It’s mad time in March again

I’m baaaaack! I decided that since today was already March 18, we wouldn’t be doing our usual March Madness activity, (renamed “Tournament of Awesomeness”) that Nathan gave us.

But my kids wanted it. They remembered. They like it. Now I have to find my basketball hoop! And when I went to look up how we set it up, I found that I started about this time in March last year as well. Here’s the link to previous March Madness posts. It’s going to work out fine. I just have to narrow it down to 32 teams.

Nathan, if you’re there and have a good way to get the “hoop” part streamlined a bit, please tell!!

Other than that, we only got through a few “back from spring break” questions in each class: Where were you, how was it, and what were you doing. Because everyone wants to talk, I let them hear me ask each question six to ten times, commented and talked briefly with each kid, and then did three stand-up, 30-second breaks so that they could each try to ask the same question of five or six others. It wasn’t so much for input as it was for class unity and to give everyone a chance to tell about their break. Sometimes these “tell us about…” sessions go on for many days, and I still miss kids who want to tell what happened or to tell their lie.

I wanted to ask “What was the best thing that happened to you,” and “Where would you have gone/what would you have done” questions, but didn’t get to them. It’s hard to believe that really listening to answers can take so long! I used to always do the weekend report on Mondays, and today we returned to that format. We shouldn’t have left it!

I didn’t think I’d be saying this…but I’m glad I’m back!

PS I probably won’t be teaching in Seattle on May 16, but I’ll go there in October for a Saturday, it seems.

PPS When I searched Tournament of Awesomeness, I got a better bunch of posts.


4 responses to “It’s mad time in March again

  1. Spanish Teacher

    I love this idea, but I don’t quite get it! Would you mind clarifying how the first step is done? Do you get favorite things from every student (I have about 80 students in 5 classes) to establish the brackets? Which would give me 40 pairings to start with?

    Also, I’m confused about the discussing/CI you mention, yet the students have 2 minutes to declare their “reasons” their “team” should win. How do you discuss when they are limited in time?


  2. I decided I wanted only 32 awesome things (that way we have to have only 31 total contests), so divided them amongst three classes, with kids working in pairs or threes to come up with their “awesome” thing. Today pogo sticks and a “Legend” game were on the list.

    Because it’s not really CI except that they do understand one another (I mean…it’s output), I don’t allow much time for discussion. They move to the side of the room that they’re voting on, get into small groups, and try to come up with reasons in target language for and against the two current choices. Then I listen; each side has just two or three minutes to share their “for” choices, and then there is a chance for rebuttal (about a minute). I give a point for each of those chunks of information, and then they get to shoot baskets based on the number of points. Today ice cream and candy were up against each other in the first class to have a contest. We had to get the rules clear and remind them that the point is to have fun…but to keep it in Russian.

    Hope that makes sense.


    • That helped me a lot…thank you! We just finished our March Madness tournament! The winner? “Australian Accent” My colleague and I really enjoyed directing the contests, and it really helped hold students’ attention this last week before spring break.

      I used large poster/mural paper to post our brackets. We began with 32 ideas. To compete, groups took 3 minutes to think/take notes. The winner of a coin toss got to choose whether to present arguments first or second. Then one team presented 2 minutes (I tallied the ideas on the board). Then the other team presented 2 minutes. (each Spanish I team was permitted 3 words of English, though few teams used that; each Spanish II team was permitted 1; Spanish III, none.) After that, each team chose 3 shooters (1 pt, 2 pt, 3 pt lines) to earn bonus points by making baskets. The boys especially LOVED this part!

      We did 2-3 contests in each class on day 1 then one per day in each class until we were finished. For the final competition, each class did the same competition (it was “world travel” v “Australian accent”). We kept a running total of the points earned in each class to determine the champion.

      Overall, we were pleased with TL usage. Competitive students often dig deeply to be able to express their ideas!

      Thank you for sharing this creative idea!


      • I’m so glad it worked, and I’m especially grateful to you for the specific explanation of how you did it. I’ve been tallying points over a specific time period and letting the teams shoot the number of baskets that they “earned.” I think I like your plan better! Next year…or maybe next week! (We’re not quite done.) I was going to hand off the “Final Four” to the advanced kids to make power points and let the rest of the classes vote based on those.


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