Change it up!

One of the great things about the Debate it Forward curriculum is its adaptability. It's easy and intuitive to build off of the games, keeping them exciting and new even for students who have already played them before! Today, I'm going to write a little bit about two of my favorite ways to change up a game and make it fit your students.

One classic strategy is to add extra rules and complications. For example, we like to play a game called Infomercial, where players have to work together to create a pitch selling the audience some apparently useless item (think a broken pen cap, a crumpled up piece of scrap paper, or season tickets to the Yankees [kidding!]). Especially for older or more experienced students, we like to add some constraints. Maybe your entire pitch has to rhyme! Or maybe you have to include a bunch of specific words, like "sandwich," "fingernail," and "chemistry." Maybe your team has to choreograph a dance, or use a volunteer from the audience in some way! You get the idea. These are great because while in some ways they make the game harder, in others they make it easier. It provides some structure, and helps get the ball rolling when a team is brainstorming their pitch. Everyone loves a challenge, and by working together to overcome an obstacle (especially one that's a bit silly, and helps everyone be a little but goofy without feeling too self-conscious), these sorts of rules can make the game more fun for everyone -- as well as building problem-solving skills, teamwork, and creativity.

Another way to adapt a game on the fly is by changing up the size of teams. In one class a few weeks ago, for instance, we were playing Blind Drawing. This is a game you might have encountered elsewhere -- one partner tries to give instructions to the other on what to draw, but the partner who's drawing is blindfolded and can't know what they're actually trying to create. This game is a lot of fun, and it's impressive how well people can do sometimes (and funny how far off they can be other times). After playing a bit, we decided to change things up. This time, we had everyone in the whole class try to tell just one student what to draw (while another student, who also didn't know what it was, tried to guess). Some people went in thinking it would be easier with everyone working together, but we actually found it even harder! That was a great opportunity to talk about what happened and why. What were the differences between working with one partner and working with everyone? Although everyone did a good job taking turns on giving instructions, we decided part of the problem was they all seemed to have a different idea of what they wanted it to look like. So we realized how important it is to communicate clearly, to have a common understanding of what we're trying to accomplish, and that working together means more than just trying to do the same thing all at once.

There's plenty of other ways to adapt our games -- different versions of these adaptations as well as other ones entirely -- but I think these a re a great way to get started. They help keep things fun, fresh, and exciting, as well as offering constant opportunities for learning. Thanks for reading, and have fun debating it forward with your students!

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