. . . . And see Set-up Procedures below.
Best Ball Challenges
Here are some tips for playing a round of Best Ball
Click the link above and follow the procedures for setting up a game of Best Ball on the MeetingWords collaborative word processor. Find them directly bellow this. Once you have set up a pad for a group of players, you can use these tips for having a successful experience.
1) Use the numbers provided along the left-hand side of the pad as a shared reference to identify the individual posts.
2) Leave a space between each posted sentence.
3) Try to restrict each post to a single sentence. (Occasionally two independent clauses yoked by a semicolon or a colon may be acceptable.)
4) You might try limiting the number of words allowed in the sentence, say, to 15 to 20 words or, for fun, four words. Now the game become an exercise in sentence length modulation. You can experiment with other constraints: Must begin with a adverb; must have two independent clauses joined by a semicolon; must include a series; must end in an unforeseeable twist; or must include a particular word.
5) When the time comes to vote for the best sentence, use the chat box at the lower right of the screen to record the vote from each player. Count "1, 2, 3, VOTE!" and have everyone simultaneously enter the line number of their pick. This way no one is influenced by other players' choices. (If there is a tie, hold a quick face-off between the two contenders.)
6) The winning post is now preserved. Upgrade it to boldface type, and erase all the other posts. (They will be stored in the TimeSlider feature if you need to revisit them.)
7) Now you can discuss the winner. How did it do it? You might decide to tweak it a bit by consensus before proceeding to the next round. (After all, sentence-crafting is at the heart of the game.) Maybe you will now agree on some general parameters for the next sentence, or you might want to set a specific stylistic constraint. Or you might just let the sentences fly and see where they land.
Best Ball: The Game
Will your sentence be the Next Sentence?
The game of Next Sentence Best Ball is a collaborative writing exercise in which students compete to have their sentence chosen by their classmates to be the next sentence in a paragraph. It's based loosely on a game golfers play called Best Ball. Each golfer in a group of, say, four drives a ball off the tee. Next, they decide which of them has hit the best ball. The whole group now moves to the spot where the best ball lies, and they all hit their next ball from there and once again choose whose shot was best. They proceed in this fashion until one of them drops a ball into the cup, and the round is over.
In Next Sentence Best Ball each member of a class tees off with a first sentence for a writing exercise. (The subject, thesis, argument, or plot should be foreseen and agreed upon like the boundaries of the course are in golf Best Ball.) The class then votes for the best sentence, and it is preserved. All players then write a next sentence hoping it will be selected as the best one to follow. One is selected and the game moves on sentence-by-sentence, paragraph-by-paragraph until class is over or everyone agrees that the essay is complete.
Remember that this is a game. Don't expect much from the final product. In the end, what gets created may not be a very good stand-alone essay. In fact, it will most likely be pretty shabby. But what what has taken place in building it can be of real value. The discussion that leads to the selection of the best sentence will exercise a student's critical vocabulary and sharpen his or her critical skills. The challenge players face in taking a shot at creating the best next sentence will be a sort of mental calisthenic that will exercise and test their ability to build strong, attractive sentences. The value of the game is in the process not the product.
The version of the game available here on the NextSentence website (use the link above the "How to Play" tab) takes place on the internet interactive platform MeetingWords.
All players can submit their sentences anonymously, and the sentences that are not selected can be removed from sight, but are stored in the TimeSlider so they can be retrieved at any time.
SAD NOTE: TitanPad, which was the original platform for NextSentence BestBall, shut down in October of 2017. MeetingWords is the best replacement I could find. It appears to be, on the one hand, a little less powerful that the mighty TitanPad, but that may mean that it will prove easier to use. Please let me know what you think at: email@example.com
How to launch a round of Best Ball and some possible Best Ball games for writing challenges.
In each case you would open a Best Ball "pad" using the link at the top of this page that will take you to EduPad, which is Internet platform that will let you host your own game. It's a Swiss creation (based on the open source platform EtherPad). You can convert the German to English with Google Translate. (A translate box should pop up when your open EduPad. Once you have launched the site, you should see this screen:
1) Now go down to the blue rectangular button which says, "Create a Free Pad" Click it. The next screen will look like this:
2) You now will want to invite the players to join the game. Click on the little blue box at the far upper right-hand side of the page. A window will appear with a URL address highlighted in it. Copy this link and then paste it into an email message or an instant message that you will send to all or each of the players that you want to invite to join in the game. Once they have responded by clicking the link, you will see their names appear in the upper right-hand box.
3) Now open the pull-down menu labeled "Pad Options" at the top of the page on the MeetingWords task bar. Unselect the "Authorship colors" option. (This will assure the anonymity of the players.) Select the "Line numbers" option, so that each submission will be identifiable when it comes time to vote for the best one.
4) You are now ready to play. Present the players with a challenge. (There is a selection of Best Ball Challenges here.)
5) After everyone has posted a sentence in response to a particular challenge, you now must vote for the best one using the "Chat" box at the lower left of the screen. A designated leader calls "vote" after a 3-2-1 countdown, and each player posts the number of his or her choice for the best sentence. The winning sentence (or word) remains on the pad and the other submissions are erased. (A record is kept of all the posting in the "TimeSlider" feature up on the taskbar.) Each player now posts a next sentence on the pad and the game continues.