The following is an excerpt from "Team Tips," a guide to using SideKeys in the classroom.


SideKeys offers an opportunity for students to blend new computer technology with an old familiar activity. Teachers have been creating competitive learning activities forever! Spelling Bees, Geography Challenges, Flash Cards, and Quiz Bowls, all require active, competitive participation. Some of these activities also involve cooperative interaction within a team. These dynamics generate enthusiasm, high energy and motivation to study. The combination of these reinforces learnings. This Lesson Plan is intended to provide one example of how SideKeys adds a new twist to a familiar activity.

Outcomes Expected:

   1. Students will review and/or practice factual learning materials that were previously introduced to them.
   2. Students will get to test their own understanding of the learning materials.
   3. Students will experience constructive teamwork.
   4. Students and teacher will have fun!

Materials Needed:

   1. A computer connected to a large screen television (allows for the entire class to view easily).
   2. A competitive teamwork activity software program on the computer, e.g. That's A Fact, Jack! ,or QuizWorks, or GeoBee Challenge. SideKeys installed on the computer and set up to run the teamwork activity.
   3. Transmitters with Inserts and Keys Defined for the activity.

Organizing Teams:

Divide the class into equal sized teams of 3-5 members each. Assign students to teams with a random process, e.g. count off from 1-6, with all #1's together, all #2's together, etc. or perhaps draw their team assignments out of a hat.

Note: In some activities you may wish to assign students to teams, thereby controlling the balance of the diversity of competencies and cultural differences across the teams.

Have the teams meet at assigned tables or an areas of the room.

Physical Arrangement:

The simplest and most orderly way to manage teams in the classroom is to keep them in chairs at their desks, with some physical separation between teams. (All students should be able to see the TV and other activities in the classroom.) In some cases you may wish to cluster with chairs only, without desks.

Teambuilding Activities:

Post a list of "Ground Rules for Teamwork", this might be a hard copy poster that you leave up or post whenever teams are formed in the classroom. The following are some suggestions for such a list, you may have some of your own to add:

   1. Listen carefully to understand others' ideas.
   2. Share your ideas with the team, ask for clarification.
   3. Make sure everyone is included in the discussions.
   4. Clarify the tasks, the rules, the time limits so that everyone has the same objectives and direction.
   5. If you have a question, ask your Teammates or the Teacher.

Review this list, clarify any questions or ideas about them. Students may even suggest some additions or modifications to this list.

Have Teams discuss this list of Ground Rules in their Teams. Any other Ground Rules that might be helpful for your team's success? Did your Team follow the Rules in the discussion you just had?

Have each team create a team Name and a team Cheer. The Names might be tied to the theme of the topic being studied, e.g. for a math competition, the teams might use mathematical terms in their Names.

Each Team in turn presents their team Name and Cheer to the entire class.

The entire class should repeat back the Team's Name and their Cheer, be careful about how loud this can get.

Competitive Activities:

The Directions of the specific Learning Activity should be explained and clarified for everyone, e.g. for QuizWorks:

   1. Three teams compete to answer each question.
   2. All questions are for 100 points.
   3. If you Buzz in and miss the question, you lose 100 points, and other teams have opportunity to answer that question.
   4. Questions are counted down to the last question, so that you always know how many questions remain in that Quiz.
   5. Winners are announced at the end of the Quiz.

In activities like QuizWorks, where only three teams compete at a time you may need to establish "Tag-Teams" or "Partner Teams:"

   1. These Partners share the activity, one plays the first half, the other plays the second half.
   2. The Partners also cheer for each other when not actively involved.
   3. Students can actually cheer quietly, still have fun and not disturb classrooms next door.

Give the Teams "Operating Guidelines" about how the Activity is Played.

Note: These Guidelines can be changed periodically, even during a Pause in the Activity, to provide some variety and to give students alternative experiences, e.g. for QuizWorks, or TFJ you can specify:

   1. What team gets to answer the Question:
      -- Sequential order, each team must take the next question
      -- Teams compete to Buzz-in first to see who gets to answer
   2. How they must handle the SideKeys Transmitter:
      -- rotate to a new member after each question
      -- set it in the center of the group, available for anyone to reach
   3. How the Team decides on their answer:
      -- the holder of the SideKeys decides, alone
      -- the holder of the SideKeys decides after hearing others' input
      -- the holder of the SideKeys polls the Team, majority rules

Teams compete to the end of the Activity, changing Operating Guidelines and sharing with their Tag-Team as directed by the Teacher.

Winners are recognized with appropriate rewards and everyone gets some acknowledgment for participating.

Teams discuss their experience, share with the class what was beneficial about this Activity, and suggest ideas for how to improve it next time.


Current Works provides this Lesson Plan for you and your students to be successful with our products. Please feel free to call us with suggestions, concerns, and most important-- your ideas. You the Teacher influence your students every day in the classroom, we encourage you to influence Current Works in providing tools that are useful and helpful to your profession.