Easter Trivia Day as multi-skill integration event and language platform to socialise by Barbara Malepsza
Surprising as it might seem, but the idea arrived after turning the last page of a riveting novel by L. Moriarty Big Little Lies (least to say that the novel was made into a brilliant nomination and award winning HBO series starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Shailene Woodley). As one of its synopsis goes, it “tells the tale of three mothers whose seemingly perfect lives unravel to the point of murder,” and me adding: “on the night of Pirriwee Public’s Trivia Night.” As the excitement over the unravelling plot finished and the pandemic world called to its reality, soon after the first COVID-19 case in Poland was officially reported on March 4th 2020, I decided to let myself engage for the benefit of my students in conjuring a trivia day. Easter was coming soon and not only did it seem a perfect time for Spring games, but it served a great deal of fun and absorbing engagement so necessary at that time.
To strike the iron while it was hot, I started to search more for the idea of trivia games online. It turned out that the theme got fairly many Google hits and there was a great deal of articles about not only places offering trivia events to go to (the lockdown was not so common yet) but also about sources one could use to even create own online games (an example of such a useful article can be read at https://www.timeout.com/usa/things-to-do/online-trivia-games-to-play-remotely). And so, instead of inviting friends to an online trivia evening, I began to browse through my home office resources and online materials that could come in handy as EFL resources.
It turned out that it was actually more convenient to organise such a language event online. Firstly, any student interested in joining could take part as there were no obstacles like getting to school in late afternoon or spare time to spend in between finished classes and the games opening hour; secondly, the games could be more varied and innovative with the abundance of online applications and computer tools one could use to this end; last but not least, although organising the complete event online at that time was quite a challenge, it spared the whole logistics concerning school-based location, with the advantage of all participants gathered in one MS Teams channel.
Why it is worth organising
Trivia games might serve a number of purposes. The most valuable ones are students’ fun combined with language learning. Their huge advantage is that a single occasion serves as a platform for skills integration where students practise smaller language bits (e.g. adverbs, adjectives, synonyms and antonyms, thematic vocabulary, word associations and other word relationships) and master both receptive and productive skills, the latter ones being naturally used when responding to questions, sharing opinions, expressing reactions or writing answers and comments in the channel chatroom or trivia answer sheets. As an example, the presented trivia day included Google forms quiz in which students not only solved language riddles, but also practised reading for the art gallery conundrum and listening to answer the questions about President Trump’s egg roll opening speech. A bonus advantage would be therefore incorporating authentic language sources into language learning. Another function a trivia day can fulfil is providing students with the opportunity to develop intercultural awareness by finding out about target language culture, its people, history, and traditions through digital artefacts, visual aids and symbols included in quizzes (it is well illustrated in the Easter Kahoot, the link to which is provided below). A trivia day is also a wonderful opportunity to meet together and, despite its distance form, it fills well an everyday social gap of interaction which most students experience these days. During lockdown, many of them miss everyday chats, joining for a club or café meeting together, and although trivia games cannot take place at school, students can at least join in for a social gathering in front of their laptops or PCs and enjoy their time together via engaging, stress-free activities and brain-stimulating exercises. Besides, why not encourage everyone to bring their favourite drink and snack with them in front of the computer and imagine it is almost as if somewhere outside their homes? As the saying goes: “home sweet home”, meaning it might be even more comfortable to meet virtually as everyone is free to do anything they like at any time. In addition, owing to the feeling of successfully accomplishing games or being first to answer individual questions, students get a motivational boost which is so necessary to give them when there is no face-to-face contact learning these days and the constant need of doing most of the learning solitarily might discourage some of them. All in all, it is also teachers who might have true joy and satisfaction when acting not as a teacher in pure terms but rather a trivia games organiser with invigorating roles to fulfil, when the rules and timing are not so strict, when those who participate are really willing to take part and eager to follow instructions and be the first to answer, and when they see smiling faces of their students, out of whom each and every one has their cameras on! Last but not least, in view of the currently obligatory system of distance education, it is good to have an idea in place for replacing bigger school events that used to be organised in school buildings with their online alternatives. It might actually turn out more convenient and simpler to gather everyone in one place for a given occasion, with no additional organisational costs incurred or other logistical hurdles to overcome.
Get things done
- Design the Easter (or any other occasion-themed) Trivia poster with all necessary information placed on it, address and deadline for entries in particular, the one used for these games is shown below. There are some really original and topic-varied free graphic resources available at https://pl.freepik.com/ or https://pixabay.com/pl/ . Get it posted on your organisation’s noticeboard or opening website in advance. When your list of participants is complete, make sure you upload all their names in the MS Teams channel which you create for your trivia event so no one has any problem with entering the meeting room on the opening day.
- Think what kind of riddles, games, word puzzles, and other brain teasers as well as online quiz applications you would like to use. There are plenty of them now, the more that the period in between March 2020 and today brought a plethora of really apt resources to light like Kahoot, Quizzlet, MS Forms, Google Forms, to name a few. With regard to materials, one can surely use paper resources with language games and puzzles but, as access to libraries is restricted these days, the online option is definitely more available and quicker to get access to. Examples of websites to use might be https://busyteacher.org/; https://www.onestopenglish.com/; http://a4esl.org/; https://en.islcollective.com/; https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/; https://www.eslprintables.com/ . Students do not need any really advanced or elaborate quizzes for trivia games; let us remember that trivia games are to serve the aim of not only learning new items, but also of revising and integrating different chunks of language, of having fun through using the language already known to students. Regardless of their age, most students would enjoy commonly available crosswords, words searches, word riddles, or proverbs to complete. In terms of questions about traditions, history, and other elements of culture, one might search for already existing quizzes in public domain like trivia games organised by schools, thematic Kahoots or Quizzlets or come up with own questions based on YouTube videos (as shown in the Easter Kahoot below and Google Forms quiz).
- Think what form you would like your games to take, be it one MS Teams channel created specifically for this need, separate MS Teams channel subgroups, or perhaps ClickMeeting or Zoom. Your final decision would also probably depend on how many students will be willing to participate – it might be a good idea to organise a contest comprising different quizzes within a set time limit, after which all participants’ points are summed up and the winner is announced. When this is the case, it is better to assign moderator roles to teachers or senior students who assist in running the event smoothly, so when students start sending their answers, there is a specific person responsible for checking them while another one supervises the ongoing games. In the example discussed here, the trivia day was organised as an integrational event for students just to join in and have some fun together, without a controlled competing element.
- Make a plan of activities to follow during your show. When your trivia games start, there will be lots of things to control simultaneously so it is really helpful to have all sheets and other necessary materials prepared in advance in one folder. Another thing to do is to check all links used in your trivia games beforehand to minimise any unexpected difficulties with accessing materials or watching videos. Finally, try all the tasks yourself or ask a colleague to help you run through a checklist to get prepared for any eventualities which may arise. As with any technology, some unexpected things might happen here but at least you will not have a reason to panic by knowing how to respond to a problem when such occurs.
Easter Trivia Games as case study
The Easter Trivia Day discussed in this article was organised in the MS Teams channel specifically designated for the event within a single room. There was no competition mode leading to choosing an individual winner; the aim was rather to integrate, meet together, and practise English through fun activities revolving mainly around Easter and Spring themes.
The games included the following:
Both Kahoot and Google Forms did a great job. Owing to their many practical functions, these are really attractive and user-friendly applications for making your trivia games engaging and varied by:
- Egg hunt (Figure 2)
- Spring and Easter word search (Figure 3. Word search puzzle – depending on students’ level, word prompts might be deleted or left as in here)
- Easter Kahoot (Figure 4)
- Easter Google Forms Quiz (Figure 5)
- Possibility in both to upload images and video links
- Google Forms offering answer options matching individual needs, e.g. multiple choice grid; checkbox grid; T/F mode, simple multiple choice mode; short answer;
- Kahoot offering different play modes, individual nickname choices, lounge music, adjusting time settings
Trivia games might be exploited to celebrate any festivity or occasion from Spring time, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, end-of-school time, to start-of-year integrational events for classrooms or higher education student faculty groups.
They might take a form of a casual social meeting without any elements of controlled competition or the other way round. Choosing the second option would probably involve a bit more planning ahead in terms of assigning jury roles, preparing participant’s answer sheets, teacher’s answer sheets, and also engaging at least one more teacher or senior student to help with participants’ answer marking.
Depending on your final choice regarding competition, instead of running the party in one general MS Teams channel, participants might also be divided into groups working in separate group rooms of the channel. This option, however, requires more organisational effort as the event structure would require more moderators responsible for supervising the flow of activities like accessing materials, activity timing, and participants.
Finally, it could also be students who would take part in preparing individual simple crosswords, word searches, and specific occasion-related riddles. Depending on students’ level of language, the teacher could let them search independently within set task groups for specific items or provide them with some helpful websites to use. Although a bit more challenging, this alternative has a compelling advantage of students’ project work by which means they not only develop team work skills and autonomy but also get motivated by contributing to the final shape of the event.
If you feel like having some fun, try the Easter Kahoot at:
(you can also access it by searching for Easter in the Kahoot search engine – the created version is for public viewing)
or the Google Forms Easter Trivia quiz at:
https://www.bigactivities.com/ (word search puzzle)
http://dudolf.com/ (Egg hunt graphic)
[access: October 5 2020]
Johnston, O. (2004). Puzzle Time 4. England: Pearson Education Limited, pp. 12; 28-29; 66; 69
Moriarty, L. (2014). Big Little Lies. Great Britain: Penguin Publishing
An academic lecturer at Jan Amos Komensky State School of Higher Vocational Education in Leszno (Wielkopolskie Voivodeship), where she has been teaching ESP and subjects of the English Studies Faculty at the Institute of Applied Linguistics for over ten years, with previous six-year teaching experience in a local secondary school. A translator of academic and specialist texts, legal translation being her personal favourite, and an interpreter practising at state law enforcement institutions. A sworn translator of the English language and an ordinary member of the Polish Society of Sworn and Specialized Translators.