Monday, March 12, 2018

March Madness (Now With More Madness)

It's March! Which means it's that time when people who watch college basketball (even peripherally) build brackets only to have them immediately destroyed by some freshman phenom no one has ever heard of before, and the entire internet hates Duke like they're the Patriots or the Yankees.

Not to get all Pokemon Go! on you, but this is probably a great cultural touchstone to build educational efforts off of . What can we, as teachers, make into brackets to have kids debate or vote on? How can we get creative with our bad selves and not teach our students about gambling nope nope nope, but the power of ideas, especially when there's a sixteen-person office pool riding on those ideas? Let's look at some potential brackets. I'm not going to build the entire however-many field because this is your project, I'm just giving ideas. What do you think this is, Teachers Pay Teachers?

I want to point out that I bet your lists will be better than mine and, if I was smart, I'd have asked Pernille Ripp and Jess Lifshitz to weigh in on these.

Children's Book Bracket
Have your kids make a list of 32 children's books, then debate how the plots, messages, and characters come together to form the best cohesive whole. (You can do this with Characters as well, of course)

Duke Stand-In- Charlotte's Web. Perennial favorite, classic.

Sleeper Pick- Diary of a Wimpy Kid #1-64. You know they'll pick this.

Who Should Win- Every Dr Seuss book. Don't argue.

Poet Smackdown
Who's collected worked best stand the test of time?

Duke Stand-In- Depends on the age of the students, but probably Dickinson or Angelou.

Sleeper Pick- 2Pac. Unless you have young kids. Then Shel Silverstein. And yes, I'm tickled to put 2Pac and Shel in the same section.

Who Should Win- You think I'm gonna say Seuss again, don't you? Well I'm not! But I'm gonna go with Poe because the dude's name is practically Poet so I don't really know how he could not win.

Book Settings
So many places, so little time. Who is the best. Again, depends on the age of your kids. Where would they rather go? Why? What would they do there?

Duke Stand-In- Narnia. Classic. There's a Jesus lion and a fawn and disgusting desserts.

Sleeper Pick- Hogwarts is the modern Narnia, so I'm not sure it's a sleeper pick any more. I've got kids super into Minecraft books right now, so that would probably do better than I expected. And maybe Coraline's Other Mother's house, choosen by the kid who was only half-paying attention.

Who Should Win- Hogwarts. They have magic.

Best Dystopia
Dystopian fiction is all the rage with "the kids" these days. They love them some bleak near-future settings, as they should since hey, look at the country. They're basically planning ahead. Also, how great is the title "Best Dystopia"?

Duke Stand-In- Panem is where it's at if you've got the right age kids. It's basically the modern example of dystopian literature for the youths.

Sleeper Pick- Forks, Washington. Twilight was dystopian, right? It looked dystopian in the previews. All grey and ugly and boring.

Who Should Win- Oceania. I just finished 1984 again and damn, that book is bleak and a little scary. No one did it better.

Best Number
I should have one of these in here for Math. And it's fun to tweak math teachers, quite honestly. So a best number bracket it is. Just pick 32 numbers. Then have the kids debate them...or something.

Duke Stand-In- 1. I mean, it's number one. It's the best.

Sleeper Pick- 7. Biblical. Prime. Feels good to say. Seven is sneaky.

Who Should Win- 19, because if you add up the two digits they almost equal 10, and that's pretty coo and rare. You don't see a lot of two digit numbers doing that.

Create a big list of scientists, make the kids research 'em and choose who is the most important of them all. Make them fight it out, in a pit, with lions and stuff. Using science.

Duke Stand-In- Edison.

Sleeper Pick- William C Dement.

Who Should Win- Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Nye, the Science Guy. Again, like Poe, he's got Science right in his name. And two TV shows. Did Madam Curie have two TV shows? I'd have to google it but I do not think she did.

I've gotten you started down the path. You are welcome. I think by now it's pretty clear I wanted to plant the idea of an educational bracket or two in your brains and then let your Teacher Madness go to work on it, mulling and churning until you come up with the best idea for your class and subject. Now I've gotta pick one, seeing as I wrote this whole thing. Maybe I'll make, nay let, my student teacher come up with one. Yes. That's what I'll do. I'm the best mentor teacher ever.

If you like this post and the other posts on this blog you should know I’ve written three books about teaching- He’s the Weird TeacherTHE Teaching Text (You’re Welcome), and the just released A Classroom Of One. I’ve also written one novel- The Unforgiving Road. You should check them out, I’m even better in long form. I’m also on the tweets @TheWeirdTeacher

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