Zoinks is a game where students can collaborate and help each other, but it gets even more fun when the teacher and students get strategic.
Here are some ways that students can bend the rules, take risks, enhance their learning, and earn points for their team.
Strategy 1: Go big or go home!
Zoinks works best when large numbers of students click "I Know This." Big risk, but big reward! In order to facilitate this, here are a few helpful hints:
- Set up your classroom into two teams that are facing each other.
- Set clear expectations for each game or each round. Tell them what texts they should use, what notes they should have out, and drop hints about helpful resources you have in your room (posters, dictionaries, word walls, etc.).
- Remind students that they should be helping each other answer questions. The more students who know the answer, the bigger the chance that their team will earn points!
- Monitor how many kids are answering on the screen. Egg them on!
- Pour on the praise for what they do right. Partially correct answers can go a long way in helping build confidence in an uncertain child, and can make them open up and try again next time!
Each student’s answer is worth 2 points, so teams that are most successful will work together, share answers, and encourage each other to click “I Know This!” Even if your total class size is small, students still have a large group of people to rely on, so it’s usually worth the risk.
The only time where students should NOT do this is if they are collectively not sure of the answer. When that happens, the best strategy is to only have one or two students click “I Know This.” If they’re wrong, they don’t hand over too many points to the other team, who might be able to steal.
Strategy 2: Choosing the Zoinkster
The only students who can be selected are the ones who have clicked, “I Know This,” but that doesn’t always mean they have the right answer.
At first, the Chooser may pick a student they feel is less skilled than the others. Remember, this student knows he will be chosen because he has clicked, “I Know This.”
But he’s had the support of his team boosting him up, so he’ll be ready. You’ll find that students who normally lose in other games are able to be heroes in Zoinks. For this reason, the Chooser won’t want to keep picking the kids they perceive as “weaker.”
Instead, students will want to choose someone they think is being deceptive, and they will want to vary who they pick, not the same student over and over.
Strategy 3: Fake It Til Ya Make It
Occasionally, a student will click “I Know This!” but they don’t know the answer. They might’ve entered a nonsense answer, or they might’ve typed, “I don’t know.” Whatever they put down, they could possibly earn their team 2 points, as long as they don’t get caught.
As a teacher, you might be thinking right now: “Wait, so students can win and not know?”
Not exactly. Before credit is given to anyone, the teacher will interact live with the question and answer. Teachers will ask students to defend their answers, using this as an opportunity for meaningful learning. In Zoinks, wrong answers still lead to the right ones!
Strategy 4: Debating the Answer
When it’s time for you to offer credit, students will debate about the merits of their answers, and there is epic learning that happens in those moments! Kids who maybe have not submitted a written answer that is “correct” have a chance to debate why they should get credit. Students will notice a misspelling, or a student will challenge someone because they feel their answer is stronger. When this happens, the whole class erupts in a discussion about whose answer is stronger and why.
This is the golden moment in Zoinks for teachers, because we know that in school it isn’t about the game, it’s about kids learning—and that happens all the time when playing Zoinks!
Strategy 5: Vary the Questions
The final strategy in this tutorial takes place when the teacher is designing the game. As you build your question sets, be mindful about all the learners in the room. You can control the strategy of how fair the game is by considering each group of students, and writing a variety of questions that are challenging for them!
If your third period is quiet, task them to write and perform song lyrics about a science topic, or get them to write a skit describing a historical event. In Zoinks, you can easily integrate social-emotional learning with content.
When you vary the questions, you can use inquiry-based learning as a tool of equity. When we think about why we became teachers in the first place, the answer to that question is in the eye of a child who sees that she understands something new, and getting to play a part in that is at the heart of why we teach.
Have more fun strategies you've found for playing Zoinks? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.