Building a Quality Culture

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Rudolf Volz's Hamlet In Rock
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Building a Quality Culture

Post by Rudolf Volz's Hamlet In Rock »

Hi all, I'm just wondering how your schools build a quality quizbowl culture--meaning, how do you keep people motivated even when they're involved in other activities such as sports, theatre, music, etc.? How do you keep people motivated to keep coming to meetings throughout the year, even when your club is so small it has only about 10 or so people, and many can't get easy buzzes? Specifically, any advice about recruiting people at the beginning of the year would be helpful as well.
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by Lo, Marathon Ham! »

Bribe them with free stuff. To get them to a relatively successful level, try starting with some NAQT MS or CMST to build their confidence and to get them to start to enjoy the game itself. Don't force a certain difficulty in the beginning, but rather gradually build up.
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by Everything in the Whole Wide World »

First and formost, if you know that many of these students have a conflict with the same events, don't go head to head with them. As much as half of my high school team did the Literary Magazine on Wednesdays, so that was the one day when no practice was offered. If everyone's out with different events, you might want to look into other options, we occasionally had late night or weekend practice.
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by czheng0708 »

Beatlefan11 wrote:First and formost, if you know that many of these students have a conflict with the same events, don't go head to head with them. As much as half of my high school team did the Literary Magazine on Wednesdays, so that was the one day when no practice was offered. If everyone's out with different events, you might want to look into other options, we occasionally had late night or weekend practice.
We are only allowed to have one official practice each week. We try having multiple unofficial practices each week, but they're never successful because people claim they're working on something else which is a totally legitimate reason. But for some reason, the game of Quiz Bowl doesn't seem attractive enough to our members in order for them to study and motivated to become better. Members kind of just sit around and hope improvements come to them as they get older. It seems as if everyone makes Quiz Bowl secondary to other priorities. For example, during tournaments, I've had teammates do physics and Latin homework right as rounds are starting. And then, those same people are eager to leave tournaments as soon as possible to do other things such as visiting the Met (if tournament is in NYC). I can't stop people from going to tournaments but being having a team consisting of people like that hinders our ability to develop into a better team. What's the best advice for fixing this?
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by Emil Nolde »

Beatlefan11 wrote:First and formost, if you know that many of these students have a conflict with the same events, don't go head to head with them.
This may sound a little contrary, but if the same activity or organization conflicts with quizbowl especially in an important or unavoidable way, year after year, and a new prospective member is in that club, make it clear to them that there's going to be a problem, and encourage them to reassess their priorities.

Or, if you're like us, run a clandestine smear campaign against the other activity.
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by Rudolf Volz's Hamlet In Rock »

Goliath Cockatoo wrote:This may sound a little contrary, but if the same activity or organization conflicts with quizbowl especially in an important or unavoidable way, year after year, and a new prospective member is in that club, make it clear to them that there's going to be a problem, and encourage them to reassess their priorities.
If we did this, about 2 people would still remain in the club.
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by Deviant Insider »

One thing to keep in mind is that you don't need everybody on your team to be dedicated to quizbowl. The people who are dedicated should focus first on making themselves into a good team. It's also important to be friendly to students on the fence and to do some outreach every now and then, but don't let the people who aren't dedicated distract you from job one.
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by Emil Nolde »

thehydrogenpoptart wrote:
Goliath Cockatoo wrote:This may sound a little contrary, but if the same activity or organization conflicts with quizbowl especially in an important or unavoidable way, year after year, and a new prospective member is in that club, make it clear to them that there's going to be a problem, and encourage them to reassess their priorities.
If we did this, about 2 people would still remain in the club.
That doesn't sound to be as big a problem (to me) as you seem to be saying. Two completely dedicated players could potentially be enough for you to be successful on the national circuit.

Anyway, the primary target here is underclassmen. If your school is anything like mine, most of your incoming students will be complete novices in every activity they decide to join. Thus, they're not yet an important part of anything. They join stuff based on what seems interesting. If you emphasize that they are needed and wanted, it is definitely possible to persuade them to 'drop' something else. Besides, propagating an atmosphere of basically allowing people to opt out of tournaments whenever they please is going to be even worse for you than having a small team of people who actually care. Consistency is key.
Yellow-throated Honeyeater wrote:don't let the people who aren't dedicated distract you from job one.
This, in particular, is really good advice.
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by Great Bustard »

Might be a challenge, but see about setting up a middle school team, or getting middle schoolers in your district involved in NHBB (try asking history teachers) so that you get a number of incoming 9th graders each year with some experience. Also, why can't you have practice more than once a week? I can't imagine athletic teams being under such an onus, and the notion of not allowing academic team practices when the football team practices every day just seems twisted. Good luck!
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by The Polebarn Hotel »

Great Bustard wrote:Might be a challenge, but see about setting up a middle school team, or getting middle schoolers in your district involved in NHBB (try asking history teachers) so that you get a number of incoming 9th graders each year with some experience. Also, why can't you have practice more than once a week? I can't imagine athletic teams being under such an onus, and the notion of not allowing academic team practices when the football team practices every day just seems twisted. Good luck!
It may be because quiz bowl would still be considered a club, and not a team as much as a football team would be considered a team. Sports are often treated differently than academic events - at least, that's my limited experience.

As to building a culture, I don't know. We have students that joined the club in school and liked it and wanted to get better. It helps to be a high-caliber team to motivate the members.
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by Rudolf Volz's Hamlet In Rock »

Casey is right when he says that we can only have practice once a week because we're a club; our advisor is unwilling to stay more than once a week, and often she cancels practice due to conflicts or when we have a conflict with Regional Quizbowl (some garbage quizbowl thing that we do that our advisor refuses to drop). Also, it's highly unlikely that the middle school could start a team due to their limited budget, but I'll ask around.

Thank you to everyone for the advice so far! It's been very helpful.
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by High Dependency Unit »

Just saying, unless you need to pay a stipend to an advisor, you only need about $200 for a buzzer system plus money for practice questions to start a club.
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode »

Smooth coarea formula wrote:Just saying, unless you need to pay a stipend to an advisor, you only need about $200 for a buzzer system plus money for practice questions to start a club.
yeah, tournaments and travel costs are negligible of course
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by High Dependency Unit »

HMS Audacious wrote:
Smooth coarea formula wrote:Just saying, unless you need to pay a stipend to an advisor, you only need about $200 for a buzzer system plus money for practice questions to start a club.
yeah, tournaments and travel costs are negligible of course
Parents drive and kids chip in for the entry fees.
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by Sniper, No Sniping! »

Great Bustard wrote:and the notion of not allowing academic team practices when the football team practices every day just seems twisted.
I guess that's a very valid argument, after all their common denominators is they're both "teams".
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by Sniper, No Sniping! »

You don't need to pay for practice questions. Here's some freebies c/o HSAPQ.

You also don't need to buy a buzzer system (where did this all come from anyways...? Isn't GNS an established program that has been to Nats before?)
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by czheng0708 »

I'd like to start off by saying thank you to everyone posting.
thehydrogenpoptart wrote:
Goliath Cockatoo wrote:This may sound a little contrary, but if the same activity or organization conflicts with quizbowl especially in an important or unavoidable way, year after year, and a new prospective member is in that club, make it clear to them that there's going to be a problem, and encourage them to reassess their priorities.
If we did this, about 2 people would still remain in the club.
And those two people are the two posting here.
Great Bustard wrote:Might be a challenge, but see about setting up a middle school team, or getting middle schoolers in your district involved in NHBB (try asking history teachers) so that you get a number of incoming 9th graders each year with some experience. Also, why can't you have practice more than once a week? I can't imagine athletic teams being under such an onus, and the notion of not allowing academic team practices when the football team practices every day just seems twisted. Good luck!
I have tried setting up a middle school team (especially since we have one feeder middle school). The school administration said an old club has to go in order for a new club to start. At the moment, there is no club that is sparse enough to rid of. However, we have allowed select middle schoolers to come to Quiz Bowl/History Bowl practices (usually a member might know of an interested middle schooler and I'd give a nod of approval to bring them along). I might give it another try soon though. We can't have more than one official practice a week, but we've had some Google+/Skype practices from time to time.
Crazyflight wrote:
Great Bustard wrote:Might be a challenge, but see about setting up a middle school team, or getting middle schoolers in your district involved in NHBB (try asking history teachers) so that you get a number of incoming 9th graders each year with some experience. Also, why can't you have practice more than once a week? I can't imagine athletic teams being under such an onus, and the notion of not allowing academic team practices when the football team practices every day just seems twisted. Good luck!
It may be because quiz bowl would still be considered a club, and not a team as much as a football team would be considered a team. Sports are often treated differently than academic events - at least, that's my limited experience.

As to building a culture, I don't know. We have students that joined the club in school and liked it and wanted to get better. It helps to be a high-caliber team to motivate the members.
It also doesn't help that our administration favors athletic teams more than they favor academic teams even though the academic teams have earned more prize money, accolades, and reputation to the school. Another thing, our football team and some other athletic teams are so bad, Nassau County created a "developmental league" for some of our teams.
Sniper, No Sniping! wrote:You don't need to pay for practice questions. Here's some freebies c/o HSAPQ.

You also don't need to buy a buzzer system (where did this all come from anyways...? Isn't GNS an established program that has been to Nats before?)
GNS was a solid team about 2-3 years ago. Then, some talented seniors graduated and we had a regime change (really a coaching change and Cyrus, for those of you who know him). Since the coaching change, we've had to deal with many more administrative restrictions and lack of dedication from our coach. The lack of dedication has kind of translated into the attitude our members have toward Quiz Bowl.
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by Sniper, No Sniping! »

This whole athletics vs academics thing has to be settled sometime.

(at the risk of a thread split) Maybe I'm totally missing a team/region-specific point, but generally a school (let alone a large public school) isn't going to stand apart from its private and neighboring counterparts (if open enrollment exists in NY) based on the success of a non-athletic extracurricular. Sports actually do interest kids and parents to the point they'll transfer out if the school has an inferior athletic program or can't get the student looks to play at the next level (college). Sports also enable a huge sense of community and enables adults and kids to stand behind those repping the school on the court and on the field. Most schools are going to want the exposure and success of excellent athletic programs for a myriad a of reasons: one is community pride, another is ensuring as many families stick with the school as possible, and a third is to ensure and encourage the support of the taxpayers who don't have kids in the school (again, community pride stretching beyond the families in the school).

TL;DR ^ Sports help market the school, and many people value them.


Extracurriculars, such as quiz bowl, do not however have nearly as much pull for exposure and is not nearly marketable as sports. If in a hypothetical situation, a family can choose between two identical public schools (same quality education) and one has excellent football/good athletics, no quiz bowl, and the other has horrible football/athletics yet good quiz bowl, to the average family, which is more appealing to the average family with athlete kids? Very seldom will you see a kid with legitimate opportunities to play in college/or a very big passion to play sport pass it up just to do quiz bowl.

The amount of money a school is going to shell out for athletic purposes vs academic extracurricular is obviously way more, and I see nothing wrong with that. Why on God's earth would the school try to match it's spending for perceivably minute activities in which a small percentage of students participate in vs an athletics program that has far more student involvement?
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by Panayot Hitov »

Smooth coarea formula wrote:
HMS Audacious wrote:
Smooth coarea formula wrote:Just saying, unless you need to pay a stipend to an advisor, you only need about $200 for a buzzer system plus money for practice questions to start a club.
yeah, tournaments and travel costs are negligible of course
Parents drive and kids chip in for the entry fees.
This advice may work in a place like Darien, one of the richest cities in the U.S., but it may not necessarily work in the majority of the country.
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by Santa Claus »

40th Day after death wrote:
Smooth coarea formula wrote: Parents drive and kids chip in for the entry fees.
This advice may work in a place like Darien, one of the richest cities in the U.S., but it may not necessarily work in the majority of the country.
Perhaps I'm jumping to conclusions, but with a full team of four, chipping in a twenty for a day of Quiz Bowl, including tournament fees and lunch and all, doesn't seem that extreme unless there's other circumstances like great distances to drive. Certainly cheaper than a day at the fair/amusement park/movies/other thing that costs money and is fun.
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by ryanrosenberg »

40th Day after death wrote:
Smooth coarea formula wrote:
HMS Audacious wrote:
Smooth coarea formula wrote:Just saying, unless you need to pay a stipend to an advisor, you only need about $200 for a buzzer system plus money for practice questions to start a club.
yeah, tournaments and travel costs are negligible of course
Parents drive and kids chip in for the entry fees.
This advice may work in a place like Darien, one of the richest cities in the U.S., but it may not necessarily work in the majority of the country.
If we're giving specific advice to the GNS people, Great Neck ("West Egg" in Gatsby) is not exactly a shantytown. I agree that this will not always be an option, though.
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by czheng0708 »

The Predictable Consequences wrote:
40th Day after death wrote:
Smooth coarea formula wrote:
HMS Audacious wrote:
Smooth coarea formula wrote:Just saying, unless you need to pay a stipend to an advisor, you only need about $200 for a buzzer system plus money for practice questions to start a club.
yeah, tournaments and travel costs are negligible of course
Parents drive and kids chip in for the entry fees.
This advice may work in a place like Darien, one of the richest cities in the U.S., but it may not necessarily work in the majority of the country.
If we're giving specific advice to the GNS people, Great Neck ("West Egg" in Gatsby) is not exactly a shantytown. I agree that this will not always be an option, though.
You are very right in saying that. In fact, we do tend to pay ourselves for tournaments (that's when we go as "West Egg"). But over the year, I think I've spent over $100 on Quiz Bowl tournaments (which isn't exactly a lot, but it adds up if you start including Nationals tournaments).
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by Beevor Feevor »

As a solo player who lives in an area with many high quality teams and tournaments, I've probably spent at least $300 out of pocket this year for just tournament entry fees, since my school never covers our tournaments (this doesn't include room and board and transportation for Texas Invitational). I understand that some peoples' parents won't be that cooperative, but if you truly love the game, sometimes some sacrifices have to be made.

With regards to building a quality culture, an important aspect is to make Quizbowl an activity that people look forward to attending. During practices, although you should try to get through a certain number of packets every practice, make sure it can be more than just one person reading to a room of stupefied students. Then, instead of Quizbowl, you have a class. Make it interesting! The more people feel like they're getting something out of Quizbowl, the better it can be. Don't expect 100% participation, but a solid nucleus of about 4 to 5 people can really start a new team off well.

One thing I'd recommend is to get a middle school teacher involved and scouting for interested players before they even go to high school. As I've found, people have a lot more going on in high school, and intellectual curiosity without any outlet is more frequent in middle school before children are gobbled up by APs, olympiads, music competitions, etc. Tell middle school teachers to refer your team to any students in their classes who seem interested and contact them about practicing with the high school. That should hopefully get them excited about "playing up" a level and get them started for when they get to high school so the questions and canon don't seem as daunting.
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by Emil Nolde »

Sniper, No Sniping! wrote:This whole athletics vs academics thing has to be settled sometime.

(at the risk of a thread split) Maybe I'm totally missing a team/region-specific point, but generally a school (let alone a large public school) isn't going to stand apart from its private and neighboring counterparts (if open enrollment exists in NY) based on the success of a non-athletic extracurricular. Sports actually do interest kids and parents to the point they'll transfer out if the school has an inferior athletic program or can't get the student looks to play at the next level (college). Sports also enable a huge sense of community and enables adults and kids to stand behind those repping the school on the court and on the field. Most schools are going to want the exposure and success of excellent athletic programs for a myriad a of reasons: one is community pride, another is ensuring as many families stick with the school as possible, and a third is to ensure and encourage the support of the taxpayers who don't have kids in the school (again, community pride stretching beyond the families in the school).

TL;DR ^ Sports help market the school, and many people value them.
I guess you're talking about magnet programs and the like? At least in IL, public schools are prohibited from actively recruiting anyone (I could be wrong here, but I believe that's the case), but I guess that doesn't necessarily stop the reverse from occurring. However, I don't really think that the community forms the same kind of bond with schools with such selective enrollment policies that draw from an entire district/county/region/state, versus a run-of-the-mill public
school where all athletes live nearby. For one thing, any place with a sufficiently dense population to where such a program can function probably isn't a community focused with high school athletics anyway, or, not on a specific school's programs, in any case.

Also, if this is at least in part motivated by "why can't we practice more than once a week", then the answer is far simpler: athletic conditioning is far easier to lose, and their equipment is usually more expensive/harder to find, so that pretty much the at-school practice is the only effective kind. You can study anywhere.
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by Sniper, No Sniping! »

Goliath Cockatoo wrote:However, I don't really think that the community forms the same kind of bond with schools with such selective enrollment policies that draw from an entire district/county/region/state, versus a run-of-the-mill public
school where all athletes live nearby.
Probably depends on where and what; there's two private high schools in our city of 37.5k (us, and a relatively newer non-denominational Christian academy) and we both enjoy a positive relation with the community of Lancaster at large, so much that we get to use the public school's facilities for football and track, as well as a city park for tennis (since we don't have an on-campus football stadium or tennis courts)... I guess that's worth noting since our school does draw from an entire county and small portions of contiguous ones (and ergo, other districts = different taxes for schools).
Goliath Cockatoo wrote:For one thing, any place with a sufficiently dense population to where such a program can function probably isn't a community focused with high school athletics anyway, or, not on a specific school's programs, in any case.
If we're talking about athletic programs, then I'm sure we all know those enclave municipalities with all the nice houses that happen to excel in the "country club sports" (golf, tennis, swimming etc) or those "baseball factory" towns. If we're not talking about athletics, then you're right.
Goliath Cockatoo wrote:Also, if this is at least in part motivated by "why can't we practice more than once a week", then the answer is far simpler: athletic conditioning is far easier to lose, and their equipment is usually more expensive/harder to find, so that pretty much the at-school practice is the only effective kind. You can study anywhere.
You're right; I'll go one step further: it mandates total involvement from everyone, where as academic extracurriculars (quiz bowl) you can basically do outside your house and improve as much as you want on your own volition.



Addendum towards the original discussion at hand: encourage enthusiasm among prospective students, create camaraderie and make friends with like-minded students to establish some comfort in a club and last but not least, certainly emphasize fun yet winning (everyone likes to win, no?). Point to them stuff the club has won before.
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by JTakang21 »

In this vein, how have you drawn people to tryouts at the beginning of the season? And also, what is the ideal size for a club/team?
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode »

JTakang21 wrote:In this vein, how have you drawn people to tryouts at the beginning of the season? And also, what is the ideal size for a club/team?
A lot of schools have like, club-fair esque things that you can usually attract people with if you set up a buzzer and read them easy questions

No ideal size for clubs... for a team obviously 4...
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Re: Building a Quality Culture

Post by zachary_yan »

HMS Audacious wrote:
JTakang21 wrote:In this vein, how have you drawn people to tryouts at the beginning of the season? And also, what is the ideal size for a club/team?
A lot of schools have like, club-fair esque things that you can usually attract people with if you set up a buzzer and read them easy questions

No ideal size for clubs... for a team obviously 4...
There was some discussion about club size in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=15588&p=276436. It mostly depends on effective leadership more than anything in my opinion. Generally it's easier to work with a smaller group of people than large teams (school that regularly field 4 or more teams to tournaments). For example, LASA is able to have a very maintain large and successful team because they have high quality leadership and coaching. I surmise from your posting that Douglas County is largely student run, so it might be a good idea to keep the club on the smaller end.

About tryouts, my opinion is that traditional quizbowl tryouts aren't as effective in screening talent as say tryouts for a sports team often because of the absence of feeder programs. I don't know how applicable this is to places like Illinois and Georgia, which have large middle school circuits. Quizbowl tryouts unnecessarily deprive players of opportunity to be on the team and in all honestly it isn't much work to make it onto Anytown High School's academic team anyway. Alternatively, an effective quizbowl tryout might consist of a questionnaire that tries to gauge interest and personality traits as opposed to forehand knowledge.
Wayzata '13
St. Olaf College
Wayzata middle schools assistant

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