Yes it is that time of year when the snow begins to melt and our attention turns to warmer weather, getting outside and enjoying spring. For many others it is that magical time of year when 64 college teams for both women and men's basketball compete to determine who is the best in the nation. As a former basketball coach, I love this time of year for so many reasons. This year I have learned some cool ways to bring the tournament idea into the classroom. No we are not placing bets to who will win the NCAA tourney, but rather using the structure of a tournament to determine who is the best, or most influential person in history.
My first attempt at this came with Presidential March Madness. Students nominated and then researched a President who will face off against other presidential contenders. Students created videos and fakebook pages, fake facebook pages to provide information to their classmates. The presentations began with students watching videos about their President to the class. I have included the videos and fakebook pages below.
I have included the link to the videos here- Open Presidential Bracketology (Responses)
After students learned about the various presidents through the video and fakebook pages, they faced off against each other in a debate activity. The debates consisted of 2 minute opening statements followed by an 8 minute question and answer session where students could ask each other questions. As students became more familiar with the concept of the debate, the dialogue became more heated. Students dug up dirt on each other's president, and asked some tough questions. At times it was very intense, and I must admit very fun to watch the two go after each other's persona. Students asked questions that showed they had done research, and for the most part were able to provide good answers to those probing questions. The rest of the class got sucked into the debates, and reacted as a crowd might to a slam dunk when a tough question was asked. It was exciting and so educational.
Here is the Bracket and the Results-
I had originally wanted to complete the second half of the bracket where students completed the activity for a second president so we were able to learn about more presidents, however time has put this plan on hold. I also originally wanted to connect this activity with other classes in my school, or to other classes via Twitter, but timing became an issue. In the end this was a great lesson that I will definitely use again!
I was so inspired by this activity that I wanted to add it to other activities. I went online and found many other teachers using this Bracketology idea for most important Cold War event, most influential Egyptian Pharaoh, and so many more.
I used to do a pretty cool lesson for the Renaissance/Global Convergence where students would create interviews between Explorers and the Natives they "Discovered." Well the software that I used to use doesn't exist anymore, so here comes plan B. I sought out help from teachers that I know from twitter and several responded. I found one that connects the idea of the March Madness showdown tournament with the TV show Survivor.
This week began Survivor Renaissance. I have put the ideas on my site under the World History tab. Students were divided into tribes, chose a Renaissance figure to research, and have begun working on learning about their Renaissance person. By the end of the week they will create their poster for our meet and greet activity. Students will learn about other Renaissance people by examining the posters created by their classmates. There are individual and tribe/team challenges that make this activity more like a game than the Presidential March Madness. After the meet and greet and tribal challenges to help students better understand the Renaissance people and time period, we will debate. Students will participate in a tribal council where they will face off much like the March Madness debates. In this activity, students are competing as individuals, and members of a tribe. If their person moves on both the individual and the tribe earn points.
I can't wait to see the full results of how this gamified activity adds to student engagement and helps bring the Renaissance era to life.