Classroom Jeopardy Game


Mister L

This is one of my better efforts. It’s a great for reviewing or as an activity on those “high energy” days like the day before Christmas break. I’ve used it for different grade levels and subjects, including adult computer classes at a community college where I taught for several years.

The design is actually pretty simple. It’s an Excel spread sheet with hyperlinks imbedded in the cells. Each cell is simply a circle of three hyperlinks-the board, the question and the answer then back to the board. Throw in a blue background, change the hyperlink color to yellow, get rid of the grid lines, add the Jeopardy jingle and voila! Genius!

Mea Culpa: This was my first major HTML coding project years ago. I did it in MS Front Page.  The code is ugly. Today, I could do it in half the time and a whole lot fewer lines of code. Back then, it was trial and error and work arounds. But it works. If you’d like to try it right now, click here


To use it, download the Jeopardy Game Zip file by right clicking on the link to the left. Select “Save As” or “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”(depending on your browser).You’ll get a download box asking where you want the file to go. The default is your downloads folder, but you can send it anywhere.   IMPORTANT:You need to extract the contents after downloading. The game won’t work while it’s zipped up.

To do that, simply right click on the downloaded zip file icon and select “Extract”.  Once that’s done, click on the DEFAULT.HTM. It will open in the default browser. The Jeopardy jingle will play automatically one time. If you click on a number, the sound stops so you don’t have to wait on it. The sound works best if you have Apple Quicktime installed on the machine.

Once you download the folder, I’d recommend copying it as a backup, maybe a couple of times. A basic rule of programming is never modify original software. You always need to be able to get back to where you were and the easiest way is to have several working copies. Of course, you can always come back here and get another one.

Click on a number. An answer will appear. After the students respond, click on the answer or the accompanying picture and the question will appear. Click on the question or the picture and you’re right back at the board.

To make changes, copy the entire folder. You always want to keep everything together. You’ll see subfolders labeled as Column 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Inside the folders are web pages which are simple HTM (web) files. There’s one for each question and one for each answer. Open each one up in a web/text editor and change the content. Do not change the names of the files. I’ve made the file structure generic so that it never changes – just the content. That’s critical because hyperlinks are pointed to very specific files names in very specific locations. If you change anything in the structure, the hyperlinks will break and the game won’t work.

Here’s an important pointer from my student teacher.

Mister L

File and folder names are case sensitive. So where it says DEFAULT.HTM, that’s how it’s typed. If you’re clicking on links or using drag and drop, you probably don’t have to worry about it. But if you’ve got the guts to go into the code – and you’ll have to if you want to change topics or content – don’t screw it up. Make copies just in case you do. And another thing, don’t come crying to us if the Jeopardy jingle doesn’t play. It all depends on what media player you’re using. Got all that?

To change to column headings on the game board, open DEFAULT.HTM in a web/text editor and change them. You may have to play around with font size and position, but it’s just like working in Microsoft Office at that point.

On my board, the used category numbers become red instead of disappearing. If you want to make them disappear, go into the properties for the DEFAULT.HTM file and change the color of used hyperlinks to the same color as the board. To get all hyperlinks back to yellow, go to your browser and clear the browsing history. They’ll pop right back.

You don’t need to modify anything else. All the .gif and .jpg files are the images imbedded on the board in the Q and A screens.

This is how I taught myself web editing and HTML code. If I make changes now, I go straight into the code itself. If you’re interested in learning that stuff, this is a great project to do it with. Just make sure you always have a clean original to fall back on. Make working copies of the entire folder and have at it.

I’ve developed more boards than I can remember, not just in math but also computers, geography and history. It can be a bit time consuming at first to come up with five categories and 25 questions arranged so that the harder ones are behind the bigger numbers.

I occasionally had students do it as a project, sometimes for extra credit. Assign them a category and get five or 10 good Q&A combos. I’ve had advanced students develop entire boards using this as a model.

When we started a new unit, I would choose categories and start the new board, adding QandA as I went. It actually goes pretty fast once you get a system down.

The biggest challenge is how to play the game, since obviously, you have more than three players. I tried teams, choral response but didn’t like it. I finally settled on raising hands and calling on students, limiting them to two questions each. Some would answer every one if they could. Others don’t want to answer at all. You’ll have to plan accordingly. It’s still fun for everyone.

This is a GREAT activity for Parent Night or Grandparent’s Day. It’s fun, interactive and gives a good overview of the material you’ll be covering. It blows them away.

I hope you have as much fun and success with this as I did.

Enjoy…Mister L

Calculator Spelling


Mister L

This is one of my favorites.  It’s one of those nifty little activities that belong in every math teacher’s bag of tricks.  The basic idea is to solve a math problem with a calculator, then turn the display upside down.  The correct answer should spell out a word. It’s easy to do, a lot of fun and the kids love it.  In addition to building keyboarding skills, it rolls in a number of other topics, such as place value, properties of zero and one, order of operations, exponents, parenthetical expressions, integers, spelling and vocabulary.  It all depends how creative you want to get with it.


I used calculator spelling questions for warm-ups, bonus questions and time fillers. I always kept a dozen or so on hand that I could whip on the board in a hurry. It lends itself well to round robin activities. It’s particularly good for those high energy days like the day after Halloween or the day before Christmas break when everybody is wired. This is typically a noisy, active session with lots of LOL and OMG.  In my sessions, the students always ended up talking to each other and I was ok with that as long as the work was getting done and they weren’t sharing answers.

This is simple to set up and there are a lot of web sites that cover it.  Here it is in a nutshell.

The digits 0-9 can all be used as a letter when turned upside down.

0 = o or O

1 = l or i or I (big I, Little i, little L)

2 = z or Z

3 = E

4 = h

5 = s or S

6 = G

7 = L

8 = B

9 = g

Calculator answer

A TI-34 display showing the problem worked. Turn it upside down and check the answer. It may not jump out right away, but if it takes more than a few seconds to interpret, something’s wrong. That’s a very cool self-checking feature of this exercise.

So the word BELL would be 8377.  But remember, that’s what it looks like upside down, so the answer to the problem has to be 7738.  Then it’s just a matter of inventing a math problem that equals 7738.  It can be as simple or complex as you want to make it.  This is easily tailored to individual or class levels. I taught grades 6, 7 and 8. I could use the same answers to get the same words but the problem to get there would be different.

A variation is to have a question with a two or three word answer, which requires the students to correctly interpret and separate the words.  For instance, the answer 71077345 turned upside down becomes 54377017 or ShELLOiL.

Another variation is to use parentheses to get your answer but leave them out of the problem.  The students then have to place the (   ) in the correct place to get the correct answer.  It raises the challenge level and is self-checking – very cool.

Be careful with leading zeroes.  Most displays drop them.  So 07734 ( 43770 – HeLLO) becomes 7734 (4377 – HeLL).  To fix it, include a decimal point to fix the zero in the answer.

Just turn it upside down and read/interpret the answer. Sometimes, it doesn’t jump out at you. Make them stay with it. At some point, they may have to evaluate whether they have the right numbers. That’s part of the drill.

So how many words are there?  I have no idea. Here’s a Word List I compiled. It’s actually a couple of lists I condensed into one document.  You can make any word plural by adding -s or -es to the end.  You can create a descriptive word by adding -ish at the end.  Also, don’t forget abbreviations, nicknames, acronyms and even short foreign words.

The variations and innovations you can do with this simple activity are almost limitless.  It’s not the kind of thing you can do all the time, but when pulled out of your bag of tricks, it can be most productive.

Here are some links to other related resources.

Calculator Spelling NCTM Standards (so you can show your principal when they ask why you aren’t teaching the test)

Calculator Spelling Exercise 1

Calculator Spelling Exercise 2

Sometimes on the exercises, students will come up with the right word just from the clue.  That’s good, but they still need to do the problem and write the solution.

It also goes much smoother if everyone uses the same kind of calculator. If you are fortunate enough to have classroom calculators, this is a good time to use them.  That way, you know the little quirks of the displays and functions and can plan accordingly.  It’s also easier to correct keyboarding mistakes and make learning points to the whole class if they have the same box.

If that’s not possible, then be prepared to answer student questions on “their” calculator. My standard response was “What exactly won’t it do?”  Or “Where are you getting stuck?”  Or I’ll watch them while they run through the problem again.

This is one looc tsop. ha ha ha

This is a good exercise for wringing out all those new calculators at the beginning of the year.  Better to be confused here than at the next standardized test.

Feel free to copy and/or use any of the posted or linked material.

Hey Count.  You need to get out more.  This is what happens when you grade papers all night and all weekend. You start talking backwards.

I hope it’s ton gnihctac.

hu ho  … LretsiM