NCAA Basketball PBL: Best Classroom Lessons Never Taught…. It’s Madness! by Michael Gorman

Welcome to a post with a mix of educational ideas pressing full court toward the NCAA Basketball Tournament. I bring to you a post not containing 50, 25, or even 10 amazing links. Instead, during the height of the NCAA Tournament I would like to share with you one very important educational reflection. After a short read I am sure you will understand my thoughts on student voice, choice and relevance. It really is quite amazing the impact that the NCAA tournament has on students. Please let me share a story and dream about educational transformation. Take a moment to subscribe to my blog at 21centuryedtech by RSS or email and join me on twitter at mjgormans . You see… we really must learn to put into practice some of the best lessons never taught! Have an exciting tournament and a wonderful week! – Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)

It was twenty minutes before the first school bell would ring, signifying the beginning of another day of learning. Students were beginning to enter and fill the classroom. There was air of extreme excitement as the teacher looked from nook to corner. It was a typical room filled with students, desks, chairs, and a few computers. This morning seemed to be different from the others. The teacher stood perplexed, in awe of an amazing event that was beginning to unfold. Students were using computers and printers to produce what appeared to be a complicated worksheet. Some kids were on the floor while others were seated at tables eagerly filling the paper out! Their eyes were filled with inquiry and enthusiasm as they completed the graphical sheet from top to bottom! It was definitely a worksheet experience like no other the teacher had ever witnessed! Upon closer inspection the teacher realized the students had searched for and found the new NCAA Basketball Brackets.

The teacher watched students engaged in a true spirit of collaboration and communication, as they learned from each other some interesting facts about each of the college teams. Geography was a main topic, as students discovered via Google Maps, the location of various universities. The teacher could hear students compare and contrast strengths and weakness of the various competitors, while others children used mathematics to perform some comparative scoring. There was a massive research symposium, as students looked on the internet to find out what the experts of the newly founded science of “Bracketology” thought! Some students came to the teacher ready to present their reasoning for their selections showcasing some powerful persuasion skills. Any observer would have been amazed by the thought, creativity, and reflections that the students were able to share. It appeared that that the students were in control of this special learning experience. They had created their own lesson with an engagement based on their interest in the real world. It was much like watching a game of neighborhood baseball long before the advent of sanctioned leagues and teams.

The twenty minutes were soon past as the bell rang, and announced yet another day of learning. The Brackets Papers were put away, while the room came to a silent halt. Students left their collaborative groups and sat in their individual seats. They pulled out a worksheet, some only half filled out, assigned from the day before. The teacher initiated a lecture entitled ” Making Predictions Using Compare and Contrast”. The students appeared to listen as they took notes. After all this was an important standard to be repeated for a test. What a change the bell had made. The March of Madness was over. It was now a time to learn!

Thanks for joining me in my tribute to education and the need to include student voice, choice and relevance to learning. In the coming weeks you will discover posts devoted to 21st century education including such topics as Flipped Classrooms, Project Based Learning, Assessing 21st century skills, technology integration, web resources, and digital literacy. I enjoy learning from all of you. Also, remember to subscribe to my 21centuryedtech Blog by RSS or email and follow me on twitter at mjgormans. I also appreciate your sharing of this post and any retweets. I have a series coming up at Tech and Learning that will bring you some amazing resources regarding PBL... so be sure to come back! I hope you enjoyed your journey of best lessons never taught. Have a great week! – Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)