Open Book

(First published, February 2003)

Open Book is a quiz game that helps participants become familiar with the structure and organization of a reference manual. During the first phase of the game, individual participants review the manual and prepare 10 questions. During the second phase, participants form into teams and select their five best questions. During the third phase, you conduct a quiz program using these questions and some others that you have prepared earlier.


Any number. Best game involves 9 - 30.


40 minutes

Supplies and Equipment

  • Copies of the reference manual
  • Index cards
  • Timer
  • Whistle
  • Flip chart (for keeping score)
  • Set of prepared questions, each on an index card


Prepare a set of typical questions that participants might look up in the reference manual. Write each question on one side of an index card and the page number that contains the answer on the back.


Brief participants. Distribute copies of the reference manual to each participant. Explain that the manual will enable participants to find answers to most questions that they may have in the future.

Assign the individual task. Tell participants that they have a 10-minute “survey” assignment. During this time, they should review the manual and figure out the structure. Participants do not have to read about any specific topic in detail or memorize any information. However, they should be thoroughly familiar with the organization of manual so they can efficiently find answers to questions.

Generate questions. Distribute 10 index cards to each participant. As a part of the reading assignment, each participant should write at least five and not more than 10 questions that can be answered by referring to the manual. These questions should not be “trick” questions but should represent the types of questions that a participant may have in the future. Participants should write each question on one side of an index card and provide a page reference on the back of the card.

Announce time limit. Explain that participants have 10 minutes to complete the task. Indicate that the more questions a participant generates, the more chances she will have to receive high scores later in the game. Start the timer and begin the survey-assignment activity.

Organize new teams. At the end of 10 minutes, blow the whistle and ask participants to stop reading and writing. Ask participants to organize themselves into teams of four to six people.

Assign the team task. Ask the members of each team to share their question cards, remove duplicate questions, and select the five best questions. Announce a 5-minute time limit.

Get ready for the quiz show. Blow the whistle and collect the five question cards from each team. Tell participants that you are going to conduct a quiz show using the question cards they generated, along with a few additional questions that you prepared. This will be an open-book quiz and whichever team locates the correct information first will give the answer, reading from the document or paraphrasing the information.

Prepare for the quiz show. Review the questions generated by participants. From these questions and the ones that you had prepared earlier, select 10 good questions that will refer to different sections of the document. Make sure that these questions represent the types of questions that an advanced participant will have in the future.

Begin the quiz show. Briefly explain the following procedure:

  • I will read a question.
  • Teams can refer to the reference manual.
  • First participant to stand up gives the answer.
  • For some questions, the reference manual may not include any relevant information. In this case, the first person to stand up and proclaim that the answer cannot be found in the manual wins the points for that question.
  • If the answer appears to be incorrect, any participant from another team may challenge by giving the correct answer.
  • If there is no challenge, and if the answer is correct, the team gets 2 points. If there is no challenge, and if the answer is incorrect, nobody gets any points.
  • If there is a challenge and if the challenger is correct, challenger gets 2 points and the incorrect team loses 1 point.
  • If there is an invalid challenge (if the original answer is correct), the original team gets 2 points and challenging team loses 1 point.

Conduct the quiz show. Read the first question. Identify the person who stood up first. Listen to the answer. Listen to any challenges. Award score points. Update the flip-chart score board. If necessary, discuss the answer and clarify any misconceptions. Repeat the procedure, and continue for 10 minutes.

Identify the winning team. Congratulate members of the team with the highest score.