Japan links/Tournament of Awesomeness

Like MJ noted, I’m going to start off class tomorrow with some targeted discussion on what is going on in Japan.  Some resources I’ll show on the overhead include the following links:

I’ll start out with selected scenes from the Big Picture



Then I’ll move to the New York times first with an interactive before/after picture sequence:


And then follow with a quick animated sequence to explain the problem with the nuclear plants:


By that time everybody will be pretty bummed about everything, so I’ll shift gears dramatically and roll with an idea I stole off of Ben’s Blog last year, and which I expect to provide a much needed lightening of the tone.

Jeff Klamka sent this “Tournament of Awesomeness” idea into Ben last year to correspond with the NCAA Basketball tournament, and I really had a blast with it.  Basically your upper level students nominate the 32 or 64 most awesome things in the world, and you create a bracket which pairs them off against each other (the beach vs. mini corn dogs; snow day vs. Justin Bieber).  Your students debate the merits of each, you tally the votes, and then move onto the next round.  Full details are found here:


Last year we really had a lot of fun doing this, and we got some great debates going and had a lot of fun.  As it stands I am emphasizing the structures used to provide reasons (because/so that/in order to) with my upper level classes right now anyway, so this will dovetail with that perfectly.

Last year I only did 32 items, but this year I’ll do 64 spread out over two classes, so their respective brackets will go up against each other. When it gets down to the final eight, my upper level students will make PowerPoints to show to all of my classes, who will then all get to vote on the ultimate winner.

Also last year, I didn’t learn about this until the NCAA tournament was almost finished so I just did them a few days back to back.  This year I’ll do the voting to correspond with the actual tournament rounds (the rounds of 64 and 32 this week; the rounds or 16 and 8 next week; the final rounds the following week).  Actually we’ll have spring break during the finals week, so we’ll start making our PowerPoints by the end of next week.

Is this too much for one day?   Yeah, but I’ll deal with that when I get to it.  We’ll learn a bit, we’ll mourn a bit, we’ll have some fun.  I love how TPRS is flexible enough to provide a forum to process what is going on in the world–both the tragic as well as the fun– in a way that makes sense for our students.

3 responses to “Japan links/Tournament of Awesomeness

  1. Thank you so much for fleshing this out! I remembered to look for bigpicture.ru–and to find the story about the man on the roof. Amazing before/after shots. I guess that the critical word there would be “disappeared.”

    It helps to have a reminder that we need to do something “fun” after depressing stories.


  2. Since only some can get into the website, I’m going to paste what I had when the website was still open. Here’s Jeff’s complete post:

    Le Grand Tournoi d’Excellence!—an activity for NCAA tournament time

    1. Give each student in the class two small slips of paper, on which he/she writes the two most awesome things in the world. It can include (but isn’t limited to…) food, t.v. shows, movies, video games, fictional characters, restaurants, sports, sports teams, athletes, musical groups, or anything else that’s awesome. Some examples from last year: Kenny from South Park, Pancakes, Chuck Norris, Monty Python, Ramen, the Death of Twilight.

    2. Collect all of the slips, and choose 32 different ones, and then fill out a tournament-style bracket where the awesome things will compete to determine which the most awesome thing in the world is!

    3. At the beginning of each class, do 2-4 first round match-ups. For each match-up, announce the competitors (example: Chuck Norris vs. Pancakes). Students in the class will take turns raising their hands and explaining why one is superior to the other (Pancakes are delicious, but Chuck Norris isn’t delicious…). After students have had their say, we vote, and the one that gets the most votes moves on to the second round. (I am the tie-breaker).

    4. Each day, each class will continue to debate several matchups until we are down to 8 finalists in each class. Then, I divide the classes into 8 groups. Each group is responsible for putting together a PowerPoint presentation in the target language, illustrating why their thing is the most awesome.

    5. I show the PowerPoints (which I have edited for accuracy) to other classes, which will vote until we have 8 finalists. (That way, students aren’t voting for who put together the presentation, but rather they vote for which is the most convincing).

    6. All classes see the 8 finalists, and then vote until we have one winner.

    Elite 8 rubric Period ______ Students: __________________________________

    Number of slides: ______________ X 5 _______________ (40)
    Number of understandable French sentences __________ X 4 ___________ (32)
    Accuracy of French ______________ (out of 10)
    Works cited page ________________ (out of 8)
    Quality and creativity of slides _________________ (out of 10)
    I liked: French errors:

    Elite 8 rubric Period ______ Students: __________________________________

    Number of slides: ______________ X 5 _______________ (40)
    Number of understandable French sentences __________ X 4 ___________ (32)
    Accuracy of French ______________ (out of 10)
    Works cited page ________________ (out of 8)
    Quality and creativity of slides _________________ (out of 10)
    I liked: French errors:

    Elite 8 presentations

    Put together a PowerPoint presentation demonstrating why your item is so awesome.


    –It must be at least 10 French sentences long, and at least 10 slides long.
    –It should make a convincing argument why yours is the best, and also why the others are not as good.
    –Accuracy in French (including accent marks) is part of the grade.


    10 slides with 10 French sentences: 60%
    Quality and accuracy of French: 20%
    Quality of the presentation: 20%

    When you are finished, go to my website (linked to the school website). From there, you can visit sites for French children.


  3. Pingback: Valentine’s Day Story Script – The Comprehensible Classroom

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.