Aug 1-8, 2006: Best Practices for the Best Practices

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Aug 1-8, 2006: Best Practices for the Best Practices

Postby First Chairman » Sat Jul 08, 2006 12:59 pm

The second PACE Special Discussion will focus on effective techniques to help students (and coaches) make their practice sessions more effective. This discussion will take place online between August 1 and August 8.

Preliminary Questions
Please elaborate upon any "Do" questions with "How".

1) Describe a typical practice. How often do you meet during the week, and for how long?

2) Do students actually study? Do students keep a notebook, and who reviews the notebook?

3) How do you develop a team? What is your ideal "team"?

4) How much do your practices focus on individual tossup play versus team bonus/handout play?

5) Do you set performance incentives or milestones (or a "kangaroo court" for negative performance)?

6) How do you prepare high school players for math (calculation) questions?

7) How do you prepare students for broadcast tournaments vs. invitational/circuit competitions vs. national events?

8) Do students write questions? How many questions are they expected to write weekly/monthly, and who selects the topics?

9) How do teach students stress management during a game or a tournament?

10) Some broadcast formats also include a section of the game in which there is one-on-one student matchups (North Carolina Public Library QB as one). Would you like to see more "singles" or "doubles" play as opposed to standard 4- or 5-person team play? How do you coach in those situations?

11) For those teams that do, how do you incorporate Knowledge Master Open or chat/online game play (Questions Unlimited QuizNet) into your practices?
Last edited by First Chairman on Mon Sep 04, 2006 9:58 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby First Chairman » Tue Aug 01, 2006 11:41 pm

Well, the Special Discussion is open... If you want me to help edit your post after you submit, please let me know. Participants can ask questions, as long as you add to the numbers that I have posted so far.
Last edited by First Chairman on Thu Aug 03, 2006 9:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby in on these shenanigans » Wed Aug 02, 2006 1:14 am

1) Winnebago has usually had one 2-hour practice per week, held directly after school. We're hoping to bolster this this year by adding a 45-90 minute study session during the school's mandatory study hall on Thursday.

The 2 hour has always consisted of playing packets that apply to the next format we're playing (there's a surprising difference between conference, the Saturday tournaments, and IHSA state series). If we don't have a lot of good packets, we'd watch Jeopardy! for the last half-hour.

2) We haven't used notebooks to study from...yet. It's one of our ideas this year to keep a single notebook and teach on Thursday what we didn't know on Monday. We haven't decided just how to do it yet, but it's a plan.

3) We haven't had the luxury of having too many players until possibly this year. This year we have 2 seniors, one of which will captain, and one of which will possibly consistently start. We then have a junior math specialist, junior lit specialist, junior s.s. specialist, and two more juniors.

Basically, with the 5 player starting lineup Illinois gets, the ideal team will have probably a 4 player cornerstone (senior/senior/math junior/lit junior) and a rotation based on what questions are coming up of the other, probably heavy on the s.s. specialist. The math and the s.s. players haven't played quizbowl before, so we'll be figuring it out as we go.

4) No handouts in Illinois, so that's out of the picture...I'd guess we'd focus on individual tossup play because we have new players who will be key to our success. Then again, we play packets, so it's a little of both.

5) We haven't in the past, though it may change this year. If it does, I have no idea how :)

6) Illinois = 1/5 math. I'm tutoring three of the players in broad Illinois math, and I'm doing one-on-one tutoring in all varieties of math with the junior specialist. Illinois has two other academic competitions, Math Team and WYSE team (which is 1/7th math), and the junior has played well at both of those, which led to our recruitment for QB. I'm tutoring him in all three.

7) Winnebago only has one basic variety, the Illinois format of tossup-bonus. As the tournaments vary, we practice previous packets from the tournament to get accustomed to the questions, though there isn't much discrepancy from tournament to tournament. Really, the biggest change we have is early-year tournaments that use pyramidal questions to mid- to late year tournaments that are buzzer speed.

8) This year, we are having students write questions. It will be in their speciality field, and we don't really have a system in place yet to determine quotas.

9) This is an interesting one...Illinois format isn't as frantic, per se, as NAQT or other style of question. In fact, we have to worry less about stress management and more about focus, as it takes 10 seconds to read the question, 10 seconds to prepare for the bonus, 15 seconds to read the bonus, 30 seconds to confer the bonus, 5 seconds to answer, 10 seconds to wait for the next tossup, and it can REALLY drag. Also, it's 30 seconds of dead time in computation for math, and 10 seconds of dead time for a tossup that isn't answered. A 20 question game honestly lasts 45 minutes in Illinois. After playing NAQT format last year, it was impossible to switch back.

So how to teach focus? Well, we worry quite a bit about making sure you're at least listening to the question, and on math, everyone at least acts like they know what's going on, half as intimidation to the other team (oh wow, that sophomore is trying to do calculus!...it never actually works :) ), half as staying focused.

10) I've always loved solo play (New Trier Scobol Solo is the best tournament I've ever attended, with Loyola Ultima and UIUC Earlybird battling for second), and the doubles play is also a good idea. Eric Hilleman's Deep Bench format rules seem like a good idea to do this.

For both singles and doubles, I look at the question distribution (Scobol Solo is nice about this part) and figure out what categories suit the strengths of the players.
In Solo, I figure out what categories should be a good chance of getting the question, then what ones are borderline. Once I have 40% of the categories accounted for, study in these (of course, my only experience in this is NT Solo, so the studying is simply reading the older Solo packets...makes it easy to find material)
In doubles, I would pair players with opposite strengths (obviously), only I would settle on 75% on the categories accounted for. Iif it were Illinois format, I would prefer to only have one strong math player per team. Same study strategy here. I would also let them practice together to get a feel on how to play it...Solo, not so much practice required as learning from past packets. You should know how you play.

11) KMO is only practiced for in the week leading up to KMO. Because it is so different from what we normally do, we don't put so much effort into it until it arrives.

I'd like to add an additional question or two, if possible...

12) For teams with a B-team...How often do you cycle players between A and B teams? Are practices seperated between A and B teams? Do you have A vs. B team practice?

[PS: The moderator came in and highlighted this question.]
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Postby David Riley » Wed Aug 02, 2006 10:50 am

1) We meet twice a week (1 for fr/so, 1 for varsity) for two hours each. Next year, we will meet 2 days a week per each. One practice will be for those who want to be competitive and will include study sessions. The other will be for those who want to do it just for fun and will include more mock matches. The competitive people will be expected to attend both practices.

2) We will begin this next year in order to raise badly needed cultural literacy. Some students do study and review on their own without any prompting from me.

3) Hard to say as I've tried several approaches. My latest is to play as many mock matches and actual tournaments as possible toward a "practice makes perfect ideal" but see cultural literacy above.

4) No special attention here as yet.

5) Occasionally I've tried shame points when I've had no response to knowledge that I think they should know (again, see cultural literacy above).

6) Illinois emphasises math more than any other state, to my knowledge. I'm usually fortunate enough to have at least one math expert on my team, but except for two players in the recent past, most of these experts have outright refused to study anything else. I kept them on the team because their math expertise was valuable in Illinois format, but I never took them to an NAQT or other college format tournaments because that expertise (at least at that time) was next to worthless. As part of the study sessions next year, I hope to have a math teacher (guest expert?) teach "quiz bowl math" to the entire team.

7)n/a

8) No, though this might be worth trying.

9) I basaically try to instill the maxim "never let them see you sweat".
That is, keep cool at all costs.

10) n/a

11) We used to play KMO but I stopped doing so because the Type A personalities that I traditiionally have had on my team could never reach a consensus.

12) re B teams per Styxman: Even if you are honest about it, Illinois has this entrenched idea that your B team should always be your weakest team. I no longer have B teams at the Varsity level because the B team players never tried to improve. And Illinois is also dead set against C, D, etc. teams unless the host school needs to fill an emergency spot at a tournament.
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Postby BuzzerZen » Wed Aug 02, 2006 10:22 pm

1. At TJ, we practice after school twice a week (ideally) for two hours, and usually once or twice a week during our activities period for 45 minutes. Practice consists exclusively of reading questions and buzzing in on them--the best way to practice for quizbowl is to play quizbowl.

2. Our philosophy has always been that learning should be for its own sake, with quizbowl success being a side benifit. That being said, some of our players will ask immediately during practice about a topic that's new to them, and one in particular enjoys keeping full accounts of every round of a tournament. Our question archives contain some list material, but list-studying isn't really helpful for Good Quizbowl, and we encourage the acquisition of real knowledge.

3. Our regular A-team this past year was mostly a matter of just knowing who the best players were, with people filling in holes in the A-team based on who we were replacing and what teams needed experienced captains. In general, the co-captains form teams based on (1) who's showing up this weekend, (2) who's a good captain, (3) who's good, (4) approximate subject area balance. More of a mojo-based system than anything else.

4. We just read through packets, so there's not really any focusing in that regard.

5. Nope.

6. We don't really do that. Our strategy in the past was "Neel and Dan are getting math questions. Let's leave it at that."

7. For TV, we read the ever-popular Patrick's Press, and usually do TV Team vs. everyone for a while with negs counting double for the TV team. Everything else is just reading packets with varying intensity of focus.

8. As tournament director, I require questions to be written by all returning members of the team. The questions are written primarily to get our January tournament to work as opposed to any practice motive, but they're good to hear. Actually getting people to show up with questions can be a bit of a chore, to put it mildly...

11. We don't practice for KMO at all -- we just go over the rules and our protocol for shouting answers (We use the NATO phonetic alphabet) before we start.

12. We generally just split the group into two teams of more or less equal strength, and mix things up every round or two. Occasionally we will do A Team vs. the rest.
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Postby Strongside » Wed Aug 02, 2006 10:53 pm

At my high school Mounds Park Academy (Minnesota) this is what we did last season.

1 Once or twice a week for an hour to an hour and a half after school from early October to Mid February and then a few week spring practices to prepare for Nationals. We didn't practice on days we didn't have school.

2 I studied on my own sometimes. We didn't keep "a notebook" but I made some notes and lists.

3 I guess just practicing and going to meets.

4 We did mainly individual tossup play. Mainly Patrick's Press and some NAQT. We also used the misnomer Isaac Asimov Super Quiz. No handouts.

5 I had some goals and milestones such as making the state tournament and qualifying for the playoffs at NAQT nationals.

6 Our coach was a math teacher so sometimes he'd teach us formulas and strategies. I answered most of the math questions in comparison to my teammates.

7 No specific preparation.

8 No.

9 Nothing specific.

10 I wouldn't mind one on one or two on two. I played solo at a couple of tournaments because I couldn't get anyone to come. It was fun.

11 We did Knowledge Master Open but didn't do any special preparation and didn't take it too seriously.

12 No B team

We were pretty laid back but what we did must have worked okay since we got 10th at NAQT Nationals which was a surprise and involved some luck. Our coach didn't even think we would make the playoffs.
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Postby quizbowllee » Wed Aug 02, 2006 11:45 pm

1) Describe a typical practice. How often do you meet during the week, and for how long?

Until this year, we had a class period in which to practice... But, budget problems caused us to lose that luxury this year. I've yet to see how that's going to affect us. I know that we will practice after school a few days a week and will meet during our weekly 45-minute "activity" period.

2) Do students actually study? Do students keep a notebook, and who reviews the notebook?

I require the students to keep a notebook. Some do a lot more than others. I have one student who actually numbers his notes and can often tell me he got a tossup "Because of note #453" or something along those lines. I also keep a notebook myself of things that the team misses. I make sure to end practices by going over everything that they missed during the practice. I also begin practices by going over the things that they missed during the last practice.

3) How do you develop a team? What is your ideal "team"?

I'm not sure what "develop a team" means in this regard.... My ideal team is one that works well together, one whose individual members can put egos and MVP awards aside for the betterment of the team, and one whose collective knowledge base has as few holes in it as possible.

4) How much do your practices focus on individual tossup play versus team bonus/handout play?

We almost always play rounds and keep score. I sometimes do straight tossups, but I've found that the team loses focus. They like to compete and they like to win, so I give them what they want at practice.

5) Do you set performance incentives or milestones (or a "kangaroo court" for negative performance)?

We have a board that has the "Top Scores" at practice for each individual format, along with the dates that these scores were made. The kids love going into the home stress of a practice round, looking at the board, and realizing that they are "within reach" of the record.

6) How do you prepare high school players for math (calculation) questions?

I pray that there as few math questions as possible. When the moderator says "pencil and paper ready" I let out a string of expletives under my breath, grit my teeth, and hope for a miracle.

7) How do you prepare students for broadcast tournaments vs. invitational/circuit competitions vs. national events?

We have no broadcast tournaments....

8) Do students write questions? How many questions are they expected to write weekly/monthly, and who selects the topics?

I've tried to make them write questions in the past with mixed results... I'll probably try again now that they are a bit older.

9) How do teach students stress management during a game or a tournament?

I do different things. I have an advantage over many coaches in that I actually played this game. I know very well what it feels like to go into the last question of a championship match down by 5 points. I often tell stories (ad nauseum) about my own playing experiences.

10) Some broadcast formats also include a section of the game in which there is one-on-one student matchups (North Carolina Public Library QB as one). Would you like to see more "singles" or "doubles" play as opposed to standard 4- or 5-person team play? How do you coach in those situations?

There are no singles tournaments around here. I don't think I would encourage that. I have a hard enough time with egos without worrying about a singles tournament.

11) For those teams that do, how do you incorporate Knowledge Master Open or chat/online game play (Questions Unlimited QuizNet) into your practices?

We do KMO for one reason only: It gets us out of class. We take absolutely no stock in it at all. Don't get me wrong, if we ever won it, we'd tell the local papers, etc. But, for the most part, it's just for us to have fun. I'm really not a big fan of the KMO.

12) A teams and B teams...

So far, I have done little or no switching between "A" and "B" simply because the weakest player on the "A" team has been monumentally better than the best player on the "B" team. That's changing quickly, though. I will likely do some experimenting this year.

Most of the time in practice, A plays B. 95% of the time, "A" beats "B" by an exponential margin. 4% of the time, it's relatively close. 1% of the time, "B" wins.
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Postby jrbarry » Wed Aug 02, 2006 11:55 pm

1) We practice two days a week after school. One practice is 1.5 hours long and the secoind one is 2 hours long because it includes a quiz.

2) Yes, some more than others. Each player keeps his/her notes as she/he sees fit. Every player must take notes during all practices and between matches at tournaments as well. I rarely look at any player's notes. Players who want to be champions study.

3) How do you develop a team? What is your ideal "team"? My team is divided into majors and minors. I am looking for 4 kids in each class (10th, 11th, 12th) who will study consistently over 3-4 years, accumulate as much knowledge as possible, and make thre Academic Team one of their top extracurricular priorities.

4) 90% tossup play.

5) I set GOALS and we work toward those goals. I can be quite negative at times.

6) I don't. But my assistant now is a math teacher and has helped soem of my kids with certain calculations.

7) Our chief goal is to win our state championship. All other goals are secondary. Our televised game is a joke, but we do practice somewhat for it. Current events is a major focus for that tournament. We practice for Nationals (NAQT) just like we practice all year long. We generally use NAQT questions in our practices all year long. We NEVER run timed matches with "spewing" reading of questions like NAQT Nationals.

8) NO! I have used that strategy before and it never helped even one player in the 10 years I used it.

9) I teach my players ot play business-like. No highs or lows and no criticizing fellow players. No hoopala. I rarely address stress management except to encourage kids who get down.

10) I do not care for any one-on-one type deals.

11) We do not participate in those competitions.

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Postby DrakeRQB » Thu Aug 03, 2006 12:16 am

1) We practice twice a week for 90 minutes after school.

2) We're going to start requiring notebooks this year. We give the kids study sheets and some of them study pretty intensely while others just look over them from time to time. We're starting quizzes this year too, so hopefully that will encourage the studying.

3) The ideal team has a good grip on the three main QB areas (lit, social studies, science), and can pick up most of the trash subjects. We try to get everyone a general base of knowledge in all subjects, then some are naturally more talented in some subjects than others.

4) We probably split 60/40 between tossups and bonuses.

5) We've never done anything like this, except if we make Final 4 at a tournament, Wendy's frosties are on me on the way home. :o)

6) If they can do math, that's great. Because I don't know crap about it. We're lucky to have two or three kids on the team right now who are math assassins.

7) For regular competitions we practice on a sample set of that format if we have one the Friday before the tournament. For NC's Brain Game, we watch previous semesters' tapes of our performances so the kids can see the rules and types of questions to be asked.

8) They're writing the questions for our fall tournament right now. About once a month the kids write questions and then ask them in practice.

9) I'll echo what Lee said above - since I played, I can tell them stories about pressure situations I'd been in and how I dealt. Most of our players have been in so many close games over the last couple of years that it's pretty easy for them to stay cool.

10) N.C. Public Library format sucks out loud, but a singles toss-up tournament is something that interests me (Saint Mary's is planning one for this year). Sometimes we actually practice in doubles to break the monotony and it's interesting because the kids have to have a wider base of knowledge. It's pretty fun.

11) We practice KMO questions for the week or two leading up to the event day.

12) Our A and B teams are fairly well set. We have an unwritten depth chart of students, and as long as the top 4 are all able to go to a tournament, that's it. If one can't make it, we go down to #5. We shuffle teams a lot more in practice to make sure that everyone is able to work with everyone else on the team in the event they end up on the same team at a tournament.
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Postby bleung » Thu Aug 03, 2006 2:03 am

1) Describe a typical practice. How often do you meet during the week, and for how long?

We're most likely going to start having weekend meetings as well, but last year's meetings were held once a week for about an hour and fifteen minutes.

2) Do students actually study? Do students keep a notebook, and who reviews the notebook?

Sometimes we study, but no one has a notebook. Hmm, we're definitely going to have to take qb more seriously this year.

3) How do you develop a team? What is your ideal "team"?

Practice, I guess.

4) How much do your practices focus on individual tossup play versus team bonus/handout play?

California is basically all NAQT, so we just play toss-up/bonus format with Stanford archive packets.

5) Do you set performance incentives or milestones (or a "kangaroo court" for negative performance)?

Not really, though I did tell myself as a sophomore that I would power at least one chess tossup...and then I missed power by a few words on an en passant question

6) How do you prepare high school players for math (calculation) questions?

As our team's math guy, I sometimes do practice problems from IIC prep books and any other pre-calc level stuff I can get my hands on. Plus we practice with math questions during Science Bowl meetings, so I guess that helps.

(Still, computation questions have no place in qb/sb)

7) How do you prepare students for broadcast tournaments vs. invitational/circuit competitions vs. national events?

We don't have broadcast tournaments.

8) Do students write questions? How many questions are they expected to write weekly/monthly, and who selects the topics?

No...if students need to write a question to get a concept to stick, said concept probably won't stick.

9) How do teach students stress management during a game or a tournament?

We never really pay attention to this...though nerves are a big problem for us (especially me).

10) Some broadcast formats also include a section of the game in which there is one-on-one student matchups (North Carolina Public Library QB as one). Would you like to see more "singles" or "doubles" play as opposed to standard 4- or 5-person team play? How do you coach in those situations?

Yeah, it should be neat.

11) For those teams that do, how do you incorporate Knowledge Master Open or chat/online game play (Questions Unlimited QuizNet) into your practices?

N/A

12) For teams with a B-team...How often do you cycle players between A and B teams? Are practices seperated between A and B teams? Do you have A vs. B team practice?

We mix up teams during practice. For tournaments, A team has always had perfect attendance (except for our #2 player ditching HSNCT :(), so there's not much cycling.
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Postby Chico the Rainmaker » Thu Aug 03, 2006 2:50 am

1) We had a daily class for Academic Decathlon that covered Sci Bowl, Oceans Bowl, and Quiz Bowl. So, if you were a quiz-only player like me, you practiced 5 days a week for 50 minutes a day or so.

2) Well, I studied. Our lit guy studied. Nobody else did. A team members are expected to do some studying, but it's not required or expected of anyone else. However, I think our coach is going to be quizzing the class on things he feels they should know next year, so I guess now everyone will study (since the class counts for a grade).

3) Practice together, I guess. Ideally, hang out outside of school for a little bit, but that's asking a lot. An ideal team, to me, is one where everyone is on the same wavelength and there are no topics which nobody knows.

4) We play regular rounds on NAQT tossups/bonuses (bonuses?) everyday. Score is kept as if it were a tournament game.

5) No. Except that if you do well you'll be on a better team, obviously. That should be enough, I'd think.

6) Well...we take math at school and that seems to serve us well enough. There's no quizbowl-related math preparation.

7) No broadcast tourneys.

8) No.

9) It's not taught. Two of our members of last year's A Team were also on Sci and Ocean A though, so they experienced the pressure of those national competitions before quiz bowl nats.

10) Sure. The more choices the better.

11) N/A

12) Our A and B teams are pretty much set by november or december, when we have our first tournament. I suppose if someone on A underperformed constantly, he/she would be dropped to B and likewise for someone on B to C. We always practice A vs. B and then the winner of that vs. C. Before the teams are set, the teams are mixed around a bit. I should add that since Science Bowl regionals and nationals and Ocean Sci Bowl regionals and nationals are before quiz nationals, the players who are on multiple teams practice with the team that has a competition coming up the nearest, so half of A team was usually not playing quiz until a week or so before a tournament.
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Postby Captain Sinico » Thu Aug 03, 2006 1:52 pm

jrbarry wrote:Our chief goal is to win our state championship. All other goals are secondary. Our televised game is a joke, but we do practice somewhat for it. Current events is a major focus for that tournament. We practice for Nationals (NAQT) just like we practice all year long. We generally use NAQT questions in our practices all year long. We NEVER run timed matches with "spewing" reading of questions like NAQT Nationals.

Doesn't that leave you at a needless disadvantage, though, given that you know you're going to encounter timed games and (apparently) faster reading than you're used to at HSNCT? To me, it's more important to be as prepared as I can be than grind whatever ideological axe I might have in practice. Hell, I've even practiced for CBI.

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Postby Yellow-throated Honeyeater » Thu Aug 03, 2006 3:39 pm

1) We meet about once a week for 2+ hours. We do tossups pretty much the entire time. We usually (but not always) are in two rooms--one for varsity and one for frosh/soph.

2) Students get handouts at most practices--often author and artist lists. A few students study, but we don't keep track of it.

3) Teams develop themselves generally. Scholastic Bowl students generally get along. An ideal team encourages each other to get better and has a variety of strengths.

4) We focus almost entirely on individual play. The exceptions are for new players, for Ultima (a tournament we play at the beginning of each year which has a Panasonic format), and a little bit for nationals.

5) We keep track of individual tossups and announce them two or three times per year. We don't have a kangaroo court, but the student on this forum who claimed that a clause came from the 9th Article of the Constitution will continue to hear about it. Depending on the circumstances, a student who buzzes in early on a rebound often gets taken out of the match.

6) I don't do much in this area--we typically have a student or two from the Math Team who does very well without my help. Because it is my area, I do talk to the math types about problems that come up in matches, especially when there is a shortcut that didn't get used.

7) If an event is important, you practice on questions similar to what will be used. I sometimes make exceptions by not practicing on horrible questions even though I know we are going to a tournament with horrible questions. We may lose the tournament, but we will win the war.

8) No. Two of my students are writing questions professionally this year, and they wrote questions for our own tournament last year, but that is not the norm. I am thrilled that they are doing it, though.

9) One thing that's important is to tell students going into a tournament that anything can happen, so they'll just have to deal with it accordingly. I also tell them that in the long run, they will win more if they treat every question the same. If a stressful/exciting moment does come up, we talk about it afterwards. In general, my students handle pressure better than I do.

10) I have no preferences or specific strategies here.

11) We don't.

12) We cycle. It depends on the students. We usually only practice A vs B when preparing for State or Nationals. Sometimes a coach will join the B Team so that the A Team can get the experience of playing together against good competition.

ID Wrote:
Hell, I've even practiced for CBI.


Many years ago, I started a petition stating that my team would not practice on old IHSA questions because they were so terrible and that we would help in any way possible to find new writers. About 45 teams signed. So, in at least one instance, I put sanity above winning.

I have to admit that I pick my battles. After hearing IHSA Regional questions this year (where the first word of a Crime And Punishment tossup was Raskolnikov), I put the pyramid questions away for two weeks to prepare for IHSA Sectionals and State.

Each coach has his/her own issues. I have no trouble with the moderators and general format of NAQT, so that's one battle that I would never think about starting.
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Postby DumbJaques » Thu Aug 03, 2006 3:45 pm

It seems like a lot of people are expressing (as response to "do kids write questions") "No, why in the world would you ever do that?"

I understand that some coaches (evidently, some very good and experienced coaches like Mr. Barry) have had neutral or negative results in the past. However, I would like to put forward that there's much more of an emphasis on good questions among high school players right now than there used to be. When people complain about crappy questions and espouse pyramidals, they are usually current high school or college players. It is much rarer to see a high school player come out and talk about how much he hates NAQT than it is for him to talk about how much he hates his crappy local format. If anyone is against having kids write questions because they don't think it offers an upside, I would dispute that tremendously, but it seems like most of the coaches who are against kids writing questions just don't think they can handle it. If a coach can teach a kid how to write a good question, can do 20 minutes of web research about question writing guidelines, then the kid will write a good question. Not now, not a month or two from now, sometimes not even until a year or so from now. But when we're talking about a new player becoming a great player, those aren't parameters anyone seems to have a problem with.
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Postby Captain Sinico » Thu Aug 03, 2006 5:22 pm

ReinsteinD wrote:Many years ago, I started a petition stating that my team would not practice on old IHSA questions because they were so terrible and that we would help in any way possible to find new writers. About 45 teams signed. So, in at least one instance, I put sanity above winning.
...
Each coach has his/her own issues. I have no trouble with the moderators and general format of NAQT, so that's one battle that I would never think about starting.

I'm far from discouraging people from taking meaningful actions to try to change things about the game for the better; it would seem that that is precisely what you did. You assembled a large number of teams to protest how much the questions sucked.
Conversely, if you'd just decided to unilaterally stop your team practicing on old IHSA questions knowing full well you'd be hearing the same kind of questions at IHSA, you'd have neither taken any meaningful action to address what you think is wrong (to wit, that the questions are bad) nor helped your team to win given the constraints that you'd implicitly accepted by not really trying to change the situation. An action like that I neither understand nor encourage.

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Postby Yellow-throated Honeyeater » Thu Aug 03, 2006 5:46 pm

Mike--
There have been times when I have decided to practice on good questions even though they make us slightly less competitive and they are not a part of some movement.

I want students to have a positive academic experience at practices in addition to preparing for meets, so we spend the vast majority of practice time one questions we like. I'm not criticizing anybody who spends some time practicing for CBI--I have done the equivalent. I'm just stating that, like I think you do, we spend more time preparing for meets we like because those are the meets we like preparing for. We spend less time preparing for meets we are less excited about because we don't enjoy preparing for them.
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Postby jrbarry » Thu Aug 03, 2006 11:02 pm

I.D.

I cannot mimmick "spewing" as reading, so I do not attempt that.
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Postby thepowerofche » Thu Aug 03, 2006 11:17 pm

ImmaculateDeception wrote:
jrbarry wrote:Our chief goal is to win our state championship. All other goals are secondary. Our televised game is a joke, but we do practice somewhat for it. Current events is a major focus for that tournament. We practice for Nationals (NAQT) just like we practice all year long. We generally use NAQT questions in our practices all year long. We NEVER run timed matches with "spewing" reading of questions like NAQT Nationals.

Doesn't that leave you at a needless disadvantage, though, given that you know you're going to encounter timed games and (apparently) faster reading than you're used to at HSNCT? To me, it's more important to be as prepared as I can be than grind whatever ideological axe I might have in practice. Hell, I've even practiced for CBI.

MaS


It doesn't matter, we always have at least one former policy debater on the team who gets bored during the gaps between words that the NAQT HSNCT moderaters needlessly include when they're reading. Shameful.
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Re: OPEN until 8/8: Best Practices for the Best Practices

Postby rchschem » Fri Aug 04, 2006 8:27 am

1) Describe a typical practice.

We meet 2x/week, usually 75 minutes.

2) Do students actually study?

Yes. We provide lists and give weekly quizzes, whose results we post. This fall we'll start having players present short lectures on topics and presenting their own lists.

3) How do you develop a team? What is your ideal "team"?

4 Will Schultzes. But seriously, we try to recruit 9th/10th graders and build them. We use the local TV show (9th/10th only) as a way of developing a farm team. We have no "ideal" as such of a team; we do try to balance coverage strengths, though, and we do this by rotating players or encouraging them to take up specialties in the short areas.

4) How much do your practices focus on individual tossup play versus team bonus/handout play?

Last year, we did straight TU/bonus play (when we weren't quizzing) nearly the entire year. This bored some players but built others. The hard part was keeping kids interested in coming. We tried many different ways of arranging teams; none really worked well. We'll keep experimenting.

5) Do you set performance incentives or milestones (or a "kangaroo court" for negative performance)?

We post weekly and cumulative quiz scores as well as TU records from practice play. We also have begun charting negs as well.

6) How do you prepare high school players for math (calculation) questions?

We don't. This is folly, and frankly, rarely germane in the circles we travel. I'd rather cover other areas and get an additional tossup somewhere else than spend time working on math calculations.

7) How do you prepare students for broadcast tournaments vs. invitational/circuit competitions vs. national events?

Our TV show is pretty easy to prepare for; it comes down to speed, which is hard to develop in new players. For nationals, we play nationals sets from previous years on shorter buzz-in times. For individual tourneys, we try to look at packets from that tournament just to get comfy with the format, but usually we stick to our regular practice sets.

8) Do students write questions? How many questions are they expected to write weekly/monthly, and who selects the topics?

We have students write for out legit tournament and the TrASH tournament. Question writing is one of the best practice methods I have ever seen, when combined with regular practice. Kids like writing cool questions and learn SO MUCH. Coaches lay out topics and question types/formats; students choose what they want to write about initially. Later, we tighten the noose by making them write out of area.

9) How do teach students stress management during a game or a tournament?

We don't really. We always encourage them to have a good time, and if a problem shows up, we get to play coach. Sometimes we take a break. Going to lunch right before the PACE semis this year was really helpful in calming everyone down, since it was right after losing to RM A (again).

10) Some broadcast formats also include a section of the game in which there is one-on-one student matchups (North Carolina Public Library QB as one). Would you like to see more "singles" or "doubles" play as opposed to standard 4- or 5-person team play? How do you coach in those situations?

We haven't coached differently for this type of competition, only because it's rare. If we faced more, I would change coaching styles, though not the ultimate goal, which is "get stuff into the kid's head and teach him how to get it out as quickly as possible". It would be fun, though.

11) For those teams that do, how do you incorporate Knowledge Master Open or chat/online game play (Questions Unlimited QuizNet) into your practices?

KMO is (kind of) fun, but not really helpful to QB, I think. We don't really practice for KMO much anymore, though with a largely new team next year we might run through a practice game.

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Postby jbarnes112358 » Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:52 pm

1) Describe a typical practice. How often do you meet during the week, and for how long?

We meet 3 times per week after school for 1.5 hour sessions. We also meet at lunchtime for about 20 minutes per day. The more serious players attend regularly. Our less serious players are more sporadic.

2) Do students actually study? Do students keep a notebook, and who reviews the notebook?

I believe some keep a personal notebook. But, they generally study via classes or independent reading. That is, they are mostly students who love to read and love to learn. Our attitude is similar to buzzerzen's description of TJ's approach.

3) How do you develop a team? What is your ideal "team"?

The ideal team is one composed of students who have always loved to read, have curiosity about a wide variety of things, remember information they learn, and love the competition of quizbowl. Students possessing all those attributes are not that easy to find. Really good teams can only be developed with such players.

4) How much do your practices focus on individual tossup play versus team bonus/handout play?

We do not do handouts. We stay with TU/Bonus format or just TU's.

5) Do you set performance incentives or milestones (or a "kangaroo court" for negative performance)?

No, but perhaps we should.

6) How do you prepare high school players for math (calculation) questions?

We don't do any preparation for math. Perhaps that is why we are so bad at it. We do have a couple of players who can do the math quite well, however.

7) How do you prepare students for broadcast tournaments vs. invitational/circuit competitions vs. national events?

To prepare for specific formats we try to find questions that would be applicable. Sometimes we watch TV games on tape.

8) Do students write questions? How many questions are they expected to write weekly/monthly, and who selects the topics?

Most definitely. We host an annual tournament in December with student written questions. We put a large emphasis on writing of questions. We get into the nuances of constructing good pyramidal questions and balanced bonuses. The experienced players train the younger ones. My role as coach is minimal - mainly just as a cheerleader and trying to keep the general difficulty at an appropriate level. Not all our players like writing or are a little lazy about it. But, the more serious players tend to write more. I agree with Chris that writing questions is one of the best ways for players to improve. Chris Ray, himself, is a poster child for this point of view. When I think back at some our greatest players, like Matt Weiner, Art Vilassakdanont, Wren Elhai, and others, they all loved to write questions and wrote them in copious numbers.

9) How do teach students stress management during a game or a tournament?

We usually have a yoga session before each tounament, with transcendental meditation and Tai Chi at lunch. (':lol:') Just kidding. We don't do much of anything formal in regard to stress management. Sometimes players will try to calm each other down when stress runs high. Some of our players do like to take walks before a big game. Some of our players will sometimes start removing their clothes as a sress-reliever. (outer layers only, of course)


10) Some broadcast formats also include a section of the game in which there is one-on-one student matchups (North Carolina Public Library QB as one). Would you like to see more "singles" or "doubles" play as opposed to standard 4- or 5-person team play? How do you coach in those situations?

We emphasize team play only.

11) For those teams that do, how do you incorporate Knowledge Master Open or chat/online game play (Questions Unlimited QuizNet) into your practices?

We do KMO. It's cheap and takes little time. We do not usually practice for it. Perhaps we should. We do not participate in Quiznet.

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