Thursday 15 Mar, 2012

March Madness lesson plans

It’s hard to ignore that March Madness is upon us, so why not bring the excitement into the classroom with March Madness lesson plans?

Before getting into the lessons, as a native of Illinois, I’d like to direct your attention to the fact that the term “March Madness” comes from my home state. Read about the history of March Madness and how an Illinois High School Association official came up with the name.

Reading, Writing and Language Arts March Madness lesson plans

Third-grader Jaylen King finds a college’s location with the help of teacher Jeff Lowery. Click the photo to read about Mr. Lowery’s ‘March Mania’ program, which combines social studies, math, reading, writing, and technology. Photo credit: The Blade/Lisa Dutton

An integrated poetry unit introduces genres and elements of poetry. March Madness is used as a thematic backdrop as students write poetry inspired by the sport or a team. This unit also integrates with math and social studies lesson centered on March Madness.

Pit poems head to head and let students debate to choose a winner with this poetry tournament. Students can also reflect on character relationships as they follow the Final Four mystery.

The New York Times offers a March Madness crossword puzzle, and a lesson plan to use tournament brackets to debate academic questions.

Math March Madness lesson plans

The basketball games will provide plenty of numbers for digging into percentages, mean, median, mode and averages. Check out Figure the Winner and Investigating the Mathematics of Rankings. Or, get binary with your bracket.

Social studies March Madness lesson plans

As a graduate of the University of Kansas, I would name this lesson, “What is a Jayhawk?” Actually, several team mascots would be appropriate for this lesson in which students are tasked with researching team names and mascots to learn more about the history, geography and culture of a state, city or region. (And if you can’t wait: here’s the history of What is a Jayhawk and its significance to Kansas history.)

Students can also hone their skills in reading charts and graphs, drawing conclusions from data and finding evidence to support their opinions with this reading for information lesson plan. Or get them turning data into graphics with a March Madness timeline about the tournament or the history of basketball.

This history lesson comes from, but could be adapted easily to any state or region. Students will become history detectives, learn about the geography and history of a region and examine the history of basketball. And students will flex their critical thinking muscles as they examine James Naismith’s original rules for basketball and come up with their own game and rules.

March Madness WebQuests

This WebQuest tasks students with playing different roles as they promote their city as the future home of the NCAA basketball championships. You can also get them on a March Madness web scavenger hunt to practice skills for finding useful, reliable information on the internet.

Students can also examine the tournament through the eyes of an editorial writer, historian, mathematician and songwriter. Or check out another WebQuest in which students are an athletic director, statistician, public relations specialist or coach.