Battlevant and Sturtevingo

Your Students Will Love Battlevant and Sturtevingo

Listen to “68-BattleVant and SturteVingo…Two Zero Tech Ways to Engage Kids” on Spreaker.

A great way to engage students is to just have some fun with content. Accomplish this by mimicking two iconic American board games…Battleship and Bingo.

Certainly, most of your kids have played, or at least are familiar with both. I reworked both games for my classroom. Of course, I renamed them Battlevant and Sturtevingo. I encourage you to create your own labels for your versions of these activities.

Any time there’s material you’d like to review, Sturtevingo and Battlevant are wonderful engaging options that can be employed frequently. Battlevant is a team game.

I’ll demonstrate it as a two team contest, but it could be used with multiple teams. In Sturtevingo, every man and woman is on their own.

Two team Battlevant is played in the following way:

  • Divide the class into 2 teams
  • Secretly assign students in Team 1 a number from 1-20. Select 5 numbers as misses and assign the other 15 numbers. If there are less than 15 students in Team 1, you can award extra numbers to various kids. Repeat the same process for Team 2 with numbers 21-40.
  • Prior to the contest, project the game board.

Battlevant Game Board

Team 1 Team 2
1 2 3 4 5

6 7 8 9 10

11 12 13 14 15

16 17 18 19 20

21 22 23 24 25

26 27 28 29 30

31 32 33 34 35

36 37 38 39 40

  • Ask individual students questions about the material. If they get it right, they can select a number from the other team’s range of numbers. (Team 1 kids will select numbers from 21 to 40)
  • If they successfully uncover a student’s number, you cheerfully announce that Johnny or Janey has been sunk and put an X through their number. If a student guesses a number that is a miss, circle that number.
  • Johnny or Janey, if sunk, must then slightly turn their desks to demonstrate their damaged status. They may not answer general questions, but I like to issue “Back from the Dead” questions periodically to keep the sunk students engaged.
  • The contest ends when the questions are exhausted, or all the kids on one side are sunk.
Hacking Engagement Again

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Sturtevingo is a game that takes a bit more prep, but is easy to execute. Create at least 25 matching questions. I like to create 30 because it makes obtaining Sturtevingos even more challenging. The first portion of the period, students are working individually, or in small groups, matching concepts with descriptions like below:

  1. ______ Karma
  2. ______ Dharma
  3. ______ Khyber Pass
  4. ______ Aryans
  5. ______ Bhagavad Gita

a. Northwestern passageway for invasion and migration

b. The Hindu concept of duty

c. The law of action and reaction

d. The Hindu scripture that describes and promotes Dharma and Karma

e. Invaders, or migrants, from the west that transformed the culture of the Subcontinent

After kids have answered as many as they can, or the allotted time has expired, handout a blank Sturtevingo board:

Students will then populate the board with number letter matches. Encourage students to place the matches in a random fashion. That way, each student’s Sturtevingo board will be unique.

The matches must be accurate to count. If a student put the letter A with number 1 when the answer should be C, they cannot be awarded the square if “1C” is called. Once kids have their game boards arranged, play commences in the following fashion:

  • The teacher asks a question from the list. If a student guesses correctly, “I think letter C goes with question 1” all the students that have the 1C match on their board can place an X on that square. You write 1C on the board.
  • The student that answered correctly then walks up to the teacher and subtly points to the next question they want asked. I frequently limit the number of times any student can answer to share the wealth.
  • Play continues till a student get 5 Xs in a row.

  • Unlike regular bingo however, don’t instruct kids to clear the board after the first Sturtevingo. Just keep asking questions and announcing number letter matches. It’s even okay if some kids get 2 Sturtevingos.
  • I like to up the intensity by rewarding Sturtevingo winners. It could be classroom privileges, a free homework coupon, or any coveted reward you can think of.

The Problem:

Teachers struggle making dull content engaging.

The Solution:

Play Battlevant, or Sturtevingo.

What you can do Tomorrow:

  • Create a number of questions based on the content. If you’re going to play Sturtevingo, make the questions matching.
  • Decide if you want teams…Battlevant, or all men and women for themselves…Sturtevingo.
  • Craft some additional questions (trivial and or interesting) that can be thrown out to supplement the material. These could be used to engage students sunk in Battlevant, or could spice up the competition of either game.
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These games are a way to take dull content and make it fun and engaging.

Why Context Is Key to Engagement

Listen to “67-Context is Key to Engagement…let ReadWriteThink Help” on Spreaker.

I teach history. Even as a boy, I was a history nerd. Recently, I was enjoying the company of friends at a party. My buddies all have college degrees and are successful in their chosen professions. A historical topic surfaced.

I decided to conduct a little wine-inspired experiment. I just listened to them pontificate about a subject I knew a lot about. This is generally not my disposition when vino veritas is factored in. What took place was fascinating.

While my friends had a working understanding of the topic, their background chronology was out of whack which, of course, did a serious number on their understanding.

If intelligent adults struggle with context on what would seem common historical knowledge, it would be foolhardy to assume that k-12 students, aside from the budding history nerds, would have a clue about the order of events.

Contextual ignorance does not just apply to events, but also processes.

Students in math, science, and language arts must understand many processes like the quadratic equation, the scientific method, and MLA citation. Chronological awareness with such concepts breeds confidence, which is crucial to engagement.

Let’s inspire some of that awareness with a cool virtual timeline builder.

Hacking Engagement Again

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Last semester, my World Civ class was embarking on a unit addressing 20th Century Chinese history. My kids knew virtually nothing about this important topic. I decided the first step in this academic journey would be for my kids to create virtual timelines.

Here’s the prompt I gave students, which can easily be altered to match concepts or processes in other subjects:

  • I gave them a starting point (The Boxer Rebellion 1899) and an ending point (The Communist Victory 1949).
  • I challenged them to plot seven important events in between.
  • I required that each event include a title, the year it took place, an explanation as to why the event was important, and a public domain or creative commons image. Imagine some of the cool imagery students could find for quadratic equations and the scientific method!

The Problem

Contextual ignorance undermines engagement.

The Solution

Challenge students to build virtual timelines with ReadWriteThink.

What you can do Tomorrow

  • Create your own timeline on ReadWriteThink
  • Select an important topic
  • Formulate small discussion groups

When students are able to place events or processes in context, they become confident and engaged academic explorers.

studernt voice

When Student Voice Says a Teacher is Awesome, You Have to Listen

Few people in the education blogging and podcasting world do what James Sturtevant does: feature students in their content, truly amplifying student voice.

Check out Jim’s amazing Hacking Engagement podcast below and his show notes, which bring one teacher’s students front and center. As Jim says, “Buckle up! You’re going to love this episode.”

Listen to “65-Matthew Porricelli Preaches the Gospel of Student-Led Learning and his 4th Grade Disciples Back him 1000%” on Spreaker.

Look inside Jim’s newest book, Hacking Engagement Again: 50 Teacher Tools That Will Make Students Love Your Class.

The Gospel of Student-Led Learning

By James Sturtevant

Matthew Porricelli is a 4th grade teacher at the Mamaroneck Avenue School just outside of Manhattan. In this podcast episode, we learn about Mr. P’s classroom from expert witnesses…his students.

These kids are a joy to listen to and the things they describe should be standard operating procedure in every classroom regardless of the level. Matt focuses on these keys to a learner-centered classroom:

  • Flexible Seating
  • Student-Led Lessons
  • Passion Projects (Which the kids frequently reference during the recording)
  • Hacking Assessment
  • Student voice

Mr. P’s class sounds like a dream, but what really moved me, was the way these young folks responded to their teacher. It’s apparent that there’s a bottomless mutual affection.

This episode is golden for it’s outstanding suggestions on pedagogy, but there’s something more profound. Matt’s students are crazy about him!

As you listen to these wonderful voices, keep asking yourself, How can I create such a climate in my room, where kids absolutely love learning?

Matt’s work and his students have inspired me. I received outstanding reviews on my book Hacking Engagement. One review, however, was critical. The reader felt like my hacks were geared too much towards older kids.

If someone throws out constructive criticism, I try to swallow my ego and learn and make adjustments. Hence, I’ve had two shows this summer featuring elementary students. They’ve been wonderful episodes!

Hacking Engagement Again

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Let’s apply the Hack Learning problem-solving model and employ Matt’s students to a learner-centered classroom.

The Problem

Teachers are stuck in outdated instructional models.

The Solution

Emulate Matt Porricelli’s teaching style.

What you can do Tomorrow

  • Answer this question: What clues did you hear in the episode which would explain Matt’s kid’s deep affection for him?
  • Compile a list of ideas that emphasize student voice and determine how you could implement some in your classroom.
  • Take one of the ideas he promotes and weave it into tomorrow’s lesson.
  • Debrief students at the end of the experience.
  • Seek out a like-minded colleague who would be game to experiment with some of Matt’s techniques. This partner in crime can help you and vice-versa.

The world is changing at warp speed. Education needs to change too. Matt’s classroom is the classroom of the future. Emulate his fine example, and you too can have remarkably enthusiastic students like his.

Build your student engagement toolkit

Check out James Sturtevant’s new book, Hacking Engagement Again, available here now.

James Sturtevant author of Hacking Engagement and Hacking Engagement Again

Better Presenting for Teachers and Learners with Engagement Guru James Sturtevant

Engagement guru James Alan Sturtevant provides simple hacks for better presenting for teachers and students, from his latest book, Hacking Engagement Again: 50 Teacher Tools That Will Make Students Love Your Class.

Sturtevant, host of the Hacking Engagement Podcast, shares some of his best engagement tools and strategies for being the Sage on the Stage (yes, it’s okay when done right), but not boring students, and for eliminating those awful student-presentation days that most teachers (and students) hate.

Sturtevant shares EdPuzzle and other cool EdTech tools and a couple of tricks for engagement that don’t require any technology.

You’ll love Sturtevant’s style, in his interview for the Hack Learning Podcast, embedded above. As he says, Buckle up … you’re going to love the episode.

Engage Leaners with Better Flipped Presentations (from Hacking Engagement Again)


Okay, here’s my problem. In my World Civilization class, all my lectures are flipped. My students are remarkably complimentary of this delivery method.

I feel like my recorded lectures are far superior to my live performances. I guess that’s why I always give a thumbs-down to Pandora’s live tracks; they’re just not quite as smooth as the recorded versions. I wasn’t certain, however, that students were watching my flipped presentations in their entirety.

Hacking Engagement Again

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After all, one could copy lecture notes from a peer. That’s not being engaged; that’s being a slacker. I didn’t think it happened a lot, but I was certain it happened some. Also, I felt a bit disconnected because kids watched my flipped lectures outside of class. I wanted my students’ flipped presentation experience to be more collaborative and engaging.

When I’m stumped, I ask for help. For a more engaging flipped presentation quest, I consulted Jennifer Gonzalez’s magnificent book, The Teacher’s Guide to Tech. This downloadable resource is updated yearly. The version I’m consulting contains one hundred and thirty tech tools. I can’t wait to see what’s added next year! Jennifer’s book contains a section on flipped instruction. I found my solution in minutes!


EDpuzzle is a remarkable free tool. You simply upload your flipped video and then strategically embed prompts. It reminds me of watching an on-demand program. Many cable providers will not allow you to fast-forward, so you must watch the commercials. You can set EDpuzzle so students can’t fast-forward either! They must watch the segment and then respond to the prompt before moving on. The prompts can be multiple choice or extended response.

Another presentation hack from Hacking Engagement Again

Once kids have answered, they hit submit. Teachers can easily access student responses and see if the student even watched the video. It’s a wonderful flipped presentation accountability tool, and it even works seamlessly with Google Classroom. This tool ultimately makes flipped learning more engaging, and it solved my issue perfectly.


Create an EDpuzzle account. EDpuzzle is free and you can use your Google login.

Upload a video. Select CREATE and then NEW VIDEO or UPLOAD VIDEO. EDpuzzle has a vast library to choose from, or you can upload your own YouTube video.

Insert questions using EDpuzzle. . . .

For the rest of this Hack and 49 more from 33-year veteran teacher and student engagement guru James Sturtevant, check out Hacking Engagement Again.

Hacking Engagement Again debuts No. 1 on Amazon!

For more podcast episodes and show notes, visit

Why This Teacher Says Instant Feedback Is Where the Action Is

Listen to “63-Collaborating with Students is an Essential 21st-Century Skill…let Ann Coates Help you do it” on Spreaker.
If one were to make a list of essential educator skills for the 21st-Century, certainly, collaborating with students would be near the top.

This episode of the Hacking Engagement podcast, embedded above, features a collaboration expert: Ann Coates is a veteran high school teacher in Hanover, Massachusetts. Ann is all about giving timely and meaningful feedback to kids. In fact, she says:

Instant feedback is, where the actions is!

This attention-grabbing statement got me thinking. I get feedback from colleagues and administrators all the time. Some of it welcome, Jim, that was awesome! Some of it not, Jim, you need to improve your essential questions. In regard to constructive criticism, unless I act upon feedback promptly, I tend to forget it. So, give your kids timely feedback and then encourage them to act upon it.

Ann Coates the Pride of Hanover, Mass @annmcoates

Additionally, deliver feedback in a 21st Century fashion.

When I was young, I rarely read red pen comments in the margins of my research papers. I checked my grade, which was all the information I cared about. I’ll wager that you have a bevy of students, like the young James Sturtevant, who don’t read the important comments that you labored to write in their margins.

Sure, it’s frustrating, but it is what it is and perhaps you can adjust. Utilize some of Ann’s outstanding suggestions and watch kids begin to digest then act upon some of your constructive and helpful feedback. Observe your relationships with students evolve as your collaboration with them blossoms.

Hacking Engagement Again

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Utilize some of Ann’s outstanding suggestions and observe your relationships with students evolve as your collaboration with them blossoms. As our education system navigates to a more student-led learning template, student-teacher collaboration will no longer be a cool thing that a few teachers in the building have mastered.

It will be an essential skill that ALL educators simply must embrace.

The Problem

Teachers need to up their student collaboration game.

The Hack

Dedicate a portion of class time to student feedback and then have kids act upon that information.

What You Can Do Tomorrow

  1. Divide tomorrow’s lesson into tasks to be evaluated.
  2. Create opportunities to provide feedback on these tasks be it, peer-feedback, self-reflection, or directly from you.
  3. Include a dedicated time segment in the lesson for students to act upon feedback.
  4. Direct kids to resubmit and get additional advice.

Collaborating with kids is essential. Use Ann’s outstanding feedback strategies to build relationships and student learning.