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Lesson Of The Week: What Does “March Madness” Have To Do With Theory Of Knowledge?

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(Have you developed a particularly creative and successful lesson for your K-12 English, Social Studies, or IB Theory of Knowledge class?  If you have, and can describe it in 400 words or less (not including student hand-outs you might want to include), send it in to me and I’ll consider publishing it in this new “Lesson Of The Week” series.  I’m also open to considering math and science lessons, but only if they are simple enough for me to understand :) .  If this series takes off, an Ebook compilation is a possiblity.  You can use my contact form or email to send in your contribution).

Theresa Collins and Carl Weaver are IB Theory of Knowledge teachers in Indiana, and came up with a great lesson related to the March Madness of college basketball. Since the tournament isn’t over yet, other TOK teachers could still adapt their lesson, which they have agreed to share here:

I follow you on Twitter, and on a whim, I emailed you on Wednesday night to see if you might have (and be willing to share) a TOK lesson plan regarding March Madness. I thought it would be fun to do something with it, but I was running short on time and creativity. To my delight, you replied that same night and gave me that very kernel I was looking for…you mentioned taking a look at Nate Silver’s work on his Five Thirty Eight blog at The New York Times. I’m happy to share with you how the lesson shaped up:

• As our hook, we began the class by walking over to the gym where all students attempted to shoot a free throw while blindfolded. One student was successful. Another student shot in a totally different direction from the basket because his classmates had shown their sense of community “in properly aligning him to the basket”. The kids had fun. We returned to our classroom and discussed how sense perception (or more aptly, the lack of sight) played a role in shooting the free throws.

• Before the class, several teachers were emailed and asked to explain how they choose the teams to fill in their brackets. We placed these emails around the room, and the kids did a gallery walk in partners. On their whiteboards, the students noted examples of reason and emotion they found in the teachers’ responses. We then came back together and had a discussion.

• Next we watched Barack-etology:

The kids individually recorded how he used reason and emotion while making his picks, and then we talked about what they noticed.

• Next we watched Nate Silver’s interview:

We also read his article titled “Parity in the NCAA Means No Commanding Favorite”. We had the kids annotate the article for reason and emotion, but this time we also had them note data and probability as a way of that knowing. We had another discussion.

• Exit tickets are never optional in TOK, but for this lesson they were. If the kids wanted to fill out a bracket and leave it with us, they could. And, of course, they could choose which ways of knowing to use when making their own picks, but we’ll have to wait until April to see which one gets the prize.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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