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Slam Dunk Classroom Lessons

March Madness Lesson Plan

With basketball season in full swing, some of our teachers used March Madness mania to spark learning and develop slam-dunk lesson plans in their classrooms during the past few weeks. Here’s a round-up of a few creative activities and projects that scored big with our students. #RSDproud

Dr. Seuss March Madness Book Bracket
Kathleen Boyle
Amanda Stout Elementary

We are always looking for ways to expand on our student’s specific interests by finding opportunities to tie that into academic content.  Kindergarten is a fan of basketball and Dr. Seuss books, so it made perfect sense to create a Dr. Seuss March Madness book bracket. 

I saw an opportunity to incorporate English language arts and math with a high interest topic like March Madness.  For language arts, I focused on: segmenting, blending cvc words, the skill and strategy related to the curriculum, the onset and rime with rhyming words and the many benefits of doing read alouds.  During math, we reviewed “greater than” and “less than,” numbers 0-20 and graphing.  Especially for the ESL students, our projects were a great opportunity to choral read, which helped the students build their fluency, self-confidence, and motivation in reading.  

We had twelve books vying to survive, and The Cat in the Hat became the champion.

March Mammal Madness
Jessica Brown and Elaine Cook
Reading High School
March Mammal Madness is a nationwide endeavor that encourages biology students to learn more about the diverse mammals (and a few other types of organisms) around the world while predicting the outcome of proposed “battles.”  Students filled in brackets that match up various organisms and researched specialized characteristics that may give each mammal an advantage over the other.  Each week students checked the updates that included a video or written transcript of which organisms are still in the running to update their brackets.        

Drew Eckel
16th and Haak Elementary
March Madness Book Bracket

I selected 32 popular children’s books and put them into a 32-team bracket. Each day we read one matchup. The students then voted on which story they liked more. The story with more votes moved on to the second round! So we started with 32 books and tomorrow we will be down to 2. It exposes the students to stories they may otherwise never know about. They love it! Now that we have matchups between books we have already read, they know most of the words. After every vote there is cheering. A lot of fun for both the kids and for me, too. And which book took the top prize? The Giving Tree!

March Madness Math Stadiums
Shannon Scott Wechsler

Glenside Elementary
Mrs. Wechsler and her student teacher, Miss Murphy, completed a room transformation at Glenside Elementary, where students learned about money through fun and creative March Madness-themed learning stations. Each table group was turned in to a stadium, and the students were drafted. Each stadium was set with engaging drills to prep for the big game.

Students practiced counting sets of coins in the “Slam Dunk” stadium. Each student counted up the value of coins on the basketball earned a chance to slam dunk the hoop.  Stadium two contained team building activates that allowed students to problem solve using skill cards, a work mat and a QR reader.  At stadium three students prepped for the pros by sorting “basketball” cards with real MBA players.  Students had to order the players by years in the league, their salary for their first year and then by their career salary.   This stadium contained the an amazing and rare Lonnie Walker card!  Stadium 4 allowed students to created different ways to make a $100!

What was the score?  Who won? The students!

Tina Sciumbata
Northeast Middle School
Poetry March Madness Bracket

I got the idea from a teacher group on Facebook. I thought that it would be a fun way to have the kids read different types of poems. I chose 16 poems, and I paired them together based on something they had in common – theme, rhyme scheme, the title, etc… We read 2 poems per day. We read the poems aloud and discussed them based on 1) format, 2) theme, 3) figurative language, and 4) meaning. This took about 30 minutes each day.  Then, the kids filled out a Google form to give each poem a rating – 1 star-5 stars. I averaged them out at the end of each day to see which of the two would move on to the next round.

It took eight days to get through Round 1.  When we did Round 2, I divided it into two days (4 poems each day), and Round 3 was just one day (4 poems).  And the final day was rating the last two poems. I set it up with a champion for each class, but one of the kids asked if we could have a Team Champion from the winners. So, I took an idea from the Shake Up Learning Show podcast by Kasey Bell and shared our Google Form on social media to garner votes from our community. The kids really enjoyed it!  

The winning poems were:
Sections 7-01 and 7-02 -- "First Love" by John Clare
Section 7-04 -- "Adventures of Isabel" by Ogden Nash
Section 7-03 -- "Pinball" by  Ralph Fletcher

Overall Team Winner and Social Media winner:
"Adventures of Isabel" by Ogden Nash

Ms. Sciumbata also asked students to tell her something they realized or learned about poetry that they didn't know before. Here’s what a few said

  1. “I didn't know that poetry is a very expressive way of writing, and it has its own way of explaining how he/she feels.
  2. “I know now that I really like poetry. Even though I thought I didn't.
  3. “Some poems aren't just words and just and random stuff jumbled together. Even though we might not see it at first, if we read between the lines poems have a much deeper meaning.”

Visit our RSD Facebook page to see more March Madness photos.