Quizzing is one way of helping to develop this base of understanding.
When conducting quizzes between groups, watch that the exercise does not become a ‘free-for-all’ with children, having no consideration for others, calling out answers in loud, drowning tones. It has to be ‘hands up’ or a variation of that methodology. With arms, avoid the distraction that goes with frantically waving extensions. Still, rather than wildly gesturing arms should be acknowledged. Set the protocol ground rules before commencing the exercise.
6. Quiz examples
I will include a couple of examples of quiz construction in this vignette. However, quiz questions can be pulled straight from one’s head. Groups within the class can play in competition with each other. The context may be a ‘girls versus boys’ approach or any other arrangement that comes to mind. If as sometimes happens, a teacher has to take temporary responsibility for another class, it may be that the quiz is between the two classes, or a number of children selected as representatives from each class.
There are lots of variations to traditional oral quizzes that can be stimulating, engaging and exciting. I may write of these in the future.