Adapting games – Wits and Wagers

Wits and Wagers is a fun and light game about betting on other people’s knowledge. This adaptation takes that idea and uses it to encourage students to discuss and analyse their answers and compare them to the rest of the class. In my example I am using the game as an error correction activity with an advanced class. However, it could be used in a variety of ways with different levels, which will be shown at the end.

In this example I have written four sentences based on errors my students made in the previous lesson:

  1. I’m just yawned I’m so tiring. I’m not used to do parties every night like this.
  2. They went for the pub to try a new menu. I don’t know how it tasted like but they told it was different than the old menu.
  3. I don’t think she gets on quite well with family. She makes arguments to her mother during all week.
  4. My friends got marry last year. There weren’t much guests, which you could see very clear because of the empty chairs in each table.

I divide the class into groups of three and give each group a copy of sentence 1. They discuss the sentence together and write one sentence which corrects all of the errors. They have to commit to their sentence. Meanwhile I divide the board into equal parts. When the groups are finished they each nominate a writer to write their sentence on the board. They can’t make any alterations at this stage as that would be cheating. The students all sit down and review the sentences on the board.

My four groups have written:

  • I’ve just yawned I’m so tired. I’m not used to have parties every night like this.
  • I just yawned I’m so tired. I’m not used to having parties every night like this.
  • I’ve yawned, I’m so tired. I’m not used to going to parties all night like this.
  • I’ve just yawned I’m so tired. I didn’t use to have parties every night like this.

Each group discusses the four answers and then they have to bet on which one they think is the best, or most correct. Each group has two bets, so they can pick one sentence twice, or spread their bets between two answers. The groups are encouraged to discuss the various differences and come to a decision together. Once the bets are made (and noted on the board) we discuss the reasons for each choice as a class and identify the errors that have been corrected from the original and also what mistakes have remained, or been added, in each case. I alter sentences where necessary and identify mistakes and where the meaning of the sentence has changed, all of which is elicited from students.

Finally, we identify the most correct answer, or answers, as a class and award points for those that bet on the correct sentence. Notice that this system rewards students for identifying mistakes in their own work and understanding why other students have written something different. In this game you do not lose points for your mistakes, but rather you gain points for recognizing where you made mistakes.

Once everything is clear and the points have been awarded I pass out the next sentence and the process starts again. We go through each sentence and then at the end of the game the group with the most points wins.

The sentences I chose for this activity included a variety of discussion points and the game took 45 minutes. It would be very easy to play this game with more straightforward controlled practice exercises or any grammar structures you would like your students to discuss. I would recommend playing this game with intermediate level students or above, although at lower levels students could play if they discussed the grammar in L1.

I have recently started a Facebook page you can find here and you can find details about the game that inspired the post, Wits and Wagers, here.

I haven’t given you the final answers my class decided on yet, so how would you correct them?