Incorporate March Madness in the Classroom

Teachers, parents and slightly annoyed friends all know when it’s March: the person in front of them is either checking the status of the latest buzzer-beater or interrupting the conversation to talk about it.

The NCAA tournament is well underway, with first-round upsets and enough statistical anomalies to make your head spin. America loves to obsess over its brackets, in part because a seasoned basketball fan who obsesses over stats during the other eleven months of the year has just as high a chance of winning your office bracket challenge as a kid who technically isn’t advised to watch a PG-13 movie without adult consent.

But we also love brackets because the excitement offers a distraction from our mundane daily schedules. Instead of having to keep your students’ attention away from the ball game, try creative ways to turn March Madness into a productive learning opportunity.

Image courtesy of The Brown Bag Teacher.

Book Madness

It may be a little too late to begin a basketball bracket if you haven’t already. However, with some crafting, strategy and a trip to the school library, you can create a bracket of literature to promote reading.

Students read through the book list and vote on which titles advance through the tournament. It’s less arbitrary than sports and more educational! For instructions, check out the link: Via.

The Math Behind the Madness

Sports are a great way to discuss statistics in a relatable language that doesn’t put students to sleep. They can more easily internalize concepts like mean, median and mode in the context of team scores and wins/losses. This can segway into more complex calculations of probability and trends.

Pinpoint Student Interest

When it comes to the NCAA tournament, we cheer for some schools we’ve never heard of in states we’ve never visited. Follow the lead of this third-grade class in Ohio and turn students’ curiosity into a geography lesson.

You can have students track the travel patterns of their favorite teams, or turn it into trivia or scavenger hunt!

Thinking About College

No matter what level of school you’re in (alright, Kindergarten is pushing it), it’s never too early to start thinking about higher education. What better time to discuss choosing a college than when schools are fighting a battle of blood, sweat and tears?

Infographics like these are interactive brackets that pit schools against each other in areas other than athletic programs. They provide metrics that are crucial to choosing an institution, such as student-faculty ratio — making for an interesting take-home activity!


These are only a few tools to shake up your classroom during a time of slightly irrational cheering and team-obsessing. Don’t be afraid to get creative to engage your students!


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