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March 11, 2021

March Madness: Famous Patriots - The Great Debate

When I bumped to 5th, my new team taught me about March Madness in the classroom.  It's pretty cool.  The kids that love basketball are automatically engaged because of the title, and the others join in the excitement because of the competition of it all.  

We are in the midst of our Opinion unit.  These kids have to have an opinion about everything these days, and they have to be able to back up why they feel each way using specific information.  In Social Studies we are in the middle of our American Revolution unit, it's always fun to combine units and rank the Famous Patriots that we come in contact with... 

Here's how I set it up...

I have a stack of short biographies... like super short biographies about patriots.  They were left in the file cabinet when I moved in. They look like they have been copied from a workbook and put in sheet protectors.  That's beside the point, the main thing is that there is at least 16 of them.  You only need 16.  

In a normal year I have 32 students.  Partner groups make it 16... it's pretty perfect.  

Each group of kids are given a patriot to learn more about.  They research them using the short biographies and then they need to do some extra research because my papers only give them a taste of information, not enough to come up with a Top Ten Facts poster.  

Basically they are looking for interesting information about why the person is famous, what was their early life and career, and any other information that would possibly make their person stand out from the pack. They work on it with a partner, but they have to use the information they find and write their own persuasive speech as to what to say during the Great Debate.  Between the two they then decide which speech to use.  

I give them a week to research and create a poster.  This year with doing this virtually, they are turning their facts into me so I can share my screen during The Great Debates.  

During the Great Debate we start the bracket.  2 Patriot groups face off from each other and state their convincing speeches by identifying key information.  This year I will share my screen with their top facts.  Then after both patriots are duly recognized, the audience (aka the rest of the class) will vote for the patriot that should move forward in the competition. I randomly place on our bracket board, as I don't want them to know exactly who will have to face off with their opponent until it's actually time.  

We will go through the first round with the 16 patriots, then will start the second round with the elite 8, then will move to the final 4, and then the finals with the top 2.  Then we crown the winner of the Great Debate.  It goes pretty fast.  

Usually in the classroom the kids listen to the speeches, and then move to either side of the room - example George Washington on this side and Thomas Jefferson on this side... then no one can possibly change their hand based on what their friends are doing. This year we will still be virtual during March Madness, so I'll use a poll app so it will be a little more secretive. 

Do you do anything like March Madness in your classroom? Hope you had a great day!

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