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7 Ways to Incorporate March Madness Into Your Classroom

2.18 BlogOriginally Posted by Learners Edge on March 18, 2016, and Revised on February 18, 2022.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! March Madness is almost underway but rather than fight your students’ interest in the NCAA basketball tournament, make the most of it! We’ve collected our favorite top seven ways to integrate basketball and the tournament into your lesson plans. Click on the title heading for additional details on engaging students with exciting basketball-themed activities.

  1. Figure the Winner

Students use math to predict the winners of the NCAA basketball tournaments (gr. 9-12). Students will practice calculating percentage, average, mean, median and more. All you need for this lesson is the tournament pairings chart for men and/or women. If you have younger students, try Math Madness for bracket fun using addition and subtraction with regrouping.

  1. The Team at Home

Students locate an NCAA basketball tournament team on a map, research the relationships of the team’s name and mascot to the location of the college and cheer their team to victory (Gr 6-8, 9-12). This lesson will teach students about the geography of a variety of areas as they research how team names and mascots are related to history and/or geography.

  1. Book Madness: A Tournament of Books

Instead of picking favorite teams to advance, why not set up a book bracket and have your students pick their favorite books? Ask your school librarian to run a list of the top 16 most commonly checked-out titles. Place the books into a bracket starting at the sweet 16 and ask kids to vote. As part of the voting, students are only allowed to participate in the vote if they’ve read the two books facing off. To make sure everyone has access to the books, put copies of the books on your shelves. Or, for younger students, share each book as a read-aloud! In addition to voting for the best books, students will also fill out their own bracket predicting the winners. For more information on setting up your own tournament of books, click here. Older students can also defend their favorite titles in this AP Lit March Madness.

  1. Research & Debate-Based Tournament

In this lesson, students will use the March Madness bracket structure to decide a question in their field of study and hold a research-and debate-based “tournament” to determine the “winners” of each round, until a final “winner’ is declared. Have students work together to create a question that is relevant to what they are studying in your class, then go head-to-head to debate the question.

  1. Nothing but Net: The Science of Shooting Hoops

The goal of this activity is to determine if the ball’s starting position for shooting a basketball affects a player’s shooting percentage. In this project, students measure shooting percentage when players shoot baskets from chest height, chin height and over the head.

  1. March Madness STEM Resources

The American Society for Engineering Education has curated a fantastic collection of basketball-science themed activities to engage students of all ages. From robot basketball to the physics of the “swish” to engineering a sneaker, this resource is packed with interesting lessons to capture students’ STEM imagination.

7. Internet Scavenger Hunt

Find out the history of basketball with this fun Scavenger Hunt, including a pdf printable version and answer key worksheet. Students work individually or in teams to search online for the answers to the questions.

Topics: Instructional Strategies, Student Engagement, Digital Resources

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