Study Skill O’ The Week: Dingers!


Back in the 20th century, when I was in high school, I had this social studies teacher who would give away all the test answers the day before the test in a game called “Dingers.” We would line up in two groups and when it was your turn, you sat face to face with a classmate, game-show style, and in between you was one of those Dinger things that you ring for service. He would read out the question and whoever got their hand practically punctured by the other person’s hand slapping on top of yours slapping on top of the Dinger got to answer the question and earn points for the team. There was no delicate plucking of the bell, as pictured. Years later, I realized he wasn’t giving away the answers, he was teaching us how to study for the test. Curses! Tricked into learning again! So with full props to my 10th grade social studies teacher, here is the game, modified for the 21st Century.

1) Obtain a Staples “That Was Easy!” button. In today’s litigious world, one wants to avoid the “How did my son puncture his hand again?” conversation. The button is nice and soft, and has the added bonus of saying, “That Was Easy!” every time you push it.*

2) Line people up, Family Feud style, with half the class in a line and half the class in another. The two people in the front of the line sit down at a table, place their thumbs under the table and 4 fingers on the table to have an equal start.

3) Teacher reads out a question and whoever hits the “That Was Easy!” button gets to guess. If the person gets it right, they get 2 points: one point for getting it right, and one point for being correct that it was indeed “Easy.” If the person gets it wrong, the other team automatically gets 1 point because the other team misjudged the difficulty of the question.**

4) At this point, the other team can accept the 1 point and walk away, or choose to “steal” for an additional point by hitting the “Easy” button and getting it correct. If they get it wrong, they walk away with zero points.

5) Please expect a classroom full of students screaming, “It’s easy! It’s easy! Do it! Dude!” when there is a stealing opportunity. So if you are opposed to that, set up a ground rule in the beginning that teams lose points if someone yells out. I think the yelling out is kind of fun for them, but everyone has their own tolerance for noise.

6) Also, if you have a particularly aggressive student who you feel cannot handle the controlled slapping of button, put him/her in charge of keeping points on the whiteboard or reading the questions with you.

7) If your test questions are better in written form (say, like doing a math problem) then you can have two baby whiteboards and dry erase markers at the Dingers station and they can work out the problem on their individual boards, then hit the Easy button.

8) Try it out, and let me know if “That was Easy!”

*So annoying after a while. Kids of all ages love it though. Also, I do not endorse any particular office supply store. But if Staples wants to throw me a kick-back, feel free!

** This is in place so that our more impulsive friends (read: ADHD, those with Executive Functioning deficits) can evaluate the difficulty of task first, which is an important study skill. We’ve all seen the kid who rushes through something, thinking it’s easy, and does it all wrong. This is a good inhibition (“stop and think”) practice for test taking.

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