Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

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Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by cvdwightw »

This post and thread is to propose a middle school event to be produced along the lines of the (presumably wildly) successful Fall Novice Tournament at the high school level. Please note that I am not announcing anything, nor am I planning to take a large interest in running the logistics of such a thing. I am merely proposing this in the hope that someone else will be able to take the ball and run with it, though if such a thing happens I would sign on as a writer in order to learn how to write good middle school questions.

Why is this tournament necessary?
-Quizbowl at the middle school level is dominated by companies that produce bad questions, not necessarily because coaches like bad questions, but because no provider of good questions has arisen to compete with them. The major nationwide high school question providers, NAQT and HSAPQ, are already producing as many sets as they estimate possible, and thus cannot currently expand into the middle school market.
-A number of forum posters have considered writing a middle school tournament but have either made no progress or given up; this would result in one fully-written tournament instead of several partially-written or abandoned tournaments.
-Middle school quizbowl is currently a small activity and thus the potential to introduce good quizbowl to teams that lack "bad habits" is immense.
-Expansion of "good quizbowl" at the middle school level directly promotes expansion of "good quizbowl" at the high school level. Similarly, expansion of "bad quizbowl" at the middle school level directly hinders expansion of "good quizbowl" at the high school level.

What are the objectives of this project?
-Develop middle-school writers by teaching experienced writers what is difficulty-appropriate for middle schoolers and by teaching those involved at the middle school level how to write good questions.
-Introduce good middle school quizbowl to areas with either bad middle school quizbowl or no middle school quizbowl.

What would this tournament consist of?
-Between 8 and 10 rounds of 20 middle-school appropriate tossups and some number of bonuses. I am not sure that more than 10 rounds can keep middle schoolers awake and focused. Bonus format (3-part 30-point bonuses, directed rounds, or some combination of both) to be decided by the writers.
-Three-line, pyramidal tossups and progressive-difficulty bonuses of no more than one line per part. I believe this is the best compromise between good quizbowl and what middle schoolers can actually handle.

What would this tournament need?
-A team of dedicated writers that includes experienced, respected editors (to ensure quality) and either middle school coaches or former middle school players (to ensure difficulty-appropriateness).
-A head overseer to ensure that the project is completed in a timely manner.
-A marketing director or team to advertise the tournament to pockets of "bad" middle school quizbowl and introduce middle school quizbowl to other areas. In new areas with extant high school or college programs, it may be easiest to market at the level of the school district (only a few schools means a small, manageable, intimate, well-contested tournament; HS/College programs can provide buzzers and train volunteers); in other areas, it may prove easiest to contact known hosts.

Who is in charge of this operation?
-Due to research/scholastic commitments and my work with various other quizbowl organizations, I am fairly confident I will not have the time to take on a clear leadership role. I am proposing this in case other people are similarly inspired and have more time on their hands to take on leadership roles. As such, the current answer to this question is "no one."

What is the expected timeline for the tournament?
-Depending on interest and time, it may be possible to produce this tournament by early April. The reason for this is that (1) it gives sufficient time for the set to be produced and (2) most other middle school academic activities are over for most students by this time.
-If there is not sufficient interest, or sufficiently interested people do not project to have enough time to finish the set by then, I will try again with a post around March or April trying to drum up interest among people who have free time in the summer.
-Mirrors could be run any time between the release date and the end of the school year.

What would be expected from tournament hosts?
-Like the Fall Novice Tournament, the mirror fee for this tournament would be $0.
-Hosts using the tournament as a fundraiser would be allowed to charge some fraction of typical entry fees in the area. Other hosts would be expected to have entry fees at (maximum estimated cost to run tournament)/(minimum number of teams expected), possibly plus a pre-defined profit per team.
-Eligibility criteria stating that all 6th, 7th, and 8th graders can play (5th and 9th graders at discretion of local tradition); teams must consist of no fewer than 4 and no more than 8 players; schools are allowed to enter as many teams as they pay the entry fee for; each team must be accompanied by a chaperone (coach/teacher/parent).
-Areas with local "everyone gets to play" rules may have a stipulation that each team member must participate in at least one full game.

Again, note that this is merely a proposal that may or may not have support. If you are interested and have the time to write, edit, or serve in a leadership role, please post in this thread. If you have ideas for amending or improving the proposed tournament, please post in this thread. If you think this is an absolutely terrible idea, please give reasons why in this thread.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by Kanga-Rat Murder Society »

We had a collaboration between several people for the Barrington Middle School tournament last year. It started out with a standard vendor packet, and we made heavy edits to it. The tournament was IESA format, so we had weird bonuses, but the tossups came out awesome. I had fun doing it, and I would without question help out with this set.

I think it would also be awesome if we could (obviously not this year) run a national middle school tournament. As Mr. Price once said, really competitive teams will be interested in playing fellow really competitive teams. Thus, they want to attend a national tournament. Currently, their only option is :chip: , meaning smart incoming high schoolers will be more likely to start with a preference of :chip: over NAQT, HSAPQ, etc. It would be awesome if PACE or a similar organization would sponsor a national tournament, so that incoming high schooler immediately jump to good quizbowl. Maybe, this can be a test run for that.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by Kouign Amann »

As a former middle school player and our middle school's "coach," I believe I have a vested interest in making this tournament successful, and therefore I volunteer to write or edit some part of it.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by at your pleasure »

If this gets off the ground, it just might make a good MS nationals set. Anyhow, I'm interested but would probably be too busy to do much with this until after the holidays.
Douglas Graebner, Walt Whitman HS 10, Uchicago 14
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by the return of AHAN »

BG MSL Champs wrote: As Mr. Price once said, really competitive teams will be interested in playing fellow really competitive teams. Thus, they want to attend a national tournament.
Like this guy?
Earlier today, in a private e-mail, a middle school coach wrote:
Hey Jeff,


You mentioned in an e-mail a couple years ago that you do a tournament. If you
still run can you add our team? We lost to Rochester (who finished 2nd in state)
last year in sectionals on the last two toss-up questions. We have some returning
players. I'd like to see where we stand against good competition. (emphasis added)

Let me know

(name & email redacted for this post)

Mathcounts Coach
Scholastic Bowl Coach
7th Grade Mathematics Teacher
xxxxxxxx Middle School
Springfield, IL 62704
(217) xxx- xxxx
I've sent him a sample packet to show him what the TU looked like from the Barrington Tourney to see what he thinks. I briefly explained the rationale for the pyramidal TU, too. Knowing what I know of him so far, I'd be disappointed if he backs off due to a lack of QG, but I've learned I should let nothing surprise me anymore.

[steering back to the OP]
I'd do whatever I need to do to support this. I see two issues to keep me from diving in and claiming this yet unmade set for my own; 1.) Mr. Fischer is working on a fr/soph tournament set that I intend to mirror with modifications. 2.) The suggested completion date of April is one month after my established tournament date (3/13/09) which I worked hard to claim as my own. The only MS Saturday tournament in Chicagoland is the Antioch Tourney, which uses QG and has relatively weak attendance. Despite my respect for its host, it wouldn't be a tough choice if a high-level, good quizbowl question set was available elsewhere.
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: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by Stephen Colbert »

If this does happen and Mr. Price doesn't claim the set, I would highly consider hosting a mirror in central Illinois (assuming I can secure a location and that no other schools in the area were interested in hosting). I'd be willing to contribute to the set as well.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by brenlee »

I'd be willing to help edit or to help anyone else write a packet. Also, we'd be interested in competing in a middle school tournament.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by Dan-Don »

I would just like to say that I'm currently writing a middle school tournament (to be played on October 20th) that is almost exactly like what you're proposing. Only problem is that I had to include comp. math and it's only 4 rounds. Otherwise, I would say that is of good quality. If you want to take a look at one of the packets, email me.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by Kwang the Ninja »

This is a wonderful idea, and I would be completely willing to contribute my writing abilities to this project. My email is acousticguita[email protected], and I can begin writing now for this. I also like the idea of writing a middle school nationals, but we should definitely have a early spring tournament to gauge interest before we try to write/organize a national championship.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by Matt Weiner »

I had a chance to talk to some people who are interested in helping with this (hopefully once their HSAPQ commitments are squared away...) in Minnesota and we came up with some ideas for how to translate good quizbowl principles to the realities of middle school competition.

We thought that it might be a good idea to make tossups 3 to 4 lines long and include both 20-point super-powers and 15-point powers in each tossup. The goals of doing so are twofold: to justify including some slightly harder material by rewarding it with more points, and to provide additional incentive for players to buzz in early. We've all seen that new players on every level, and especially those who are younger, can sometimes be hesitant to play aggressively, and we're worried about whether people will play pyramidal tossups the right way at the middle school level. Always having the 20 and 15 point possibilities out there should help give players that push.

We also think that 20-point bonuses will allow us to preserve the progressive-difficulty idea without writing a lot of too-hard parts like full packets of 30-point bonuses might.

Here is a distribution that we came up with to balance the need for maintaining an academic set with some of the facts we have to deal with (such as the non-wisdom of writing 4/4 non-trash literature per round for the middle school level):

4/4 history and government (american, european, and world history; american government)
4/3 non-math science (biology/life sciences, physical sciences, earth science, astronomy)
1/2 math (a conceptual math tossup and two math calculation bonuses. tossups will be prose questions with answers like "angles" or "the distributive property"--there will be no calculation tossups. bonuses will be short math calculation problems requiring knowledge up to the Algebra I level to work for a numerical answer in about 10 seconds.)
2/2 academic literature (american, british, european, and world "serious literature" goes here)
2/2 juvenile literature, sports, and other popular culture (harry potter-type books will go in this category. this category will also contain questions on sports, movies, music, television, comic books, video games, and popular music.)
1/1 current events (american and foreign)
1/1 geography (american, european, and world)
1/1 religion (bible, other christian religion topics, judaism and islam, eastern religions)
1/1 mythology (greek and roman, norse, egyptian, etc)
1/1 visual arts (painting, sculpture, architecture, photography)
1/1 auditory arts (the academic music tradition, jazz, dance, opera)
1/1 vocabulary and general knowledge (all questions that are academic but not a good fit for any other category, including cross-disciplinary questions, as well as the odd question on categories such as social science and philosophy that normally appear in high school level quizbowl but don't have enough accessible answers to guarantee a fixed place for in every game of a middle school tournament)

What do people think?
Matt Weiner
Founder of hsquizbowl.org

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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by jonah »

Mostly I like it, but a few thoughts:
*Some non-American government questions should be possible, for example, "(houses of) parliament" or similar. There probably aren't a lot of such answers that would be accessible, but there are a few, and we may as well not exclude them.
*2/2 juvenile literature seems like a lot, though I understand that 3/3 academic lit might be hard to do and that having 4/4 lit is desirable.
*I think it would be nice to have 1/1 trash. Trash is fun, and middle schoolers are likely to put more store in having quizbowl be fun than are college and even high school players. What about reducing to 1/1 juvenile lit and adding 1/1 trash?

I hope this happens. Depending on the timeline (particularly if it gets going after the new year), I might be willing to help out.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by Whiter Hydra »

jonah wrote:*2/2 juvenile literature seems like a lot, though I understand that 3/3 academic lit might be hard to do and that having 4/4 lit is desirable.
*I think it would be nice to have 1/1 trash. Trash is fun, and middle schoolers are likely to put more store in having quizbowl be fun than are college and even high school players. What about reducing to 1/1 juvenile lit and adding 1/1 trash?
The juvenile literature also includes trash, from what I read.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

jonah wrote:*2/2 juvenile literature seems like a lot, though I understand that 3/3 academic lit might be hard to do and that having 4/4 lit is desirable.
*I think it would be nice to have 1/1 trash. Trash is fun, and middle schoolers are likely to put more store in having quizbowl be fun than are college and even high school players. What about reducing to 1/1 juvenile lit and adding 1/1 trash?
2/2 juvenile literature, sports, and other popular culture (harry potter-type books will go in this category. this category will also contain questions on sports, movies, music, television, comic books, video games, and popular music.)
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by the return of AHAN »

Matt Weiner wrote:I had a chance to talk to some people who are interested in helping with this (hopefully once their HSAPQ commitments are squared away...) in Minnesota and we came up with some ideas for how to translate good quizbowl principles to the realities of middle school competition.

We thought that it might be a good idea to make tossups 3 to 4 lines long and include both 20-point super-powers and 15-point powers in each tossup. The goals of doing so are twofold: to justify including some slightly harder material by rewarding it with more points, and to provide additional incentive for players to buzz in early. We've all seen that new players on every level, and especially those who are younger, can sometimes be hesitant to play aggressively, and we're worried about whether people will play pyramidal tossups the right way at the middle school level. Always having the 20 and 15 point possibilities out there should help give players that push.

We also think that 20-point bonuses will allow us to preserve the progressive-difficulty idea without writing a lot of too-hard parts like full packets of 30-point bonuses might.

Here is a distribution that we came up with to balance the need for maintaining an academic set with some of the facts we have to deal with (such as the non-wisdom of writing 4/4 non-trash literature per round for the middle school level):

4/4 history and government (american, european, and world history; american government)
4/3 non-math science (biology/life sciences, physical sciences, earth science, astronomy)
1/2 math (a conceptual math tossup and two math calculation bonuses. tossups will be prose questions with answers like "angles" or "the distributive property"--there will be no calculation tossups. bonuses will be short math calculation problems requiring knowledge up to the Algebra I level to work for a numerical answer in about 10 seconds.)
2/2 academic literature (american, british, european, and world "serious literature" goes here)
2/2 juvenile literature, sports, and other popular culture (harry potter-type books will go in this category. this category will also contain questions on sports, movies, music, television, comic books, video games, and popular music.)
1/1 current events (american and foreign)
1/1 geography (american, european, and world)
1/1 religion (bible, other christian religion topics, judaism and islam, eastern religions)
1/1 mythology (greek and roman, norse, egyptian, etc)
1/1 visual arts (painting, sculpture, architecture, photography)
1/1 auditory arts (the academic music tradition, jazz, dance, opera)
1/1 vocabulary and general knowledge (all questions that are academic but not a good fit for any other category, including cross-disciplinary questions, as well as the odd question on categories such as social science and philosophy that normally appear in high school level quizbowl but don't have enough accessible answers to guarantee a fixed place for in every game of a middle school tournament)

What do people think?
This sounds good, but I disagree with making the format different (superpowers & 2-part bonuses) from what an ordinary high school tournament would be. The NU Jr. Wildcat managed to use 3-part bonuses and things were fine, with plenty of sweeps.
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: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by jonah »

Argh, I'm so bad at reading. I guess my only quibble, then, is the government issue, which is pretty minor.

While I think an individual tournament could manage three-part bonuses, as Mr. Wehrman's tournament demonstrated, I suspect that after one or two such tournaments, the answer space would be pretty thoroughly exhausted. Perhaps I will be proven wrong.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by David Riley »

I like this idea as well, and would be willing to help out in any way I can.

This might have been addressed further upthread, but might I further suggest that we have "regional" tournaments before hand, leading up to a middle school "national"?
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by Awehrman »

I think this question distribution seems well thought out and should be doable. I think you might run up against some complaints about the seeming lack of math, but I don't think that is any reason to change it. It won't take long to find which subjects are deeper than others. I would suggest writing 2/2 in American history, since European and world history get thin pretty quickly. You might consider including a Language Arts subdistribution (or include it somewhere) for questions on grammar and so forth (an important part of middle school curricula). I would also encourage asking questions about vocabulary in bonuses (and perhaps tossups) in all categories.

I'll echo Mr. Price's concerns over changing the question format. It seems counter-intuitive to me if your goal is to introduce new material and reward deep knowledge to include powers and super-powers in tossups and then only have two-part bonuses. I did not have any problem writing 3-part bonuses, and I think it helped create the ideal distribution of points in terms of bonus conversion. If anything, I made my bonuses too easy. Students seemed to understand how to play pyramidal questions quite intuitively. I think the introduction of powers and super-powers might be interesting, but I think it might also lead to increased recklessness and frustration.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by dtaylor4 »

Depending on the timing, I would be more than happy to contribute questions to this set.

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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by at your pleasure »

How would one write a pyramidal question on grammar? Would it emphasize linguistic clues or usage clues? It seems eminently doable, but I'm just wondering what they look like.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by cvdwightw »

Awehrman wrote:I think this question distribution seems well thought out and should be doable. I think you might run up against some complaints about the seeming lack of math, but I don't think that is any reason to change it. It won't take long to find which subjects are deeper than others. I would suggest writing 2/2 in American history, since European and world history get thin pretty quickly. You might consider including a Language Arts subdistribution (or include it somewhere) for questions on grammar and so forth (an important part of middle school curricula). I would also encourage asking questions about vocabulary in bonuses (and perhaps tossups) in all categories.

I'll echo Mr. Price's concerns over changing the question format. It seems counter-intuitive to me if your goal is to introduce new material and reward deep knowledge to include powers and super-powers in tossups and then only have two-part bonuses. I did not have any problem writing 3-part bonuses, and I think it helped create the ideal distribution of points in terms of bonus conversion. If anything, I made my bonuses too easy. Students seemed to understand how to play pyramidal questions quite intuitively. I think the introduction of powers and super-powers might be interesting, but I think it might also lead to increased recklessness and frustration.
While I understand this, the majority of writers for this hypothetical tournament will already be overshooting the target difficulty. Toning down one bonus part is a lot easier than two. Especially if some sort of cooperative develops around this idea and tries to do two tournaments (say a fall and a spring set, or a states and nationals set), it is going to be progressively more difficult to come up with acceptable answers that do not seem stale.

The biggest thing that the Wildcat format has going for it is that it prepares middle school students quite well for ACF-style high school play. In fact, that is the biggest argument for keeping three-part bonuses. I'm not sold on the idea of superpowers, mainly because no mainstream high school format includes superpowers (on the other hand, NAQT has questions about this length and includes powers).

I'd be interested to see the thoughts of middle school coaches on whether or not negs are a good idea at this level.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by Charbroil »

I'm also not a huge fan of the idea of 2 part bonuses, given that I don't see them saving much time for editors. The way I see it, the hard part of a 3 part mACF middle school bonus would be in the middle part range of the Fall Novice Set, and so if the middle part of this set is like a Fall Novice easy part, it shouldn't be hard for decent writers to come up with one part easier than Fall Novice. I'd imagine that the main fallacy of writers in this tournament would be to write bonuses more like Fall Novice bonuses than middle school bonuses (I certainly hope no one would submit anything harder than that!), and if so, it would be easy for the editors to throw out the hard part and write an easy part. If we instituted 2 part bonuses, the same people would probably write bonuses that look like easy/medium parts on the Fall Novice set, requiring editors to, again, throw out the hardest part and write an easier part. Thus, there's really nothing to be gained in editing time by a 2 part bonus, in my mind.

As for whether there's sufficient canon space for a 3 part bonus, given my scheme detailed above, the canon for 2 bonus parts is already established in the Fall Novice set--the only part which would have to be developed would be an even easier part, which I don't think would be hard, especially given the discussion of alternative easy parts going on in the discussion thread on easy parts.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by Kouign Amann »

cvdwightw wrote: I'd be interested to see the thoughts of middle school coaches on whether or not negs are a good idea at this level.
I think the idea of being locked out of the tossup and subsequent bonus should be kept, but I wouldn't be sad to see the -5 go. Perhaps we should leave out both the superpowers (I'm not a fan at this level), and the negs, resulting in a 15/10/0 scoring system, which I think would still encourage buzzing satisfactorily. I am also curious as to people's thoughts on bouncebacks. I think that a chance to reward the demonstration of extra knowledge at this level can be important. The more a kid can say "Hey! I know stuff, and I just got 10 points for knowing it!," the more fun he will have.

I reiterate my offer to write or edit some part of this.
Aidan Mehigan
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by Charbroil »

I didn't think of bouncebacks--those are a good idea to have at this level, for the reasons Aidan mentioned.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

Charbroil wrote:I'm also not a huge fan of the idea of 2 part bonuses, given that I don't see them saving much time for editors. The way I see it, the hard part of a 3 part mACF middle school bonus would be in the middle part range of the Fall Novice Set, and so if the middle part of this set is like a Fall Novice easy part, it shouldn't be hard for decent writers to come up with one part easier than Fall Novice. I'd imagine that the main fallacy of writers in this tournament would be to write bonuses more like Fall Novice bonuses than middle school bonuses (I certainly hope no one would submit anything harder than that!), and if so, it would be easy for the editors to throw out the hard part and write an easy part. If we instituted 2 part bonuses, the same people would probably write bonuses that look like easy/medium parts on the Fall Novice set, requiring editors to, again, throw out the hardest part and write an easier part. Thus, there's really nothing to be gained in editing time by a 2 part bonus, in my mind.

As for whether there's sufficient canon space for a 3 part bonus, given my scheme detailed above, the canon for 2 bonus parts is already established in the Fall Novice set--the only part which would have to be developed would be an even easier part, which I don't think would be hard, especially given the discussion of alternative easy parts going on in the discussion thread on easy parts.
OK, having edited about a third of the Fall Novice set, I'd have to say you're wrong here. Finding an easy part wasn't that bad, but finding a reasonable hard part got very difficult very quickly. I'm not sure how I feel about two part bonuses, but writing three part ones at this level would most likely not be as easy as you seem to think. It all sounds great in theory, but unless the distribution change opens up more material to go into fewer questions, trying to find reasonable hard parts may be quite difficult. Best of luck to those who end up working on this, regardless of the final format.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot »

MLWGS-Gir wrote:
Charbroil wrote:I'm also not a huge fan of the idea of 2 part bonuses, given that I don't see them saving much time for editors. The way I see it, the hard part of a 3 part mACF middle school bonus would be in the middle part range of the Fall Novice Set, and so if the middle part of this set is like a Fall Novice easy part, it shouldn't be hard for decent writers to come up with one part easier than Fall Novice. I'd imagine that the main fallacy of writers in this tournament would be to write bonuses more like Fall Novice bonuses than middle school bonuses (I certainly hope no one would submit anything harder than that!), and if so, it would be easy for the editors to throw out the hard part and write an easy part. If we instituted 2 part bonuses, the same people would probably write bonuses that look like easy/medium parts on the Fall Novice set, requiring editors to, again, throw out the hardest part and write an easier part. Thus, there's really nothing to be gained in editing time by a 2 part bonus, in my mind.

As for whether there's sufficient canon space for a 3 part bonus, given my scheme detailed above, the canon for 2 bonus parts is already established in the Fall Novice set--the only part which would have to be developed would be an even easier part, which I don't think would be hard, especially given the discussion of alternative easy parts going on in the discussion thread on easy parts.
OK, having edited about a third of the Fall Novice set, I'd have to say you're wrong here. Finding an easy part wasn't that bad, but finding a reasonable hard part got very difficult very quickly. I'm not sure how I feel about two part bonuses, but writing three part ones at this level would most likely not be as easy as you seem to think. It all sounds great in theory, but unless the distribution change opens up more material to go into fewer questions, trying to find reasonable hard parts may be quite difficult. Best of luck to those who end up working on this, regardless of the final format.
I agree with Sarah 100% here. Additionally, I'm going to disagree with you on the ease of finding even easier parts. I suppose there is a pretty sizable set of answers that are "elementary school easy", e.g. George Washington, Mark Twain, or Zeus. However, once you leave that set of answers and go to things like Peter the Great or Oscar Wilde, you probably begin to run into problems with easy parts. How does one write a sensible bonus on Peter the Great without him being the easy part? Theoretically, Russia is an easier answer, but that'll devolve into a geography bonus (what are an easier/more gettable clues for Russia that aren't either amazingly linguistically fraudable (name this country where everyone is named Masha and Sasha!) or geographical (Moscow! St. Petersburg!)?) Basically, I don't think you could write an entire tournament that only had bonuses on "elementary school easy" answers. Also, I'd support two part bonuses. When writing a low level tournament, you run out of answers really, really quickly.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by Stained Diviner »

If the second part of a bonus was Peter the Great, all you would need to do for an easy part would be to ask which country was run by Peter the Great. If you wanted to make it more interesting and still historical, you could say that it was also run by Catherine the Great and Ivan the Terrible and was the largest part of the Soviet Union.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by the return of AHAN »

Where on Earth is this idea of running out of askable middle-school topics coming from?

What? You think you'll write one tournament and suddenly...
Image
We've reached the end of the canon!

Lord in heaven, QG puts out, quite literally, over a thousand middle school TU annually and somehow they don't seem to run out of ideas for answer space.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by the return of AHAN »

cvdwightw wrote: I'd be interested to see the thoughts of middle school coaches on whether or not negs are a good idea at this level.
In the words of Jonah Greenthal, "No, don't."

If the idea is to encourage them to buzz, then you absolutely don't want to rap their knuckles for doing so.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by jonah »

Woody Paige wrote:In the words of Jonah Greenthal, "No, don't."
That's both a misquote and a misattribution. :-/
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot »

Shcool wrote:If the second part of a bonus was Peter the Great, all you would need to do for an easy part would be to ask which country was run by Peter the Great. If you wanted to make it more interesting and still historical, you could say that it was also run by Catherine the Great and Ivan the Terrible and was the largest part of the Soviet Union.
What are some easy enough clues for Peter the Great that don't involve the words "Russian" and "Russia"? Banned beards? Founded a namesake city? Modernized his country? Simply, I don't think that 90% of middle schoolers really know a large amount about Peter the Great other than that he was Russian. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Woody Paige wrote:Where on Earth is this idea of running out of askable middle-school topics coming from?
Experience writing good tournaments at a slightly higher difficulty level and having analogous problems that presage just that problem at a lower level.

[quote|Lord in heaven, QG puts out, quite literally, over a thousand terrible middle school TU annually and somehow they don't seem to run out of ideas for answer space.[/quote]
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by Self-incompatibility in plants »

I'd be more than willing to help out with this in any facet possible, most likely with writing questions. Just get in contact with me some time.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by the return of AHAN »

jonah wrote:
Woody Paige wrote:In the words of Jonah Greenthal, "No, don't."
That's both a misquote and a misattribution. :-/
Why is this something I remember seeing lots of when reading comments from the chief editor of the 2009 BIT? Was it Garb writing that?
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
Experience writing good tournaments at a slightly higher difficulty level and having analogous problems that presage just that problem at a lower level.
OK, fair enough. But can we wait for an actual collaborative tournament to be produced before we declare the MS canon to be exhausted?
Lord in heaven, QG puts out, quite literally, over a thousand terrible middle school TU annually and somehow they don't seem to run out of ideas for answer space.
I have found the explanation deep within your mind
:grin: I knew I'd stir it up with that! But really, even if you throw out all the funn and unaskable topics they do toss-up, there's still plenty of topics to be mined. I think Middle Schoolers know more than some of you give them credit for. In fact, I find, when reading varsity questions, that well over half the things can be answered by my MS team at the giveaway. The key is to write nice, pyramidal TU that actually teach them a thing or 2. Last year's BIT tossed-up "Martial law" and had a great lead-in about the Posse Comitatus Act. Did anyone buzz it there? No, but the kids perhaps learned something, and yes, it got scored on more than it went dead. We also tossed-up Teddy Roosevelt, which got buzzed as early as the mention of the Treaty of Portsmouth in the first line. Oh, some of the B teams needed to hear about the bears in political cartoons, but you get the point, I hope.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by cvdwightw »

I don't think anyone is questioning whether the middle school canon is expansive enough to write a full tournament or two tournaments. We are questioning whether it is wise to include the third part of a bonus when that might just as easily be used as a lead-in to a future tossup. Say what you want about the abilities of middle schoolers, but the middle school canon will never be as expansive as the novice high school canon, which many mainstream writers struggle with.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by cvdwightw »

Please keep all discussion of the style/difficulty/etc. of the tournament in this thread. If you would like to commit to writing 10/10 for this tournament in three installments, or would like to sign on for a leadership role, please do that over here.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by the return of AHAN »

Given the fact that I already have a "Brad Fischer" set lined up for the 2010 Barrington (MS) Invitational (3.13.10), I'm going to lay back and see what kind of interest there is in hosting this tournament. I'd like to see some new blood in Chicagoland step to the fore and claim the set (but not my date, please).
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by Stained Diviner »

Terrible Shorts Depot wrote:
Shcool wrote:If the second part of a bonus was Peter the Great, all you would need to do for an easy part would be to ask which country was run by Peter the Great. If you wanted to make it more interesting and still historical, you could say that it was also run by Catherine the Great and Ivan the Terrible and was the largest part of the Soviet Union.
What are some easy enough clues for Peter the Great that don't involve the words "Russian" and "Russia"? Banned beards? Founded a namesake city? Modernized his country? Simply, I don't think that 90% of middle schoolers really know a large amount about Peter the Great other than that he was Russian. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
Fair enough. It would be better to make Russia the easy 2nd part, mentioning some of the other things I said, and then make Peter the middle 3rd part.

As to the other argument, I'm of the opinion that you could write a middle school tournament in the same format as a high school or college tournament as long as you adjusted the distribution along the lines Matt suggested above. It seemed to me that some of the forced Novice questions came from a desire to include significant amounts of Philosophy, Econ, and Social Science even though the target audience doesn't know significant amounts about those subjects.

Also, we'll be more popular if we don't subtract points for negs. Of course, that's also something that could be left up to the hosts.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by the return of AHAN »

Say, I was just thinking...
Every year, at the IESA Coach's Workshop, they set up an easel for coaches to write down available tournaments and contact info. This Friday, should I post something to the effect that this tournament is available to mirror for $0 in exchange for publishing stats? If I did such a thing, who should I list as the contact person?
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by cvdwightw »

Jeff, I don't know how the IESA workshop works. If you think that writing information on an easel will be effective in getting a mirror in Illinois (especially since we are significantly undercutting any for-profit group's question fee), then do so. I believe our available competition dates match up well with the middle to late IESA season. We have enough writers and (potential) editors signed on to currently produce an eight-packet tournament which should be sufficient (if not ideal) for a middle school tournament. Our contact person will be the Marketing Director, which as you can see from the other thread no one has volunteered for yet. Given that the meeting will likely occur before we can formally approve a Marketing Director, I suppose you can list my contact info for now but make sure that people know that once the project gets rolling, they will likely be in correspondence with someone in a more official position.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by the return of AHAN »

Yeah, so has anyone claimed this set in the state of Illinois?
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by majadirks »

I would be willing to help write questions for this, and might be able to get a mirror going in Seattle.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by majadirks »

Whoops... I just saw the sign-up thread. Seems I've missed a few too many deadlines to be helpful at this point.
Matthew Dirks - U Chicago
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My favorite non-pyramidal question:
"These real or imaginary people had unusual features with respect to what part of their bodies?
Erik in 'The Phantom of the Opera'; Severus Snape in the Harry Potter books; Socrates; Tycho Brahe; The Duke of Wellington; Cyrano de Bergerac"
Answer: nose(s)
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by cvdwightw »

majadirks wrote:Whoops... I just saw the sign-up thread. Seems I've missed a few too many deadlines to be helpful at this point.
We still have two months of writing and editing to go, and can always use more writers, even if they sign up late. Contact Donald Taylor for access to the question/answer documents.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by btressler »

cvdwightw wrote: -Three-line, pyramidal tossups and progressive-difficulty bonuses of no more than one line per part. I believe this is the best compromise between good quizbowl and what middle schoolers can actually handle.
You are accurate in this statement, at least based on our experience.

Our tournament last Saturday used 4 and 5 line tossups. The typical reaction (especially from the parents) was: "they're not buzzing until the end, so why not shorten the questions?"

Next year I am going back to 2 and 3 liners I think.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by the return of AHAN »

Bad Boy Bill wrote:
cvdwightw wrote: -Three-line, pyramidal tossups and progressive-difficulty bonuses of no more than one line per part. I believe this is the best compromise between good quizbowl and what middle schoolers can actually handle.
You are accurate in this statement, at least based on our experience.

Our tournament last Saturday used 4 and 5 line tossups. The typical reaction (especially from the parents) was: "they're not buzzing until the end, so why not shorten the questions?"

Next year I am going back to 2 and 3 liners I think.
Bill,
Will questions from this tournament be available? I'd be interested in seeing them, if only to use in practices.
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Re: Proposing: Collaborative Middle School Tournament

Post by btressler »

They are being mirrored in Illinois by David Riley, next week I believe.

Eventually, they will land here:

http://www.charterschool.org/clubs/acad ... stions.php
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