Realistic & Practical: Create What Works—by Moving On to What Really Matters

H-02.14b = The Game: Questioning & Answering (Q & A) Methods & Means Based on U.S. Civics, Cultural Literacy, & Social Studies Topics 1-6 = 48 x 6 Game Cards + 3 Game Boards
Click on our previous blog post Q & A From Factually Objective to Beneficially Constructive, and featured product H-02.14a, in order to revisit “Why Use Q & A’ing Instead of Just Talk?” “What Are the Main Kinds of Q & A’s?” “How Can Question Types Be of Pedagogical Benefit in Lessons, Worksheets, Activities, Quizzes, or Games?” After much discussion and work, we decided that the Original English Through Citizenship / Journey Game should be reproduced digitally. We expected to transfer the printed material into our digital template ‘as is’. In fact, we have had to thoroughly transform - research, redesign, reformat - the six decks of Question-Answer Cards!  It was a LOT of work and we are pleased with and proud of the results. Check it out and tell us what you think.
Designed to “teach” objective information (facts & data only) from accompanying texts or other material, the 288 tri-leveled E.T.C. / Journey Game Question Cards could be endlessly edited, adapted, modified, and/or expanded to deliver Maximum Pedagogical Value—i.e. so that each item carries (much) more than a discreet single point of information.  For instance, the three simplistic versions of an early Question classified as U.S. Geography were / are:                                          
[1]  Is San Francisco the largest city in California?  [2] What is the largest city in California? a. San Francisco  b. Los Angeles c. San Diego.  [3] What is the largest city in California? 
[2] True or False? Both in area and population, San Francisco is the largest city in the state of Canada.  (Answer: False)  Now Correct  Errors in the False Item: (Possible Answers) Either in area or population, San Francisco is not the largest city in the state or California.  Or:  Both in area and population, Los Angeles is the largest city in the state of California.  
[3] Multiple-Choice: What is the largest city in California?  a. San Francisco by land area but California City by population.   b. Los Angeles in both size and number of people.  c. Their statistics change every year, so they can never be ranked.  ( Answer: b. [But even so, the extra words or implications in the verbiage could lead to discussion—and perhaps some curious research.] )
[4] Directive: Tell what you know about the three largest cities in California.  (Possible Answer) In land area, the three largest Californian cities in order are Los Angeles, San Diego, and California City.  In population, L.A. is also first and S.D. is second, but San Jose is third, before S.F.  ( Responders are then likely to add facts, data, or even opinions about location, geography, or other features of these cities—including what they’re known for and what visitors experience there.  And they’re inclined to derive their info & thoughts purposefully from any or all accessible sources. )                                      
So clearly then, if the 288 E.T.C. /  Journey: the Game Question Cards were  (cratively / creatively & elaborately) enhanced, they would become (much) more useful as pedagogic tools in Content Instruction, salient-point Review, knowledge Assessment, linguistic Skills Development, cogent Thinking, and productive Understanding or Grasp of targeted Subject Matter, Concepts, and related areas of Inquiry.  
Following our own advice in previous blog posts like that underlined above, here’s what we’ve learned about Materials Re-Doing from re-studying, re-considering, re-formulating, re-updating, re-editing, re-enhancing & otherwise getting re-involved with the 288 English Through Citizenship Q & A Cards, about Topics 1-6 (each with 48 Cards). Because paragraph titles are taken from H-02.14a, they may appear familiar.  What follows, however, is what with further experience and processing, has come to mind, spurring our brains & hands into action.  
Question-Answering Has Physicality. To feel the physical properties of 288 E.T.C. / Journey: the Game Question Cards, Topics 1-6, we touched & handled them, answered the Questions on their faces, and turned them over to check our Answers.  We acknowledged the diverse Colors of the Cards—Red, Green, Yellow, Orange, Blue, Gray; to amplify their contrasts on Card Faces, on our onscreen pages we used extreme versions of these hues, with either dark black or bright white type for Questions.  We put each Card Number (1-48 or to -52 on Topic 3) in a conspicuous box in the lower right-hand corner.
Physicality includes visibility, of course.  So In a prominently centered, appropriately-colored Circle, each Card Back displays its Sub-Topic Number 1-6 & Title (1. Symbols, Holidays, & People; 2. Geography of the U.S.; 3. History of the U.S.; 4. Federal Government; 5. the U.S. Constitution; 6. State & Local Government), and Product Titles: The Game of Knowledge: English Through Citizenship / Journey.  Colorful Background Images enliven Card Backs, reminding users of their Subject Matter.  These also entice participants to turn the Card upside-down (physically) to view  “correct answers” + supplementary material—such as Corrections for False Statements, notes on Multiple-Choices, & informational References.
Here’s what the two sides of Six (6) Q & A Card Sets look like:  
  • “Just Understanding” Is Not Enough for Learning. The formerly printed 288 E.T.C. / Journey: the Game Question Cards, Topics 1-6, were easy enough to understand.  And perhaps because their Questions were originally derived from U.S. Government-generated materials meant for non-native speakers of American English (preparing for Citizenship), they seemed almost formulaic —i.e., not difficult to “pick up” from the reading of simplified text or the hearing of familiar facts or set vocabulary.  Also, since the three (3) queries for each “chunk of information” (Level 1. Yes / No,  Level 2. Choices a, b, c [for the same] 3. Wh-Question [that appears as Level 3] ) were repetitive for reinforcement, there wasn’t that much material to absorb or learn from.  Most importantly, forty-eight (48) discrete “learning points” for each expansive Sub-Topic (1. Symbols, Holidays, & People; 2. Geography of the U.S.; 3. History of the U.S.; 4. Federal Government; 5. the U.S. Constitution; 6. State & Local Government) just wasn’t enough to produce real, significant learning of its main ideas & significant concepts. So . . . we transformed simplistic Yes / No Q’s into True / False Statements that were either accurate in all their details (Sentence Subjects, Verbs, Objects, Adverb Phrases) or incorrect in one or more elements.  To eliminate replication of Wh-Questions, Multiple-Choice Items were changed into Sentences to Complete—with Choices a, b, c either factual in all aspects, clearly wrong (inviting a formulation of their opposites), or simply absurd—enticing Card-Handlers to look up (find out about) mentioned cues & clues.  Informational Queries, then, became true “Open-Questions” that could be answered briefly with a word or phrase, and/or thoroughly—with as much (interesting / potentially significant) detail as a participant could muster. The purpose of all this reformulation?  To expand the substance of all material that could fit on 48 3” x 4” Q & A Cards per Sub-Topic, offering (at the very least) hints that would arouse curiosity—prompting participants to “put it all together” in ways that might serve as “real learning” of the Subject Matter + its significance in the world.
  • The “Drama” of the Media Evokes Emotion. As we worked on revising Q & A’s for all six (6) 48-Card Decks, TV, Radio, or the internet was often “speaking” in the background. If a Quiz Show with (Trivia) Questions was on, because of what we were working on, we often came up with responses that might not have occurred to us previously.  And when the News or current Discussion sprung up, we felt a kind of empathetic involvement that wasn’t there before. Soon we noted that progressing into the depths of knowledge that Subject Matters touched on made it redundant to even refer to the originally printed Q & A Cards at all. Excitedly, we began writing material directly from stimuli outside of our immediate tasking.  Perhaps its purpose was not to copy long-since published written matter at all—but rather to encompass it in ways likely to stimulate its writers & its readers.  
  • Words with Others Activate Minds & Feelings. In addition to physical & virtual interaction with people, there was interplay with machines (desktop, laptop, notebook, hand-held devices) that reacted more quickly—and perhaps more accurately than even human beings (who might be slowing down).  Continuously swapping data by googling & with Hyperlinks kept us going, sometimes even delaying weariness. Somehow these processes gave us the sense of what (true?) learning may be evolving into in this age of electronic educational change.  And if the process of Writing Q & A’s can stimulate their producers, maybe their “productions” will inspire recipients in similarly effective ways. Inventive (Self–) Teaching & Learning will create its own momentum.   
  • Engaging the Youthful & Old(sters) Requires Interchange. Because we’ve joined the latter group (and can remember being among the former), we were able to take advantage of (Knowledge & Predictions) of the Past, Present, & Future. So the 288 (+ 6 = 294) Q & A Cards—now available online for viewing & printing—cover a broad spectrum of experience,  memories, & anticipation. Just as the process of creating them attracted & maintained our attention, curiosity, and sense of participation, the activity of using them to maximum advantage will bolster educational & practical progress in constructive, enjoyable, or lively ways.
  • “Best Practices” in Classroom Instruction Offer Advantages. Educators consider the Q & A Methodology of Classroom Instruction superior in that it [1] encourages students to engage with their work and each other; [2] facilitates learning through active discussion; [3] inspires confidence in participants’ own ideas plus respect for others’ contributions; [4] improves linguistic skills, building critical thinking or ingenuity; [5] helps everyone  to clarify their own understanding; [6] enables players to check if recipients are getting it and to make adjustments; and [7] motivates anybody & everybody involved to stay curious, pursue or refine answers, and formulate their own Q & A’s.  
Now that we’ve completed the work, we’re confident that we—and you—have been successful—and will continue to succeed—in all these aims.  To check it out, peruse the excerpted images below. Then look at the copy of the “Product Description” that follows.
Now click here: H-02.14b = The Game:Questioning & Answering (Q & A) Methods & Means Based on U.S. Civics, Cultural Literacy, & Social Studies Topics 1-6 = 48 x 6 Game Cards + 3 Game Boards


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For over 35 years, Work/Life English has been dedicated to improving the lives of English language learners. We offer a comprehensive range of fun, effective English language improvement lessons and activities to help adult education ESL educators successfully engage their English language students and improve their English competencies, leading to a host of positive effects in students’ professional and personal lives. Better English, Better Life. For more information, visit

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