One of my favorite times of the year (in the sporting world, that is) is finally heeeeeeeere! First day of SPRING and it’s March Madness!
Now, I would never classify myself as a huge college basketball fan. I really don’t watch much during the regular season, though I am a huge Ohio State fan in all sports so I will occasionally watch a game of theirs. All that being said, I just LOVE the March Madness tournament!
Every year, I fill out two brackets. One is what I call my “coin flip bracket,” where every decision is based on the flip of a quarter (heads = top team wins, tails = bottom team wins). It’s so fun to see how things work out when it’s left purely to chance! I also fill out a “date night” bracket; Justin and I each fill out a bracket and exchange them. At the end of the tournament, whoever had the better bracket gets taken out to dinner by the loser. It’s a fun excuse to go out to eat and have some fun. 🙂 **Sidenote: Justin has beaten me the last two years but I have a good feeling about this year! Time to win a date!!
I have so much fun filling out my bracket that I thought I should incorporate it into my classroom too. Here’s what I did during my planning period today: My students all got really excited when they saw the bracket! I knew it would be a fun thing for them to see and keep track of the tournament with, but then I thought about trying to make this a learning experience too. Turns out, there are a lot of ways to make the bracket fun and educational! Here are a few ideas I came up with:
Making March Madness Work in the Classroom
1. Probability For this one, you have to take rankings out of the equation. I’d phrase a question like: “If all teams had identical records, what is the probability that . . .”
- “. . . a team from the West wins the tournament?”
- “. . . a team that begins with an ‘A’ or ‘C’ wins the tournament?”
- “. . . Ohio State will win the tournament?”
- “. . . the final match-up will be between Villanova and Arizona?”
Get creative! We did probability with marbles and cards and the students all felt that it wasn’t relevant to their lives. Now is a good time to engage their attention (even if it isn’t truly chance since there are rankings in real life)
2. Statistics Use the records to your advantage! Have the students discuss a particular game (have info up on the board for those who didn’t watch) and figure out a particular player’s statistics. (i.e. “Player B made 5 of 9 shots last night. What was his percentage of made shots?”)
3. Writing assignment Have the students make-up a story about an unbelievable upset (they can pick the teams from the bracket to write about) and have them give specific details using whatever writing strategy you’re currently working on (i.e. using specific adjectives, adding proper nouns, etc)
4. Graphing Have a poll question written on the board (I’m going to let students actually write on the board since they love to do that but you could have them do it by raising their hands). For example, your question could be:
- “Who do you think will win the whole tournament?”
- “Who do you think will win the South/East/West/MidWest?”
- “Which is your favorite team still in the tournament?”
Collect student answers (you can have one student be the recorder as other students raise their hands or you can have them write their answer on the board — perhaps in simple tally form depending on how you worded the question). Then you can work on graphing the student responses in pie charts, bar graphs, etc.
5. Summary writing. Write a ton of statistics from a game that has been played up on the board and have students take that information and write a game re-cap summary. Remind them of important things summaries need (recount highlights and include major details such as the score) and have them make up a quote from a player or coach to include as practice for writing with quotations.
I’m very excited to implement this in my classroom! I’m going to just have a fun poll question on the board each day too so it stays interactive and keeps the students engaged. I think it will be fun! Please let me know if you have any other fun strategies for involving students in March Madness and I’ll gladly add them to my list!
Today’s outfit didn’t exactly scream “spring” but when it’s only gonna be a high in the mid-50s, it’s hard to go too crazy.