Middle School QB help

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mrdcool
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Middle School QB help

Post by mrdcool »

Hello -

I am a middle school quiz bowl coach looking for advice and practice tips. We generally practice once or twice each week, where mostly we do simulated matches. I have a good collection of kids, but their development has somewhat stalled, and we're not performing as well in tournaments as we should be. Many would be motivated to study more if I told them exactly how and what they needed to do. I would appreciate any suggestions.

Thanks!
Matt D.
Sandusky Middle School
Quiz Bowl Coach

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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by the return of AHAN »

My first question is, where are you? My advice to Illinois coaches is different from my advice for non-Illinois coaches.
Jeff Price
Barrington High School Coach
Barrington Station Middle School Coach (2013 MSNCT Champions, 2013 & 2017 Illinois Class AA State Champions)
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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by mrdcool »

We are in Michigan.
Matt D.
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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

What types of tournaments you have attended (if any)? What types of questions have your students been exposed to?

I think we can help you out after you can answer those, so we know not to give you information you may already know or have.
Mr. Andrew Chrzanowski
Caesar Rodney High School
Camden, Delaware
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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by First Chairman »

Can you please do more to identify yourself. Michigan is a pretty big state, and we do not know if you are a student, a parent, a teacher, or a competition administrator.
Emil Thomas Chuck, Ph.D.
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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by cvdwightw »

Dr. Chuck wrote:we do not know if you are a student, a parent, a teacher, or a competition administrator.
mrdcool wrote:I am a middle school quiz bowl coach looking for advice and practice tips.
Mystery solved!

The standard argument I have heard for getting better through "simulated games" is to practice not only at your competition level but also at a level one higher than your competition level. For instance, in middle school, one should be practicing on frosh/soph high school questions if you can find them. The reason for this is that oftentimes the answers at the higher level are the clues at the lower level. Reading a few sets at this higher level may prove frustrating at first, as your kids may not get too many questions, but the kids that are the most interested will start learning about those higher-level answers and will be able to buzz in competition when those higher-level answers come up as clues for the lower-level answers.

As far as outside study, I'll defer to the coaches on that.
Dwight Wynne
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UC Irvine 2008-2013; UCLA 2004-2007; Capistrano Valley High School 2000-2003

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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by at your pleasure »

I'll second Dwight's advice to practice at one level higher than the level you play. As for outside study, I don't really know about imposing any since I'm not a coach. However, if any of your students are interested in outside study, I would suggest that they start with the NAQT/Carleton lists and old packets. A number of high school packets can be found at http://quizbowlpackets.com/. Again , it's a good idea to read packets above your level for the reasons Dwight mentioned. If they want to go beyond that and study specifc areas in greater depth, I would take a look at this thread: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=6928
It's mostly about where to find material for college questions, but there could be some useful material for your purposes there.
Finally, one thing that we do for fine arts is keep a album of paintings that have come up.
Douglas Graebner, Walt Whitman HS 10, Uchicago 14
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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by Deviant Insider »

If you have students that are willing to work to get better, something that helps at all levels is writing questions. Junior high students probably need some guidance in terms of what answer space to look at and some encouragement to focus on straightforward academic clues, but they are capable of looking things up, and doing so will help them.
David Reinstein
PACE VP of Outreach, Head Writer and Editor for Scobol Solo and Masonics (Illinois), TD for New Trier Scobol Solo and New Trier Varsity, Writer for NAQT (2011-2017), IHSSBCA Board Member, IHSSBCA Chair (2004-2014), PACE Member, PACE President (2016-2018), New Trier Coach (1994-2011)

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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by at your pleasure »

Since Reinstein mentioned writing questions, I thought it sensible to link to the most widely accepted writing guide. This should give your students a good idea of how to write good questions: http://www.doc-ent.com/qbwiki/index.php ... _Questions.
Douglas Graebner, Walt Whitman HS 10, Uchicago 14
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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by the return of AHAN »

mrdcool wrote:We are in Michigan.
I wonder if a Michigan team would come to Chicagoland for a tournament... hmmmm....

I'm not familiar with the format of Michigan quizbowl, but it looks like you've been given good advice on how to prep middle schoolers. Material-wise, Questions Galore sells some nice study packets of info relevant to middle school level quizbowl. Most people here aren't exactly fans of Q Galore question packets (riddled with one-liners) but they have a nice set of study guides that can help a team get off the ground floor, and they're not expensive, either. I can't say they'll take you to the promised land, but they'll certainly help you get off the deck and be competitive anwyay.
Jeff Price
Barrington High School Coach
Barrington Station Middle School Coach (2013 MSNCT Champions, 2013 & 2017 Illinois Class AA State Champions)
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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Be sure to check out their sewing study guide.
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by at your pleasure »

I don't know QG's study guides, but I am of the opinion that the first step in getting better should be to read recent packets as opposed to study guides. Study guides may be biased towards what the producer likes to write about, but since writers tend to use recent packets to determine appropriate answer selection, they will provide a fairly reliable index of what is "canonical". And as we all know, the first step in becoming a good player is to develop a feel for the canon. If, however, your team already has good canon-sense, it may be better for people to focus on studying specific areas in-depth, in which case basic study guides may be insufficent.
Douglas Graebner, Walt Whitman HS 10, Uchicago 14
"... imagination acts upon man as really as does gravitation, and may kill him as certainly as a dose of prussic acid."-Sir James Frazer,The Golden Bough

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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by the return of AHAN »

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:Be sure to check out their sewing study guide.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
Charlie brings up a good point. You need to focus on those things pertinent to your format. Sewing, as a potential subset of the 2/1 Vocational Education distribution, is part of the Illinois M.S. canon since QG writes the IESA State Series. Hopefully, tournaments like Mr. Wehrman's Junior Wildcat will help introduce better quizbowl to Illinois.
But the civics and presidents guides are good jumping off points for new recruits.
Jeff Price
Barrington High School Coach
Barrington Station Middle School Coach (2013 MSNCT Champions, 2013 & 2017 Illinois Class AA State Champions)
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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by mrdcool »

Thank to all so far for the advice. Here's a little more info about our competitions. We compete in small, rural county league in Michigan, with us and 3-4 other schools (most schools enter multiple teams.) Our fall/winter season format is 25 toss-up questions per match, with 5 matches per competition. Teams are then ranked via win/loss record for the 5 rounds and matched up for final placing. In our spring season, we use a similar format to Michigan high school quiz bowl, with a toss up round, lightning round and toss-up/bonus round.

I have had a couple of kids write questions before, and I agree that it is a very worthwhile activity. Practicing at a level above is another good suggestion. I will check out the links and practice materials referenced in this thread.

Someone, perhaps jokingly, wondered about whether a Michigan team would come to Chicago for a tournament. The short answer is yes we would. Last year we attempted to raise money to send both our high school and middle schools teams to a national tournament. We raised enough to send the high school to DC. The leftover money from last year is mine to use for such an event. I don't really want to enter a national tournament with my middle school team because competition-wise we just wouldn't match up, plus there are transportation and logistical issues. However, I would be very interested in a smaller scale meet or tournament and Chicago is within a reasonable travel distance for us to make something work. But again, I would have fears that we'd be out of our league.
Matt D.
Sandusky Middle School
Quiz Bowl Coach

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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by Awehrman »

As Jeff Price mentioned above, Northwestern University is hosting a middle school quizbowl tournament on February 21st. We still have a few spots available, and we would be glad to have you and your team attend. The tournament will not be in Illinois format, so your team should not be at a disadvantage in terms of experience with this style of play. Our tournament website is here: http://groups.northwestern.edu/quizbowl ... index.html Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Andy Wehrman
(formerly of Arkansas and Northwestern)

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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

I don't really want to enter a national tournament with my middle school team because competition-wise we just wouldn't match up, plus there are transportation and logistical issues.
This is probably the one time I will advocate following this general course of action, although for a different reason than you give. The only middle school national I know of is run by Questions Unlimited/Chip Beall, and his lack of ethics and awful questions both stink to high heaven. I would strongly advocate you avoid anything produced by that company (also, what was the high school you mentioned? Did they go to the high school analogue of Chip Beall, or the PACE NSC?)
On a different note though, I would highly recommend you take your team to any event that you can feasibly take them to, and put a priority on a quality tournament. In high school, many of the best teams are those that started out with bad players, but the coaches didn't shy away from taking those players early on to competitive tournaments, and then they grew and improved as a result of that. I would definitely advocate getting over the hesitancy to attend somewhere just because you don't think you would be competitive, especially since it appears that this Northwestern event is going to be the best Middle School tournament out there. Even if you know for a fact you're going to lose every game (which I highly doubt given how little there is known about the middle school circuit) it's still a good thing to got o all the tournaments you can afford to give your team experience.
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
"I won't say more because I know some of you parse everything I say." - Jeremy Gibbs

"At one TJ tournament the neg prize was the Hampshire College ultimate frisbee team (nude) calender featuring one Evan Silberman. In retrospect that could have been a disaster." - Harry White

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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by mrdcool »

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:
I don't really want to enter a national tournament with my middle school team because competition-wise we just wouldn't match up, plus there are transportation and logistical issues.
This is probably the one time I will advocate following this general course of action, although for a different reason than you give. The only middle school national I know of is run by Questions Unlimited/Chip Beall, and his lack of ethics and awful questions both stink to high heaven. I would strongly advocate you avoid anything produced by that company (also, what was the high school you mentioned? Did they go to the high school analogue of Chip Beall, or the PACE NSC?)
On a different note though, I would highly recommend you take your team to any event that you can feasibly take them to, and put a priority on a quality tournament. In high school, many of the best teams are those that started out with bad players, but the coaches didn't shy away from taking those players early on to competitive tournaments, and then they grew and improved as a result of that. I would definitely advocate getting over the hesitancy to attend somewhere just because you don't think you would be competitive, especially since it appears that this Northwestern event is going to be the best Middle School tournament out there. Even if you know for a fact you're going to lose every game (which I highly doubt given how little there is known about the middle school circuit) it's still a good thing to got o all the tournaments you can afford to give your team experience.
Our high school went to the national tournament in Chicago put on by QU/Chip Beall. Thankfully a few people on this board have given me some tournament options for middle school students, and hopefully one will work out. Thanks!
Matt D.
Sandusky Middle School
Quiz Bowl Coach

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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by at your pleasure »

Our high school went to the national tournament in Chicago put on by QU/Chip Beall.
I don't know how to put this without it being awkard, but the NAC is generally regarded as a illegitimate championship. Furthermore, as Charlie Dees implied, :chip: is almost universally reviled here.
Douglas Graebner, Walt Whitman HS 10, Uchicago 14
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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by AKKOLADE »

Anti-Climacus wrote:
Our high school went to the national tournament in Chicago put on by QU/Chip Beall.
I don't know how to put this without it being awkard, but the NAC is generally regarded as a illegitimate championship. Furthermore, as Charlie Dees implied, :chip: is almost universally reviled here.
Less talk about how much NAC sucks (which has been covered millions of times elsewhere and can be covered again in another thread) and more talk about how to answer Mr. D's questions, such as suggestions of tournaments for his team to go to.
Fred Morlan
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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by at your pleasure »

I don't know much about the Michigan curcit, but I would imagine that a HS novice tournament would be suitable for middle schoolers. If there are any in your area that use good questions, they would be a good option.
Douglas Graebner, Walt Whitman HS 10, Uchicago 14
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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by Habitat_Against_Humanity »

As someone who played Middle School Quizbowl in rural Michigan (Corunna to be exact), I can say that "novice high school tournaments" pretty much don't exist, but I guess things could have changed since '98-'01. If things are run the same from when I was in school, schools generally play in leagues, often corresponding to high school athletic conferences. Personally, I think if you're playing on as lousy questions as I did, taking a middle school team to a high school tournament is just going to discourage the heck out of them. On my MS team there were like 2-3 of us out of like 20 that had some actual talent, and the rest were just looking for an extracurricular were they wouldn't be mocked for lack of athletic ability. I think Middle School, rather than focusing on "getting good," should be an introduction to how fun the game can be.
That said, if you're lucky enough to have a good group of kids who want to get better, I think outside study is a great idea, as long as it's not imposed as a chore. The kids with the most talent seem to tend to do this of their own accord. For each practice, have kids find out some facts on a subject that interests them that they think might come up in a round. When people asked me in middle school why I was so good, I would say it was because I read a lot and watched the news. Most kids like watching TV, so have them watch the national news every night if they can. It's a good way to learn basic history/geography/politics/economics, etc. Heck, if your school has that godawful Channel One nonsense, once in a while you can learn something from that.
I know my advice may be at odds with some of the other folks on here, but I'm trying to think of suggestions that will get the average middle school player to improve their skills at the game while not alienating those who aren't as talented. I remember middle school as an awful place except for quiz bowl. Let the kids have fun and make friends. They'll still have plenty of time to get their spirits crushed in high school and college.
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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by mrdcool »

Habitat_Against_Humanity wrote:As someone who played Middle School Quizbowl in rural Michigan (Corunna to be exact), I can say that "novice high school tournaments" pretty much don't exist, but I guess things could have changed since '98-'01. If things are run the same from when I was in school, schools generally play in leagues, often corresponding to high school athletic conferences. Personally, I think if you're playing on as lousy questions as I did, taking a middle school team to a high school tournament is just going to discourage the heck out of them. On my MS team there were like 2-3 of us out of like 20 that had some actual talent, and the rest were just looking for an extracurricular were they wouldn't be mocked for lack of athletic ability. I think Middle School, rather than focusing on "getting good," should be an introduction to how fun the game can be.
That said, if you're lucky enough to have a good group of kids who want to get better, I think outside study is a great idea, as long as it's not imposed as a chore. The kids with the most talent seem to tend to do this of their own accord. For each practice, have kids find out some facts on a subject that interests them that they think might come up in a round. When people asked me in middle school why I was so good, I would say it was because I read a lot and watched the news. Most kids like watching TV, so have them watch the national news every night if they can. It's a good way to learn basic history/geography/politics/economics, etc. Heck, if your school has that godawful Channel One nonsense, once in a while you can learn something from that.
I know my advice may be at odds with some of the other folks on here, but I'm trying to think of suggestions that will get the average middle school player to improve their skills at the game while not alienating those who aren't as talented. I remember middle school as an awful place except for quiz bowl. Let the kids have fun and make friends. They'll still have plenty of time to get their spirits crushed in high school and college.
You make some excellent points. I want to keep a balance for my kids of having fun participating and improving their skills/knowledge. There really isn't much around here for them in regards to QB and the questions are pretty poor overall. I'll reinforce to them the importance of reading and watching the news and will encourage more of them to create a practice round of questions for us to use.
Matt D.
Sandusky Middle School
Quiz Bowl Coach

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Re: Middle School QB help

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

mrdcool wrote:You make some excellent points. I want to keep a balance for my kids of having fun participating and improving their skills/knowledge. There really isn't much around here for them in regards to QB and the questions are pretty poor overall. I'll reinforce to them the importance of reading and watching the news and will encourage more of them to create a practice round of questions for us to use.
You're going to be a great coach because that is the absolute perfect attitude to have for this sort of age group. Good luck to you. Your kids are lucky to have someone guiding them in the right direction who still wants to enjoy himself at the same time.
Mr. Andrew Chrzanowski
Caesar Rodney High School
Camden, Delaware
CRHS '97-'01
University of Delaware '01-'05
CRHS quizbowl coach '06-'12
http://crquizbowl.edublogs.org

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