Quercus Prep Quiz Show!

The most fun way we're doing memory work is... a quiz. Really! Thanks to Homestar Runner and some sound effect buzzers, it's a blast.

Wanda has her hands clasped over her joyfully agape mouth, in front of the Quiz Show intro slide.
This is what it looks like when Wanda thinks something is THE BEST THING EVER.

👍🏻 Wanda is really into Homestar Runner. IYKYK.

👍🏻 Wanda is really into slideshow presentations.¹

👎🏻 Wanda is really not into having to explain things. Which can be hard; there's a lot of explaining things in life! Wanda has a wonderful ability to express herself, but doing it on demand is a different beast, and can be excruciating for her.

👎🏻 Wanda is really not into getting things wrong. Who is? But learning how to handle being wrong about things is a pretty important skill. Perfectionism and the negative self-talk that can come with it are a common pitfall for gifted kids.

I came up with a way to honor these four things while adding more memory work to our week—and created what Wanda says is "the best school thing ever!" It's a weekly quiz, hosted by Wanda's favorite Homestar Runner characters (King of Town, Homsar, The Cheat... basically anyone who isn't the Poopsmith).

A presentation slide, saying "Quercus Prep Quiz Show! With your host, the King of Town!"
Intro slide for the Quercus Prep Quiz Show!

We do it downstairs, where we have a projector and a big pull-down screen. I set out four color-coded buzzers, each one with a goofy sound effect² ("lalala, I'm orange!" "PURPLE!" "bloooooo?!" "GREENgreen").

Four round plastic buzzers, in four colors: blue, purple, green, and orange.
Color-coded buzzers, each with a custom-recorded sound effect.

A question is displayed on the big screen, along with four color-coded possible answers. She hits a buzzer to match the answer she chooses, and I reveal the correct answer. Then the "host" comes on the screen, and says something completely ridiculous.

She loves it. Not only does she not have to explain herself to answer, she doesn't even need to say a single word. Plus, the giggling goes a long way to take the edge off when she's wrong.

Multiple choice quizzes don't show the strongest effect for building memory retention—the flash cards I posted about last week are better—but they have shown positive effect on long-term retention under research conditions.³ They're a perfect fit for our Fridays, when we set aside our more formal lessons to do lighter learning, play games, and generally goof around.

I do about 10 questions, all things that we have learned about at some point. I always end with a trivia question about Homestar Runner, which she is guaranteed to get right. It was easy to make the slides using Google Slides—as a matter of fact, within an hour of my surprising Wanda with our quiz, she had created her own just like mine, without any help from me. Naturally, it was about Homestar Runner trivia, and I did not ace that quiz.

¹ Wanda has become a bit of a whiz with Google Slides. She loves to feel all official by putting on a show for us on the big screen. Sometimes she does an informational presentation, but sometimes she even uses the animations to make little movies. It reminds me of how David Byrne got really into PowerPoint as an art form right at the turn of the millenium, and I love it.

² These are the same customizable buzzers people use to try to communicate with their dogs (and cats?? who are these people). You can record them to say whatever you like. They're pretty cheap and have lots of terrible reviews. I'm not betting on them to last terribly long, but they'll be fun for a while.

³ Per the book Make It Stick, by Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel.

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