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Get Into March Madness!

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march madmess

For many years now, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has been known as March Madness. Sixty-four teams from all over the United States compete for the ultimate prize: to be named National Champions. It’s not easy! The team that wins it all has to prevail in 6 consecutive, pressure-packed games that get tougher and tougher as the competition goes on. If you lose, you go home. The tournament is unlike any other in all of professional or collegiate athletics, so it captures the attention of the nation as it unfolds. Each year, there are many games that are won in dramatic fashion with last-second shots, and there is usually one team that emerges as a “Cinderella” by advancing much further into the tournament than was ever expected. In this article, I’d like to propose some activities you can implement with your students during March Madness.

March Madness Activities:

Geography: Give students a blank map of the United States, and a copy of the bracket, and have them color in the states that have a team, or teams, playing in the tournament. Additionally, have them type out a list of those states and put them in order depending on how many teams each state has in the tournament. For example, if North Carolina has the most with four teams, they would be at the top of the list with a number 4 after the state name. This activity would be good for students to do in pairs, and they will need access to the Internet. Some of the universities, like Purdue and Murray State, don’t have a state name attached to them. Students will have to research to determine where those universities are located.

Language Arts: Have students complete this worksheet as an in-class assignment or for homework. It has questions about the origins of the game of basketball and about the NCAA Basketball tournament through the years. Internet research will be required to complete the worksheet.

Probability: For students who have learned something about probability, give them a copy of this year’s bracket, and have them fill out the entire page. They must determine the probability of any given teams playing each other in the final round, and also the probability of any one team winning. Additionally, students can have a “friendly competition” with each other by predicting the winner of all of the games in the bracket, all the way to the championships game, then seeing who got the most correct predictions at the end of the tournament.

Play Basketball: There’s nothing better than actually playing the fabulous game of basketball. It’s terrific aerobic exercise, it’s fun, it builds teamwork, and is a game that can be played almost anywhere in the world. Make up your own in-class version of the NCAA tournament. Depending on how many students you have in your class, make up teams of 3, 4, or 5 players and have a tournament! To make sure that each team plays at least twice, make your tournament into a “double-elimination” format. That means that even if a team loses their first game, they get to play again. Once a team has lost twice, they’re out. Have your teams come up with nicknames, and stress the importance of teamwork and fair-play as the tournament begins.

Here are some other physical activity lessons I hope you’ll enjoy.

Physical Activity Lesson Plans:

Dr. Suess Comes to the Gym

This wonderful lesson is designed for very young students. Many of Dr. Suess’s classic books are used to create P.E. activities to be played in the gym or out the playground. Scooters, bean bags, mini-trampolines, frisbees, balance beams and music are some of the things used. For example, Station #8 is the “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” station. Students ride on their scooters face down and pretend to swim by using their arms and legs. Some great activities are presented here.

Bones, Bodies, and Bellies

Here is an excellent lesson for mid-upper elementary students. Student groups utilize worksheets embedded in the plan in order to take an honest look at their own physical fitness and think of ways that they could increase their fitness level. For closure, students record their resting heart rate, then measure their heart rate after running 1/4 mile.

Olympic Challenge

Here is a terrific lesson for your middle schoolers! Students pick a country they would like to represent in an in-class Olympic Games simulation. Students rotate through a series of well-designed physical activities such as: Basketball shot, Football Toss, Floor Hockey Shot, and Bobsledding (on scooters!). These activities could be done in the gym, or out on the playground.

Basketball: How to Shoot

High school students should enjoy this lesson on the techniques involved in how to correctly shoot a basketball. Students focus on their balance, their eyes, their elbow, and their follow through when shooting the ball. Many activities which involve shooting the basketball are clearly explained in this fine lesson.


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