Have you ever performed The Unfair Recreation in school?

In preparation for an upcoming test or quiz, I am happy to provide my students with a study guide or practice test. It’s a great formative assessment tool for teachers and students. And parents always appreciate a good study guide.

However, I want to go through a study guide because a review can be monotonous for students. One of my professors said that a student’s attention span, measured in minutes, is roughly equal to their age. For example, a 10-year-old student can pay attention for about 10 minutes. And that number is around 12 minutes for most high school students (as well as adults). In short, they get bored quickly!

Over the past few years, I’ve used a number of strategies to keep my students engaged when reviewing for an upcoming assessment. Recently I tried playing The Unfair Game with my students and they loved it! The preparation is super easy and leads to a very high level of commitment from the students. Variations of this game are trending on social media. Here’s how I got it working for my students.

How to play The Unfair Game

1. Prepare a study guide and give it to the students.

Sharing the questions in advance helps keep the risk environment low. We want to reduce student anxiety where we can 🙂

2. Create a price board with five prices.

See the image below.

3. Have a student volunteer come to the whiteboard and do an assignment from the study guide.

You can order the problems randomly or sequentially; Take volunteers or call students. What works best for your class.

4. If the student solves the task correctly, they can claim a prize.

If the student is wrong, ask another student to solve the problem.

5. Continue to invite random students to solve problems on the board.

6. Once all five prizes have been claimed, students can steal a prize slot from someone else.

That makes it “unfair”.

7. The game ends when all tasks are solved or the time is up.

To make this game run smoother I used Classroomscreen. Classroomscreen has a random name guesser that makes this game a breeze. Also, I used it to create my price board as seen in the image above. Check it out here: classroomscreen.com.

As I mentioned before, this game brings a very high level of engagement! My experiences led me to believe that they were really paying attention and trying to get their math problems right in order to steal the prizes. My students love The Unfair Game and always ask when we’re going to play it again!

Have you played The Unfair Game? Share your tips with us in the comments.

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