It all started with an idea: March Madness. Well, actually it all started with a Tweet. A History teacher posted about a project in which students had debates and discussions about this country's greatest presidents. Driving this activity was the premise of 32 teams...or rather, presidents, going up against each other to truly determine who was the best. It sounded awesome, and I knew I could adapt it for my 6th grade Geography class. A light bulb went off.Instead of 32 college basketball teams competing against each other, eventually getting narrowed down to an Elite 8, Final 4, etc., I decided to assign students a region of Asia and to give them the task of designing "cities" in that region. These cities would then go head to head in one week of competition - entirely driven by students.It all starts with research. Students study the physical geography of their assigned region and decide where would be the best place for their cities to go. They then begin mapping their city, with the help of Google Drawings and Google Earth. Their research and collaboration continues as they design a presenting using Google Slides and a "Grand Finale." For the Grand Finale, students may pick any topic relating to the history, geography, or culture of their assigned part of the world and create virtually whatever they want with it: model Mongolian yurts, how to cook kimchi videos, stop-motion origami videos, escape rooms, Korean McDonald's Happy Meals, nearly life-sized samurai displays. It's anything goes.And then it's time to compete. Students evaluate each other's projects using Google Forms. They rate five different categories: Wow factor, design appeal, information, livability, and creativity. All student evaluations are averaged to produce a team's "final score." The higher scoring teams move on to the next round, while the other teams are eliminated. After a week of competition, the #1 team can be crowned.It's more than a project, it's an idea, a mindset. It's about collaboration and feedback. It's about creativity and analysis. And, perhaps most importantly, it really is a lot of fun...and, of course, a lot of MADNESS!

October 19, 2018