Those of you who have ever seen my appearance on Jeopardy! (no more exclamation points after this) will recall that, during my banter with Alex, I suggest that he and I have something in common: we've both produced a Jeopardy quiz. I did mine in 8th grade at Beaumont Elementary School in Portland, Ore. No possible way to have affordable buzzers for private use in 1966, of course, so we dinged bells and the host (me) had to decide who buzzed first. I had students write the questions, and thus learned a VERY important lesson. If you let students write the questions, don't let them play with the questions they wrote. Larry Wheeler led Miss Blood's class to an enormous victory, based largely on the fact that he submitted more than half the questions (I have tried to find Larry on the Internet, and wrote the person I thought was most likely him, but got no response. Larry, where are you?)
During the 1990s, when Marlow and Rae were in middle and high school, I bought a set of buzzers ($800!) so I could organize Jeopardy games for their classrooms. I never got around to it. When I started teaching myself, I used my buzzers in my own classroom, and either read the questions or projected them using PowerPoint. If I had students write questions, I made sure they weren't answering their own (5th period got 6th period's questions, and so on).
Then, a few years ago, Mrs. S, the teacher across the hall, spotted something called Classroom Jeopardy. If you want to have six players (and we do) a complete set with software and peripherals will run you $1,000. But it is SOOOO amazing. It is basically a specialized Nintendo type game console with wireless buzzers and a PC based question authoring system that burns the game into a cartridge you insert in the back of the console. The sound effects and screen font are identical to those used in real Jeopardy, and it keeps score automatically (one small fault--fixing a scoring error is VERY time consuming). We bought two sets, one for her room and one for mine. TIP: If there's another teacher playing next door, put the antenna completely down and stand next to the control unit; make sure the teacher next door does the same and stands on the opposite side of the room from you.
Bottom line: students love it. They go nuts with enthusiasm when we play. Some of them even study up (which is the point of the game) so they can win (which, while seeming to be the point, is not the point). We pass the buzzers around among teams, so everyone gets to play. We could insist all the responses be in the form of a question, but it seems 8th graders can't handle that, and I'd rather give them points for being right then ding them for imperfect play.
Sure, writing 60 questions of the correct form is hard work, but the payoff is so enormous. As they used to say on College Bowl, "quick recall of facts is no indication of intelligence or education," but was we say in middle school, "anything that gets them to engage the material is good."