Monday, June 2, 2014

NCAA March Madness-Style AP Review Game (2014 Edition)

As a former college basketball player as well as High School coach, it is no surprise that my favorite sporting event of the year is the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - MARCH MADNESS.

Last year, I decided to turn my AP European History review into a March Madness style simulation.  The class worked together to narrow down the top 64 most influential figures/groups in modern European History.  Students ranked them from 1-16 based upon four different historical eras, then collaboratively created a 70 slide Google Presentation and presented to the class.  After this, they all filled out brackets to determine who they thought was the most influential.  Next, we had a game-by-game class vote to determine the "class bracket."  The student whose bracket was the closest match to the "class bracket" was the ultimate winner.  Here are the instructions that I provided the students for this assignment.  I also filmed each step of the process and created the following video depicting the game.


In March, Seth Watts (AP teacher from Southern California) stumbled upon the video above and asked a few questions regarding how to implement a similar game in his course.  I suggested that if both of our classes were going to do this, why not collaborate!   He was all in and away we went...

Creating the Field of 64

The first step was to select field of 64.  We created the following Google Presentation that would be collaboratively develop by students in both of our classes.  My students created the field for two eras, while Seth's students worked on the two others.  After a few days, we had a completed field of 64 influential figures.

Completing the Student Brackets

Students in both classes were then provided with a blank bracket with all 64 figures.  Each student filled out the bracket based upon their views of "historical significance."  This was a helpful review for many since they simply did not recognize some of the people.  It was also interesting that many students in Mr. Watts' course chose people that we did not discuss much (if at all) in the course.  This was great since it provided a different perspective on European History that they were not exposed to here at PHS.

Round-by-Round Voting
To manage the voting, Seth suggested that we use Poll Everywhere for each match-up and have each class vote for one round per day.  This worked out great as we were able to see exactly how all of the students in each class viewed the historical significance of each "player."  Similar to the experience students had when collaborating on the presentation, many were surprised with how the students in California voted.  This then led to great discussions about differing views on history from various angles (political, economic, social, religious, etc.)


I consider this year's game a greater success than last year's, primarily due to the collaboration with Seth's students in California.  The feedback from students was mostly positive, with the only real negative being that there should have been more time for this review game.  I agree, at times it seemed rushed and needed more than the 5-6 class days devoted to it.  As with everything else in teaching, I'll have to reflect and iterate on this concept for next year.  If you have any questions about the review game or would like to collaborate on one in the future, please reach out and let me know!