Celebrate March Madness — with Poetry!

blankbracketresizedEvery March, NCTE hosts a March Madness Poetry Tournament. The idea is to create a basketball tournament-pairing chart like the NCAA does each year in March using poetry and to determine a final winner by reading the poems.

There are numerous ways to choose a “winner”:

  • The students select the poems – The teacher lets the students select their favorite poems and then creates the tournament brackets. Two students read their poems in front of the class. The class votes and the winning poems advance to the next round. The process continues until the final four and eventual winner are selected.
  • The teacher selects the poems – The teacher selects 64 (or 32) poems and reads them in pairs, one pair each day. The students select the one they like best. This poem is then declared a winner and advances along the tournament bracket. Another day and another match-up occurs and so on until all poems are read once. The second round of play starts then. Again, select two of the first-round winners in the proper order and brackets and read these again. Again, the class votes and so on until the final four and eventual winner are selected.
  • A combination of student and teacher selected – The teacher and students select the poems. Then, a combination of the teacher and students read the poems.

Some specific ideas were shared in this article from the Language Arts Journal of Michigan.

Read about past tournaments and get a blank bracket-pairing chart to start your own tournament today!

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About Lisa Fink

Lisa Storm Fink is the Project Manager for ReadWriteThink at NCTE. After teaching grades K-4 for almost 9 years, she brought her varied experiences (multi-age classrooms, looping, cooperating teacher for preservice teachers, plus a specialization in Remedial Reading) fulltime to the ReadWriteThink site. Lisa feels lucky to have worked on all parts of the ReadWriteThink site as a writer and reviewer, curriculum developer, and now as Project Manager. She enjoys sharing the site with others during professional development opportunities as well as with her preservice students at the University of Illinois.

2 thoughts on “Celebrate March Madness — with Poetry!

  1. This is a great way for students to study different poetry types and hear various types of poems. What a great opportunity for students to express themselves and be heard in a safe environment!

  2. I think the March Madness poetry edition is a fantastic idea. I definitely plan on using this in my classroom in the future. It is a fun and engaging way of having the students involved with literature but it is also a popular topic for most students as well.

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