Lesson of the Day: March Madness Meets Common Core Writing and Reading for Information Standards

It was my second year teaching. It was the third Thursday in March. I was watching basketball. My administrator, Ms. Killjoy, thought that the third Thursday in March was a good day to observe my class. She pulled a pink slip out of her purse and handed it to me. At the same time, I pulled this March Madness lesson plan out of my rear and handed it to her.

Disaster averted.

Common Core Standards

You better write these on the board!!!!!!!

  • RI 9-12.1Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • RI 9-12.4 – Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings.
  • RI 9-12.9 Analyze seminal U.S. documents of historical and literary significance.
  • W.9-12.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

Before we move on, check out these highlights from the greatest night of my life.

Preparation is the key to enjoying March Madness without getting fired.

Obviously, the best choice is to stay home Thursday and Friday, but if you have five kids (like me) and a wife who doesn’t understand the historical significance of March Madness  (see RI 9-12.9 above), staying home guarantees nothing.

  1. Print a statistical chart of the local team, or your favorite team. Normally I use my alma mater (UNLV), but they were an embarrassment this year and fired their coach (yet again), so I think I’ll go with my home state Buckeyes of The Ohio State University. You can choose whatever team you want. Since I live in the Carolinas now, I might even go with the Devil’s team, Duke. (They’re literally the Blue Devils, so they really are the Devil’s team)
  2. Do a little cutting and pasting to make sure you get the right information. Make sure the legend is included. That’s the “technical meanings” part of RI 9-12.4. Make enough copies for the class.
  3. On the back of the chart, ask some questions that require the ability to read a chart.
  4. Here’s where the magic happens. Have students write an essay. That’s right an essay about basketball that fulfills Writing Common Core Standards! Here’s the prompt: Based on the information in the chart, write a four-paragraph essay discussing the team’s two most valuable players during the 2018-19 season.
  5. Turn on the game. The first game tips off around noon.
  6. Invite your administrator to come in and watch the games.

Here’s some reading for information questions to get things started.

I based these questions on the 2018-2019 Duke basketball team. Feel free to substitute your much more likable team’s statistics for this assignment.

  1. Who led Duke in points during the 2018-19 season? Rebounds? Assists? Blocks? Steals?
  2. How many points did Jack White average? RJ Barrett? Cam Reddish?
  3. Who made the most 3-pointers during the season?
  4. Who had the most free throw attempts?
  5. What was Zion Williamson’s 3-pt shooting percentage?
  6. What was Tre Jones’ free throw percentage?
  7. If there were 1-second left in the game and Duke was trailing by one point, which player with over 25 games played would you want shooting free throws, assuming you want Duke to lose?
  8. How many turnovers does the team average per game?
  9. What percentage does the team make on 3-pt. attempts?
  10. If there were two seconds left and Duke was trailing by two, which player who played at least 25 games would you want taking a game-winning shot, assuming you want Duke to win (which nobody does)?

Essay Question: Using statistics from the chart, write a 4-paragraph essay discussing the team’s two most valuable players (hint: Zion Williamson is one of them). Use statistics from the chart as evidence. Make sure you have an introduction that captures the reader’s attention, contains a thesis statement, and outlines your major points. Make sure you have two body paragraphs. In your conclusion, announce your choice for player of the year.

I actually made an essay rubric, but something happened on the World Wide Web and it’s disappeared. Maybe I’ll throw a rubric together before Thursday. Check back.

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  1. Lesson of the Day: March Madness Meets Common Core Writing and Reading for Information Standards | ELA Common Core Lesson Plans
    I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep it up!

    I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back in the future.
    Many thanks

  2. Karen Hall says

    This is the greatest thing since…. well… since brackets! I am IN! My only problem is that I need lesson plans so we can watch the game every day until April 8th!

  3. Janine Van Stelle Haded says

    Great idea! Hope you get the rubric up as well.