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The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast | ELA

Mar 14, 2024

Today, let’s talk about March Madness, and how to harness all that awesome enthusiasm to get your students excited about poetry.

Last year I worked with Melissa Alter Smith from #teachlivingpoets to create a March Madness bracket for The Lighthouse, and I learned a lot from her in the process! This is such a fun and easy way to bring more voices into your curriculum and help kids see a lot of different sides of poetry. 

You can set up your poetry bracket on your white board or on Google Slides. Then you fill it in with poetry that you love. You can mix together classic poetry, performance poetry from The Button Classroom-Friendly Youtube channel, readings by contemporary authors that you find online, or favorites from Def Poetry Jam. There are so many options! You can get fancy and have poems face off initially that cover similar themes or are from similar outlets, or you can just randomly scatter in poems and see what happens.

All you need is a few minutes a day to read or play the two poems of the day in the classes that participate in the tournament. You can just have students close their eyes and raise their hands to vote, or you can build some writing and argument into it by having them rate the poems and defend their scores. Either way, keep track of the votes in each class and at the end of the day, move your winners forward in your tournament bracket. 

By the end of your tournament, your students will be used to how this all works and it really should just take a few minutes a day that hopefully everyone will be looking forward to.

Need a few poets to get you started? Take a look at Harry Baker, Amanda Gorman, and Sarah Kay for a start. Or check out the poetry bracket Melissa has created on the Teach Living Poets site or, if you're in The Lighthouse, the one that she and I built in the Teach Living Poets section. 

A March Madness poetry bracket is such an easy way to integrate more poetry from many voices into your curriculum and, of course, get more student buy-in for it! That’s why this week I want to highly recommend you give it a try.  

Learn more about The Lighthouse:

Teach Living Poets March Madness Bracket: 

Go Further: 

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