|Source: ESPN (click for detail)|
Given the focus on March Madness and bracketology, it makes sense to incorporate these tantalizing distractions into the flow of the classroom. Half of our students seem absorbed with their picks, and the other half seem oblivious of televised sports. But whenever a mass media event takes over the airwaves for a period of time (like the Super Bowl, Inauguration, State Of The Union, or Mayan Apocalypse), it presents a prime opportunity to forge real-world connections with critical skill development.
Infographics offer especially appealing tools to grab kids' attentions and visualize the details. Here are a few possible ways to make March Madness the centerpiece of expanded learning:
|Source: Visual.ly (click for detail)|
The mathematics of probability feature prominently in choosing between the seeded teams. A student can calculate the chances of advancing from the first to the final round to become a bona fide NCAA-strodamus. Learners can then add layers of complexity based on a team's regular season record. They can also recreate the RPI index rankings for themselves. Or they can figure out why it's statistically more probable to win the Powerball lottery or become a saint than to pencil in a perfect bracket.
|Source: Visual.ly |
(click for detail)
|Source: Midwest Sports Fans |
(click for detail)
Partnered with the advertising revenue of the tournament is the media "selling" of each team. The highlight packages in slow motion revel in hero athletes who might become star NBA players. The school logos get paramount placement on scoreboards and parquet floors. In this vein, classes could design their own mock brackets for real consumer brands.
|Source: Ultimate Coupons|
Which teams are getting the most social media buzz? Which media applications are the most popular for tracking the winners? Which prime time moments are receiving the most Twitter mentions? All of these questions offer interesting angles to explore pop culture and technology saturation. Check out the "Facebook Buzz March Madness" or "The Social Side Of March Madness" on Mashable.
Each tournament interface and online tool seems to feature its own style of bracket. Computer programmers can learn the coding of menus and progressions. Artists can learn the technology skills of appealing graphic design. Students of any age can compare bracket versions to understand visual thinking and graphic organization.
|Source: I Love Charts|
|Source: Media Behavior Institute|
Language instructors can have a little linguistic fun with the annual battle of school initials. As one prognosticator we know always asks, "Will NC A&T beat VCU ? Will UNLV trounce UCLA?" Teachers can also adopt the bracket formula to make a tournament on an unrelated class objective, such as this poetry face-off or this U.S. Senator contest.
Juniors thinking about which college to attend should use the publicity of the tournament to assess schools. They can track the admissions stats vis a vis the tournament wins to find the best student athletes. Or they can view student-to-teacher ratios in their own scholarly bracket. Take a look at "Brackets For The Unconventional" or "Brains Vs Wins" to see more details.
For other possible applications of March Madness in the classroom, check out these Education World lesson ideas.