What if students were as excited about English tests as they are about trivia game shows? Based on the wildly successful You Don’t Know Jack series, Tom Snyder’s own That’s a Fact, Jack! Read transforms reading comprehension questions into a game show. And, the game’s host, Jack Patterson, is classically high-energy and endearingly annoying. That’s a Fact, Jack! Read is a series of 45 CD-ROMs for the classroom that are organized into three basic reading levels: grades 3 to 5, grades 6 to 8, and grades 8 to 10. Each CD-ROM focuses on a particular theme, such as “American History Before 1900,” and it features review questions for ten children’s favorites, such as
Little House on the Prairie
The Secret Valley
The opening screens let the player(s) choose between individual, small group, or classroom games as well as vary the length of the game (to a maximum of 30 minutes). However, if a player picks ten minutes, but at the end chooses to play another ten minutes, he or she will likely get many of the same questions.
During small group play, the group or person in the lead gets the chance to play “Use It or Lose It.” In this segment, the player decides whether a series of statements supports an assertion. This gives the leading player a chance to earn even more points, but this feature can cause a lack of exciting competition.
The questions are a stimulating mix of fact, comprehension, and supposition. We did find that some questions assumed vocabulary knowledge that students (players) might not have. Unfortunately, there is no way for a teacher to add questions or change the choice of answers, although it is possible to omit specific questions using the Administration Tool. Another valuable feature of the program is that it can track how players or teams perform.
That’s a Fact, Jack! Read isn’t designed for network play, so all the students must huddle around one keyboard. Teachers using it in a classroom environment will need a large monitor.