Ed Tech Tips with E. Mosier

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Bring March Madness into the Classroom


Last week, I explained a neat site known as Brackify, that allows you to create brackets on pretty much anything, including March Madness teams. But, what if students looked at this college basketball tournament through a different lens? How else could the idea of March Madness, or even a bracket, surface in the classroom to allow students to learn a concept, all while engaging them in the excitement of the tournament. There are several ideas out there for doing this, but a few favorites are described below.

A Google Tour of the Campuses

One of the many cool things about the tournament is that it brings teams together from all four corners of the US, and includes some lesser-known colleges and universities. A neat way to learn about each of these schools is to create a Google Tour using Google Tour Builder. Integrating with Google Maps, students can select different campuses or buildings on a specific campus, and zoom in to street level, and maybe even see what it's like to stand at center court of the team's basketball arena! They can then set pins on each location, and add information about the university to create a truly interactive experience.

A Google Sheet of Tuition

Currently, a teacher at my middle school, Mitch Hines, has his students track the tuition of these colleges. They gather data of tuition from two separate years, then apply a formula to figure out the percent increase in tuition each year, and then they find the average of those values to determine their final number. This is a project that lends itself well to Google Sheets or even Slides, in a jigsaw format. If each student was assigned a row or a slide, they could fill in their own data, and then create charts of it. Each chart could then be pasted on a tab for each student/team, or onto a Google Slides presentation to be a seamless virtual representation of the findings. Then, make the chart the colors of the university for a completely customized look!

A Showcase of School Spirit

If you really want to dive in to the facts and research of each college and university, then turn your school into a "Showcase of School Spirit." Teachers could be assigned a college or university from the tournament and do a little research to create a poster or decorate their door to promote their assigned school. This is currently done at our school, in conjunction with our AVID coordinator, Nick Newman. We create posters for each university in Slides, on an 8.5" x 11" sheet, and allow for teachers to input pieces of information on the college. New this year, I added a QR code so anyone wanting to know more about that school could simply scan that, and it would take them to that college's website. Then, the winner of the tournament receives cookies for the teacher and their AP. It's a fun way to learn about college, while having fun, and learning a little about the schools that make up March Madness. If you're interested in seeing an example if what was created, please check out our Slides presentation of colleges and universities.

Design the Championship Banner!

A lasting memory of winning any championship is the trophy or the banner that teams receive. The trophies find their way into a case for many years. But, the banners hang in arenas for all spectators to see each time they attend the game in the future. How cool would it be to have students design those? They could design a basic banner, or one for a specific university using their colors and logo. Provide them with a template in Google Drawings, and then let their creative minds go to work!

Advertise a College or University

Each school that makes the tournament represents a rich tradition of sports, academics, and tradition. There are proud staff members, students, and alumni of each college represented that are happy to share their thoughts and feelings about their beloved school. Once students do a little research, they can develop a 30 second commercial advertising the school using Flipgrid! They can become the experts of the school, and then promote that using the short video can be really engaging!

Additional Ideas

If directly incorporating the tournament into your lesson plans isn't feasible, there are a couple other ideas that could be done during this time period:

The Book Bracket: This is a suggestion that came from an elementary teacher, Elizabeth McCartney. Instead of using a bracket that is displayed in the hallway or in a classroom, have the students develop a Google Drawing of a bracket that allows the student to have control over the content and look of it. They can then rank the books and stories that they have read up to this point in the year, to see how they fare in a bracket setting!

The Music Bracket: Almost identical to the Book Bracket is the music bracket. A few years back, our music teachers gathered staff-suggested songs and put them in a bracket setting. Students then voted using Google Forms, and it became an interactive hallway project that students really enjoyed. They were able to follow the bracket as it reached the Elite 8 and Final Four stages, and "cheer on" the song they felt best completed the bracket. This was displayed in the hallway outside the music classrooms, making it visually appealing for all who walked by it throughout the school day.

School Spirit Day: The simplest form of incorporating the tournament into a school or classroom is to simply have a school spirit day! Have students wear clothing of the college of their choice. Staff can then represent their alma mater. Seeing so many colleges in the hallways can promote the importance of higher education, should the student feel that is the best path for them.

What an exciting, and glorious time of year this is! Enjoy the last few weeks of the tournament!

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