You want your students to learn a concept really well?  The go-to answer is….game jam.

Sure, game jams can start with a basic topic or theme and game creators can take it and run. Nothing wrong with that approach. In fact, amazing games can result.

However, a few more parameters can also create amazing games.

My seniors were getting ready to write rebuttals, which meant we needed to go over how to find problems in others’ arguments, which meant we needed to do some work with fallacies. I wanted students to be familiar with a few common fallacies, and I wanted them to practice analyzing many arguments and figuring out what the fallacy or problem was. Yet, I didn’t want to do a basic Q and A game–I wanted their thinking to be really embedded, and I wanted them to be able to talk about their thinking.

Bring on the game jam. Specifically a Card Game Jam!

First, I gave a 3-minute lecture on fallacies and then in pairs, students sorted images from The Little Book of Arguments with 7 oft-used fallacies.

Once they had a basic knowledge of the fallacies, I split them into teams to create game jams. Beforehand, I made four sets of fallacy type cards and one set of example fallacy cards for each team. I also provided dice, game pieces, notecards, and poster paper.

Teams first went to work designing their game and writing a set of instructions. Then they beta tested their game and adjusted directions as needed. Finally, the groups switched games, though each group left one member behind to teach the incoming group the game.

I imagined a traditional card game like maybe a blend of pitch and Apples to Apples, and yes, one group created a game of Go Fish. But one group created a Candyland inspired game, another designed a similar boardgame, and the last group created a Hedbanz-type game.

Some games were winners. Some, well, not so much. Groups talked about what they would’ve done differently. Some students said they wished I’d labeled the fallacy examples so the answers were clearer (though that was by design–I wanted them to discuss and decide for themselves).

This lesson required some front work. I printed some cards on cardstock, and others I laminated. Finding the fallacies definitely took time. However, this lesson is easily repeatable in future years with no work required.

And based on how easily my seniors are tearing apart arguments now–I think the game jam definitely achieved all I’d hoped for!