How to run a quiz to teach a subject
Many trainers run quizzes or tests during their training courses or at the end to help capture learning and events. But have you ever run a quiz to actually teach something from scratch? It works, is fun, and I’ve done it many times, so let me share with you how you can do it. It works especially well if you wish to teach something quite technical that’s contained in a booklet or workbook or textbook. First of all, you need to decide what you want to cover in your course. And you should have this within a handout or workbook. Then you announce the quiz to your group. You’ll want to explain to the pragmatic ones why you are doing this.
They will be thinking a quiz won’t teach them anything, but it does. As always, announce instructions in steps, keeping a tight control over the explanation so that everyone is listening. Next put them into teams. You decide the size and structure of these, but I have often worked with groups of forty people. Teams mustn’t be any bigger than four or five. Then set them the task of designing five or six questions based on the material in front of them. Give them index cards to write the questions on and ensure they appreciate the need for the answers on the reverse of the card. Give them time to create the questions. Suggest they don’t go for easy questions. Put the score cards on the white board or flip chart, clearly laid out, and begin round one.
When they have finished, ask them for a team name; encourage cool and funky names, such as the Winners or the Cool Gang, something humorous. Confirm that each team will ask one of their questions to another team and that there’ll be four rounds. You have fifteen seconds to determine the right answer, and you can refer to your textbook or brochure during this time. If you are incorrect, then you can allow a bonus to another team worth three marks. Begin round one.
Give a big prize to the winning team, and as always, debrief the exercise by GLU’ing the whole thing together
Make it fun and quiz showy. Deduct marks for insolence; award extra marks for smiling, good questions, or because you can. Keep it moving; do scores after each round; promise a prize; make the event exciting. After a few times of running your quiz session, you’ll collect some good questions so you could have a ‘Paul Round’ to tighten up on the learning objectives. Give a big prize to the winning team, and as always, debrief the exercise by GLU’ing the whole thing together.
G – What did you get from the exercise?
L – What did you learn?
U – How could you use it in your work?
Don’t be afraid to run a quiz session around a particular technical subject. Allocate a good hour; you’ll have some fun, and they’ll learn a whole lot more than if you forced a dozen PowerPoint slides at them.
Give each learning team half a dozen index cards and ask them to write questions about the subject matter on the card with the answer on the reverse. Collect all the cards and run a quiz along the lines of a quiz show with points and prizes.
Ask each learner to write three or more questions on a piece of paper. Ask them to wander around the room and find someone to ask one of their questions. If they know the answer, great. If not, then the pair needs to find someone who does. The aim is to have all the questions asked. To review ask some learners to read out their questions and confirm the answers.
Put people in pairs. Designate one partner ‘A’ and the other ‘B.’ Have ‘A’ ask ‘B’ questions nonstop for five minutes, one question after the other. Questions can be a mix of ones the questioners know the answer to and ones they don’t. Have them make notes of the questions neither ‘A’ nor ‘B’ can answer. After the allotted time, have the partners exchange roles. After this exercise the class as a whole, together with the facilitator, can field any questions that remain unanswered.
Give learners several large Post-it notes and ask them to write on each one a question they have about the learning material. Ask them to post their questions anonymously on a question board on the wall or on a flip chart. During a break, ask learners to examine the questions and pick off those that they can answer. After the break, have learners read to the class the questions they have picked and give the answers. Learners and the facilitator can add to these answers as appropriate.
Give each person a full sheet of blank paper Ask everyone to write a question that they have on the paper. Ask them to print their question so someone can easily read it and to not sign their name. Have them ball up the paper. You can then collect the question balls in a bucket and redistribute them by throwing one to every person in the class. Or if the group needs a physical energizer, you can ask them to stand up and have a snowball fight with the question balls, seeing how many people they can hit in three seconds. Then, at a signal, ask everyone to pick up a ball, open it, and use any person or resource in the room to help answer the question on it. After a few minutes, ask everyone to read their question to the class and give its answer.
Put all your (question) cards on the table
Distribute blank index cards to learners seated five or six to a table. Ask each learner to write the questions they have about the learning material on the cards, one question per card. Then ask all the people at the table to combine their cards into one deck. Have each table select a dealer. The dealer then shuffles the deck and deals the cards face down to everyone at the table. Each learner in turn reads while you play music. Ask them to keep passing the question cards around the circle to the person on the right. When the music stops, they’ll be given one to three minutes to formulate an answer to the question they are holding. They can use any person or resource in the room to help them answer it. Then everyone reads their question and gives its answer.
Hot potato question circle
Ask people to stand and form a circle. Have one of the learners start the play by asking a question and throwing a Koosh ball or other soft ball to anyone in the circle. The person catching the ball has to answer the question. If the person cannot answer the question immediately, they quickly throw the ball like a hot potato to someone else in the circle. The ball keeps circulating until someone can answer the question posed. The person answering the question gets to ask a new question and the process starts all over again. Instead of a Koosh ball, you could use an actual potato. (Variation: To prime the pump, the facilitator can give everyone in the circle a card with a question on it to be asked when it’s their turn.)
Team question exchange
Divide the learners into two or more teams. Ask each team to devise a ten- or twenty question quiz for another team that would test their understanding of the learning material. Teams then exchange question sets. The first team to answer all their questions correctly wins a bag of peanuts or some other prize.
Stump your buddy
In the middle or at the end of a presentation, put people in pairs. Have partners ask each other five questions about the subject matter – both questions they know the answer to and those they don’t, If neither partner can answer a question posed, the partners ask this question to the whole group at the end of the exercise.
Pass the hat
Ask everyone to put one or more of their questions on a card and put it in a hat. Then have each learner pull a question from the hat and read it to the class. The first person to answer it correctly gets a point, or a prize. The facilitator answers only those questions that none of the learners can.