Maximize Learning during the Madness of March

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Who is the best U.S. President?

(updated with the most recent links from 2/5/19 #worldgeochat “March Madness: Games in Social Studies”)

It’s one of the most wonderful times of the year: March MAPness! The weather is warming, pitchers and catchers are reporting for Spring Training, and everyone is prepping to fill out their NCAA college basketball tournament brackets…

If there’s something we love as much as creating daily news reading habits with students, it’s using events like March Madness to maximize learning about geography, history, and the Social Studies!

1) a basic understanding of how March Madness brackets work
2) a well-planned hand-drawn or digital bracket
3) a simple rubric to determine who advances

Quick google searches of some of those items will yield results like:

“Marx Madness” is a great name you could utilize for biggest influencers throughout history, for instance!

“Monarch Madness” is also a great name for analyzing which European royalties ruled best (see tweet below to learn more).

Decide what you want your Bracket Challenge to measure in your classroom — Current Events awareness? Historical research? Geography knowledge? Discussion standards? Argument constructions?

Have each student-team select 1–3 countries or states to research and use a simple rubric or class votes to advance them through the bracket so that everyone becomes aware of top countries to draft, especially in the 2nd round and beyond:

  • How many times has that state been mentioned in the news last week?
  • Are there any big events coming up that might result in more points?
  • How many points do you project your state will score next week? Why?
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Students get three draws out of a hat to select a president and get seeded after a presidential trivia contest.

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The bulletin board where Mr. Bachman’s classroom bracket is posted.

They then hold a debate tournament to see “Who is the greatest President of all time?”. Students get 2 minutes to speak about their president’s good qualities, 90 seconds to lay out all the “dirt” on their opponent and then a minute to clear anything up. The audience in the room votes on who the winner is. Get Mr. Bachman’s handout + rubric here!

This launches a debate tournament for amazing people throughout history: i.e. Who is the most influential person from the 1800’s? Who is the greatest Virginian?

Download his entire framework from TeachersPayTeachers to see how he enables students to research historical figures, think deeply about their personalities, and eventually debate in a fun, tournament-style game.

Thank Sam for sharing your Google Drive folder on this too: Let her know if you want to collaborate!

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You could map out how each team gets to the Final Four. Or study each college-town to get students more familiar with college life!

If you need a good excuse to continue filling out the actual basketball bracket with students and watching the first rounds in class — Get students researching states each school is from. Will North Carolina win? Why are there so many good basketball schools there?!

Put together a “best states” bracket to see which region wins or loses.

North / South Korea?
Ukraine / Russia?
China / Tibet, China / Hong Kong, China / South China Sea…?
Israel / Everyone surrounding them?

Duke vs. North Carolina has nothing on this debate!

Google Drive link with more details about March MAPness debates here (H/T to @WJHStoll too)!

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Founded by teachers and technologists, we turn students into FANs of learning with fantasy sports-like games for school content + current events.

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