How to Play Jeopardy in the Classroom

Student raising hand in classroom
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If your students quickly tire from lecture-based learning, help them to get hands-on with a Jeopardy game. Take the famed game show from the small screen to your classroom with an answer-and-question activity. From biology facts to social studies content, you can explore almost any class concept with your students while playing this interactive game.

1 Maximize the Game-Play Benefits

Using a game such as Jeopardy as a learning tool may increase student engagement, according to the article "Playing Jeopardy in the Classroom: An Empirical Study" in the Journal of Information Systems Education. Jeopardy can also help you to introduce material or help your students to better learn challenging content. Use the game after starting a subject or before a test. Doing so helps your students to recall facts and figures in a way that's more meaningful than simply staring at a piece of paper. For example, before a literature test on "The Great Gatsby," use a Jeopardy game to help the students review characters, scenes or selections from the book.

2 Create Content-Driven Questions

The point of playing Jeopardy in the classroom is to help your students learn current content. Even though this is an entertaining game, it's also highly educational. Match the game content with your lesson plan goals or grade-level learning standards. For example, middle school students should understand how geoscience processes such as weathering change the face of the Earth, according to the Next Generation Science Standards. If you're covering this material in class, use "weathering" as an answer to a geoscience process question or create an entire category about it. You can create content-driven questions across all class content areas and in all grade levels. These may range from something simple such as "4" as an answer with "2+2" as a possible question, to more complex history, foreign language or literature features.

3 Motivate Your Students to Succeed

Not only does the Jeopardy format lead to engagement, but it may also help to motivate your learners. The students are competing to win the highest number of points. The competition factor motivates your students to succeed and demonstrate mastery over the material. In a study of Jeopardy-type games and grammar lessons, the students who learned by playing had better learning results than those who had the traditional lecture-based classes, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Journalism and Mass Communications department. To maximize students' success, keep the game competitive, in a friendly way. Keep scores, praise the participants and possibly offer an age-appropriate prize. For example, the top three first-graders receive stickers, or the winner in your seventh-grade class gets five extra credit points.

4 Introduce the Game Rules

Don't assume that your students already know the Jeopardy game rules. Familiarize them with the answer-question format and the rules first, according to Educational Insight's "Classroom Jeopardy Teacher's Guide." Make it clear that you will provide the answer for each question. It is the student's job to come up with the actual question. Give the students examples first such as, "I will say secondary colors. You must reply 'What are orange, purple and green?' to get the point." Play a practice round or two to get the students used to the format.

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.