Winnipeg teacher plans massive online quiz to bring students across Manitoba together

A Winnipeg teacher has orchestrated a gigantic, real-time online quiz with questions ranging from Minecraft to Manitoba history — and this week, he’s inviting hundreds of students across the province to join his class in the game.

George Pearce teaches Grades 7 and 8 at Gordon Bell High School. But on Thursday afternoon, he and his students will expand their classroom to reach across Manitoba, through a live stream on YouTube and the online quiz platform Kahoot.

“It started off kind of small, with a few teachers that I just connected with through a wonderful Facebook group that I’m part of,” Pearce said of the quiz idea on Tuesday, in an interview on CBC Manitoba’s Up to Speed with host Faith Fundal.

“I put it out there again, and then it just grew and grew, and I feel like it’s going to be enormous.”

The Kahoot app allows users to create and share online, real-time quizzes, where participants can share a screen, answer questions on their own devices and get points for correct answers and speed.

Players can be based anywhere — and as of Tuesday, roughly 150 teachers from across Manitoba had reached out to Pearce to participate in the mass quiz he has planned for Thursday.

The quiz app Kahoot allows users to share a screen and answer questions on their own devices, no matter where they’re based, Pearce said. (Submitted by George Pearce)

“If every one of those emails is connected to a classroom with an average size of, let’s say, 15 to 20 kids, it’s looking like we’re going to be at max capacity at certain points throughout the event on Thursday afternoon,” Pearce said Tuesday.

“I’m hoping for 2,000 at one point, at least.”

Keeping the joy in teaching

In his own classroom, Pearce said he uses the Kahoot app to ask students questions around his subjects of science and math. The fast-paced activity is a fun way to keep students engaged during a hard school year, he said.

“When I came back from my parental leave in mid-November, I quickly realized that a lot of the joyful moments in school had been kind of removed — those high fives in the hallways, those group work moments, the hands-on stuff, the science lab stuff,” he said.

“I wanted to make sure that I kept the joy in my teaching, and I know kids loved Kahoot.”

He’s already hosted one mass quiz earlier this year, with 250 students from Winnipeg, Thompson, Carman, Brandon, Portage la Prairie and more. Pearce said it’s a good way to keep students engaged and connected with each other — and good practice for remote learning.

“When we go remote, this is something that’s going to be really important, is having those exciting moments to pull kids away from their television and Internet that’s not related to school, back into school-related content,” he said.

The mass quiz on Thursday will include students of all ages, from elementary school to high school. Low-barrier questions will cover general trivia as well as things Pearce says kids are already excited about, like Minecraft and the holidays.

The fun won’t only be for the students, Pearce added.

“I wanted to give my fellow teachers a break and plan their afternoon for them. All they have to do is turn on, click the link and let their kids go,” he said.

“It’s going to be fun, engaging, valuable and it’s nothing that they have to plan for themselves.”

Teachers who want to get involved can connect with Pearce online.