World Almania available through World Almanac Education

Jeffrey Hastings writes: \"About ten years ago, I began staging a competition in my middle school
library that taught fundamental reference and information skills using World
Almanac as the source. I called the game \"World ALMANIA,\" and it quickly
became very popular. Soon, the whole school was competing in World Almania
each year. The organizers of a regional academic competition then asked
permission to use World Almania as an activity.

Eventually the game caught the attention of World Almanac Education, who
asked me if I\'d like to share the game with other librarians and teachers. I
said yes, of course, and I\'m delighted to announce that World Almania is now
available through World Almanac Education as a companion to classroom sets
of the 2003 World Almanac and Book of Facts.In World Almania, students use World Almanac to answer questions in five
broad categories: Jocks and Joquettes (Men and women of sports), Our World
(Geography, History, Politics), Arts and Entertainment, Bad Things
(Disasters, Disease, and all things unpleasant), and Mash O\' Rama (A grab
bag of topics.) There are five different point value questions in each
category. The questions are arcane, often humorous, and are not meant to be
answerable by means other than using the almanac; teams of players have to
use their listening skills, quickly determine a subject heading, consult the
index, and skim and scan their way to the correct answer. Teams accumulate
points for correct answers and lose points for incorrect ones. The higher
point value questions can be pretty \"twisty\" with a few red herrings thrown
in--or they might ask contestants to make comparisons or do a quick
calculation based upon data in the almanac...

The game ends with an \"Ultimania\" question in which teams of players answer
a question in writing and are given the option to wager up to half their
accumulated points. It adds the opportunity for lots of interesting
finishes. World Almania makes a great library activity and is ideally suited
for play with classroom sized groups.

Here are a couple sample questions from World Almania:

--If you happen to be enjoying a warm vacation in Chad, the central African
nation, and you suddenly get the hankering to watch reruns of The Simpsons,
you may be out of luck. According to World Almanac, how many television sets
are there per thousand people in Chad?

--Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. Now, this would be
positively perfect, but, I told him I wanted to buy a bushel. (I was
persnickety in pointing out the precise particulars, but perhaps Peter Piper
was preoccupied.) Now that I have one peck of pickled peppers in my personal
possession, how many more pecks must Peter Piper produce in order to
perfectly provide for my pickled pepper purchase parameters?

Kids really enjoy answering goofy questions like these and, as they do so,
they learn the skills that are the cornerstones of research. Not only do
they learn good search skills, but they also get a sense of what\'s out there
to be discovered and they develop a familiarity with the standard formats in
which data are presented. They\'re information literacy skills that are
timeless, and they and help kids use both print and electronic resources
more effectively.

I had a great time writing the questions and accompanying materials and
working with World Almanac Education on the production of this first edition
of the game. I invite you to check it out and to let me know how you like
it, or to send me any questions you have about the game. The company markets
World Almania to middle school/junior high educators, but the game can
actually be used in, say, grades 4 and up. I have many kids come back when
they\'re in High School who want to play again!

You can find World Almania in your World Almanac Education catalog, or see
it online at

Jeffrey Hastings
School Library Media Specialist
Highlander Way Middle School,
Howell, Michigan

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